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Monday, October 24, 2016

Memo To Romney: America’s Greatest Presidents All Used Government To Increase Prosperity

As part of the How We Value Government series, a reminder that while America has benefited from the free market, we wouldn’t be anywhere without the government playing a major role in the economy — and our entire society.

In his Wisconsin primary victory speech, presidential aspirant Mitt Romney made some interesting observations about Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Abraham Lincoln. He seemed to indicate that he admires them, as they were what he termed “historically great” presidents. He then went on to chide the current president for having the audacity to think of himself in the same league as these three great former leaders. He described the coming presidential election at great length as a historic choice between what he termed a “government-centered society” and a “society led by free people and free enterprises.”

In making these observations, Mr. Romney made no attempt to rectify the fundamental contradiction in his remarks. He either failed to see, or decided to conveniently ignore, the fact that the three “historically great” presidents (one Republican and two Democratic) he made reference to at the opening of his remarks all shared one thing in common: a fundamental belief in the positive use of government to help expand the economy and provide a greater degree of economic opportunity and social justice for all Americans — not just those at the top of the income ladder.

It was President Lincoln, for example, who in 1862 signed such pieces of legislation as the Homestead Act, which issued 160 acres of Federal land west of the Mississippi River at little or no cost to any adult citizen who had not borne arms against the United States, provided they agreed to improve the land. He also signed the Morill Act, which donated 30,000 acres of federal land to a number of states and territories that could then be sold by the state to provide the revenue needed to fund public colleges and universities. The result was the establishment of over 60 “land-grant” colleges and universities across the country, including Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison (the very state in which Mr. Romney made his remarks about the evils of a “government-centered” society). The Homestead Act greatly accelerated the settlement of U.S. territory in the West and was a boon to the overall economy. The establishment of “land-grant” colleges and universities brought the dream of higher education to tens of thousands — indeed, millions — of low-income farmers and workers who had previously been denied that opportunity, which had untold benefits in science, technology, and the liberal arts.

FDR brought us the most comprehensive banking and financial reform in U.S. history. He established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and a number of other important laws that restored confidence in the country’s financial and banking sector not only among the American people, but also among the business community. In using government in this way, the Roosevelt administration laid the basis for the overall growth of the financial sector for decades to come. FDR also greatly expanded the country’s economic infrastructure through a massive effort to update the country’s antiquated roads, bridges, airports, and other facilities, all of which helped propel the expansion of the economy in the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, and beyond. He also signed the National Labor Relations Act into law, which encouraged higher wages through the unionization of the workforce and, near the end of his life, pushed through the GI Bill, which allowed thousands of returning World War II veterans the chance to secure further job training or access to higher education. Both of those efforts helped make the post-1945 U.S. economy the envy of the world.

The Johnson administration gave us the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act of 1964 and ‘65, which began the long, slow process of ending racial discrimination in America. It gave us Medicare and Medicaid to provide the elderly and low-income individuals with access to health care. Head Start and the Higher Education Act of 1965 helped low-income families secure a better education for their children. The Truth-in-Lending Act helped protect consumers from abusive lending practices. These and a host of other initiatives were designed to build a “Great Society” that would provide everyday Americans with a greater measure of social security and economic opportunity.

In short, all of these “historically great” presidents used government as a tool to improve the lives of working Americans through a host of important initiatives that not only helped render the United States a more just and equitable society, but also helped expand our economy by increasing the level of economic opportunity.

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Copyright 2012 The National Memo
  • NorthernDawn

    I have no illusions that the government will grow under a President Romney. He is using Republican “Stumping Language”; he is trying to appease what the Republican electorate is listening to. Once elected, we will see government grow and with the rhetoric I hear them spouting, we will see this government grow against certain groups of people. The gains will be made to the upper middle class and above. The larger corporations will see great gains. The losers will be the elderly, the poor, and now we have to include, women. We will see programs cut, programs that help feed, provide healthcare, and educate the poorer among us. We will see our wages continue to fail in keeping up with the ever-rising cost of living. More people will swing into the poor class. And enough will stay in the > $80,000 class to keep them voting Republican, the hope-to-be rich-if-I-just-support-the-Republicans.

  • joyscarbo

    A find article with an excellent and true message. Indeed, “a free market LEFT UNCHECKED can bring a country to financial ruin,” is what happens every time a Republican is in office. They say they’re helping the citizens but then get paid to pass laws that only make them richer and make politicians into puppets of the almighty dollar.
    President Obama has done a fine job in his first 4 years. He’s tirelessly tried again and again to work with Republicans and has been met with incredulous resistance. Their motive was just do drag down the man, throwing all care about the struggling American people to twist in the wind.
    Republicans NEVER care about the general public. They’re a bunch of spoiled, stubborn bullies who need to be shown the door…from the Senate to the Congress…from Washington DC to each and every state.

    • montanabill

      ‘fine job’, ‘tirelessly tried again and again to work with Republicans’? Hello? Hello, is anybody home? Oh, now I see you, sitting rigidly over in the left corner wearing a blindfold and ear protectors. Just for the record, no Republican has ever promoted a free market LEFT UNCHECKED. It is the degree of checking that is the issue. Republicans do care about the general public. They are just not so enamored with free loaders.

      • William Deutschlander

        For the record please define “FRELOADERS”?

