Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Written by Dean Baker

This is not a joke (at least not on my part). David Broder, the longtime columnist and reporter at a formerly respectable newspaper, quite explicitly suggested that fighting a war with Iran could be an effective way to boost the economy. Ignoring the idea that anyone should undertake war as an economic policy, Broder’s economics is also a visit to loon tune land.

Broder tells readers:

“Can Obama harness the forces that might spur new growth? This is the key question for the next two years.

What are those forces? Essentially, there are two. One is the power of the business cycle, the tidal force that throughout history has dictated when the economy expands and when it contracts.

Economists struggle to analyze this, but they almost inevitably conclude that it cannot be rushed and almost resists political command. As the saying goes, the market will go where it is going to go.

In this regard, Obama has no advantage over any other pol. Even in analyzing the tidal force correctly, he cannot control it.

What else might affect the economy? The answer is obvious, but its implications are frightening. War and peace influence the economy.”

Sorry Mr. Broder, outside of Fox on 15th the world does not work this way. War affects the economy the same way that other government spending affects the economy. It does not have some mystical impact as Broder seems to think.

If spending on war can provide jobs and lift the economy then so can spending on roads, weatherizing homes, or educating our kids. Yes, that’s right, all the forms of stimulus spending that Broder derided so much because they add to the deficit will increase GDP and generate jobs just like the war that Broder is advocating (which will also add to the deficit).

So, we have two routes to prosperity. We can either build up our physical infrastructure and improve the skills and education of our workers or we can go kill Iranians. Broder has made it clear where he stands.

About the author

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. His blog, Beat the Press, features commentary on economic reporting.


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RS Janes
13 years ago

I once had a job that brought me into close contact with senior citizens who were young men and women during the Great Depression. Almost unilaterally, they worshipped FDR and told me he had put people back to work and vastly improved the economy well before WWII. (It was the reason he was reelected in 1936 and 1940.) Dimbulb closet-Republican Broder hashes out this right-wing historical revisionism that it was only WWII that ended the Great Depression, and it simply isn’t true, as the seniors I talked to years ago well knew, and FDR’s reelection twice before we entered the war in late 1941 prove.

Baker’s right, of course, but I doubt Obama will lift a page from FDR to cure what is, for most of us proles out here in Generica, a deep depression.

Ken Carman
13 years ago

My father hated FDR. And he was a peacenik before he got drafted. He always believed the line that we “almost got out of the Depression then FDR screwed it up by closing the banks. Believing such tales on the Right has a long history, but I’m not sure it’s ever been this nuts.

RS Janes
13 years ago

My father didn’t much like FDR, either — he was a Republican Goldwater conservative — but he did credit him, grudgingly, for getting us out of the Great Depression. Of course, he also believed FDR intentionally got us into WWII to make us into an empire and increase his own presidential power. We had many arguments over that last point.

Joyce Lovelace
Joyce Lovelace
13 years ago

My Dad, who benefited from some of FDR’s programs, believed that FDR let Pearl Harbor happen. I thought he was crazy, but after what I’ve just read about Teddy Roosevelt and Asia, he might have had some reason to believe that way.
Dad also felt that war helped a nations economy by putting people to work. He didn’t approve of using war that way, j in the 1900’s, it’s easy to see how he could come to that conclusion.ust claimed it was what the politicians did. When you look at how many wars we’ve fought

RS Janes
13 years ago

I used to tell my Dad that, if FDR wanted to get us into WWII, he could have used the pretext of the sinking of the USS Reuben James on Oct. 31, 1941, by a German U-Boat. 115 American sailors died in that tragedy. I’d also point out that if FDR intended to ‘let’ Pearl Harbor happen, why did he allow Washington to issue ‘war warnings’ in Nov. of 1941? The problem was that American commanders in the Pacific and Washington believed the Japanese would attack the Philippines and not Hawaii, but that’s not FDR’s doing.

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