A Trojan horse?
The author is a deputy head of the economic planning team of the JoongAng Ilbo.
On July 25, 1933, New Deal arrived at the White House. Followers in Missouri sent the American saddlebred horse to show their support for the New Deal. The New York Times and other major media reported how President Franklin D. Roosevelt welcomed the horse with a smile. He needed the “show,” because there was opposition to his New Deal policy. Five months later, the New York Times’ Jan. 4, 1934 issue ran a top story about Theodore Roosevelt visiting Congress and telling the opponents that the New Deal would not disappear.
Why send a horse? A clue can be found in the criticism. Opponents criticized the New Deal as a Trojan horse, claiming it was a tactic to use populist policies to boost the economy and win support from the public while spreading socialism. An anti-New Deal outlet ran a cartoon of a shabby wooden horse with the caption, “New Deal Dictatorship.”
In fact, Roosevelt’s New Deal got a lot of criticism. For example, benefits were concentrated among white males. Most American scholars’ research shows that women did not benefit, owing to the premise that they were passive beings under the care of the men. African Americans also did not benefit because of the racist policies in place at the time. Conservative economic historian Burton Folsom wrote in his 2009 book “New Deal or Raw Deal?” that Roosevelt’s preferential policy deprived the American economy of the chance to improve its health, and the harms continue today.
There has been much talk about President Moon Jae-in’s Korean New Deal and Green New Deal. It is too rash to call it a Trojan horse and dismiss the bold fiscal plan. It could be an unripe criticism, neglecting people’s outcry at the juncture of life and death. Harvard University professor of economics Kenneth Rogoff said in an email exchange with me that in principle, the direction of the Green New Deal is correct. But what he added was the key. What’s happening in the future is more important. If you want a lasting policy, not for two years in the future, but 20 or 200 years later, you should study first instead of just talking about it.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 27, Page 30