Hitting bookstores this month, The NEW New Deal:
In a riveting account based on new documents and interviews with more than 400 sources on both sides of the aisle, award-winning reporter Michael Grunwald reveals the vivid story behind President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus bill, one of the most important and least understood pieces of legislation in the history of the country. Grunwald’s meticulous reporting shows how the stimulus, though reviled on the right and the left, helped prevent a depression while jump-starting the president’s agenda for lasting change. As ambitious and far-reaching as FDR’s New Deal, the Recovery Act is a down payment on the nation’s economic and environmental future, the purest distillation of change in the Obama era.
The stimulus has launched a transition to a clean-energy economy, doubled our renewable power, and financed unprecedented investments in energy efficiency, a smarter grid, electric cars, advanced biofuels, and green manufacturing. It is computerizing America’s pen-and-paper medical system. Its Race to the Top is the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It has put in place the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, the largest research investments ever, and the most extensive infrastructure investments since Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. It includes the largest expansion of antipoverty programs since the Great Society, lifting millions of Americans above the poverty line, reducing homelessness, and modernizing unemployment insurance. Like the first New Deal, Obama’s stimulus has created legacies that last: the world’s largest wind and solar projects, a new battery industry, a fledgling high-speed rail network, and the world’s highest-speed Internet network.
Michael Grunwald goes behind the scenes—sitting in on cabinet meetings, as well as recounting the secret strategy sessions where Republicans devised their resistance to Obama—to show how the stimulus was born, how it fueled a resurgence on the right, and how it is changing America. The New New Deal shatters the conventional Washington narrative and it will redefine the way Obama’s first term is perceived.
That’s all I’ve read so far — the flap copy. Being a glass half-full kind of guy, I’m going to try to find time to read the whole thing. With all the challenges we face — including the polarization that automatically keeps nearly half the country from even considering positive news — we’re entitled to enjoy the gains from time to time.
MORE GOOD NEWS
We added 172,000 private-sector jobs in July, the 29th consecutive month of gains, for a total of 4.5 million. It would have been more if the stimulus package Michael Grunwald writes about had been larger; more still if the Republicans hadn’t blocked the American Jobs Act the President proposed to a joint session of Congress 11 months ago.
Still, it’s amazing how much progress has been made, given the mess the Administration inherited and the unprecedented level of obstruction.
Click here to see it in graphic form.
The idea that the way to accelerate growth is to slam on the brakes (the Ryan/Romney budget) . . . is bizarre. The idea that at a time of high unemployment and zero real borrowing costs we should let our infrastructure crumble still further rather than put people to work moving forward . . . is bizarre. The idea that “job creators” are rich people who don’t create jobs because their tax rates — slashed to the lowest rates in modern times — were not slashed enough . . . is bizarre. Let me tell you about job creators: if they see a way to make more profit by hiring someone, they will do it, regardless of their tax rate. If they don’t, they won’t, even if their tax rate were zero. Why would they?