        • montanabill

          Pretty simple: anyone who receives goods and services from the government and doesn’t contribute by paying either income taxes or having a contribution withheld from their income or not receiving it as part of compensation for government employment.

          • you mean like wall street bankers? They don’t pay income taxes or have a contribution withheld from their income.

          • montanabill

            You are obviously not a wall street banker. You should know better than to believe that crap.

          • joyscarbo

            Thank you, Dralor.

          • joyscarbo

            Hey Montana Bill…so by your “definition” are people like my adult son a “freeloader?” He’s both physically and mentally unable to work. His income is SSI, which is a little over $700 per month which doesn’t even begin to approach the poverty level. His insurance is Medicaid, which cut vision and dental benefits last year. What would someone like you want my son to do? Beg on the street? Or what should you have him do?

            Seriously…I feel sorry for Republicans…are these STOOGES for big business and corporations the BEST y’all can come up with???!!!!

            This is gonna be fun to watch…just as much fun as it was to watch McCain and Sara Palin.

          • montanabill

            Sorry that your son has impairments. I have a grandson with problems. I don’t expect you or anyone else to contribute to his care or feeding. That is my family’s responsibility. If there are more than 50% of the people out there who think that it is government’s responsibility to put a gun to other American’s heads to collect money to give to you, then you are right about the outcome of the election.

          • joyscarbo

            Not all families have the financial capability to support their disabled family member. The cost of providing care for a disabled person can be quite prohibitive. I do all I can for my son. Unlike you, I have no problem paying taxes for services to help the disabled and poor. I’d like to say that our legislators care but programs that benefit the developmentally disabled community are constantly being cut, while the pay less taxes than I do.

          • montanabill

            Paying taxes is the most inefficient way to help the disadvantaged. Direct support insures that a much greater percentage of your dollar actually helps. It also minimizes, greatly, the amount of your money that goes to fraud and abuse. Because of the very nature of government, the so-called ‘waste, fraud and abuse’ will never be lessened. If you simply isolate any single government program and do an analysis on it, you will find that the rules for providing assistance are overly complex and unruly and poorly managed. That means there is an open door for con artists. With private sector programs, much more attention is paid to get assistance to the intended target. We also have a great many people in this country who feel that taxes (whether they pay them or not) are their charity contribution and, thus, don’t feel the need to contribute directly to good charities.

          • joyscarbo

            I’m going to make a couple of assumptions from your screename. You’re a man who is from Montana. I’m assuming that you live as far off the grid as you can- or, you would like to live off grid completely. You don’t believe in any kind of government involvement in your life, you believe only in self-reliance. The only people you trust are family and a very short list of likeminded trusted friends. Correct? I think it’s fine and dandy that you live and think the way you do and you have a constitutional right to live that way. You’re a very small minority and the majority of people don’t live or think the way you do.
            I believe in the good things that government can do to lifts it’s people. My son, my family and I have experienced some programs that really helped us. When I was a single mom on welfare back in the 90’s, I was enrolled in college full-time and a government program for students with children helped subsidize child care and books. I collected welfare for 5 years while I worked to get my bachelors degree. I didn’t like being on welfare but I thank God it was there.
            So I guess what I’m saying is that when there’s discussion about government and all the programs that are meant to help people, we’re not talking to you because you don’t believe these programs should exist in the first place. You’re a bird with one song, Montana, and I got your one and only message: Government is bad. Got it. Lets hope your self sufficience never collapses and you find yourself reaching out to help from the *gulp* the dreaded government.

          • montanabill

            You can’t go by handles. I grew up on a dirt street in poor neighborhood. I battled some serious childhood diseases and my family prevailed, without a $1 of government help. I started working when I was 9. I did every kind of dirty job you could imagine. I put myself through college, no loans, no family money. Since I had to scrimp on every penny and work every evening, college was not an enjoyable experience, but in the end I wound up with advanced degrees and even taught graduate school for a while. I started two businesses that failed using my own money. I started a third business with $300. No loans, no other investment money. To say it was hard would be an understatement. Today, it is a thriving company providing employment to many in many states. Every year government makes it harder to operate. This year, Obamacare has hit us very hard since I pay for my employees’ and their family’s healthcare. Despite the government’s claim that corporate officers pay less effective rate taxes than their secretaries, in the case of the vast majority of small business in this country, it is not true. I can’t say the government is all bad, but too much government definitely is and they are proving it everyday. People don’t need government help as much as they think. You can do it on your own. And, remember, every dime that the government gives to someone was taken from someone else. It was not a donation.

          • Sid

            You know I’ve heard this B.S. story over and over wouldn’t surprise me to find this on snopes as a form letter sent to all loyal No-cons. I’m gonna call it as I see it YOU SIR are a liar plain and simple.

            EVERYtime I hear someone like you spouting government is bad they ALWAYS come back with I’ve never taken a dime I grew up poorer then dirt I ate dog crap off the streets as I worked as a dishwasher to put myself through collage. OH amzing when someone says they have a disabled child AMAZINGLY so does the responded wow what a small world and you take care of his needs as you don’t need assitance BULL CRAP!! Apparently you’ve never been to the ER now all areas are different and in many higfher then mine but just end of last year I ened up in the hospital 1300 dollars for the ambulance ride to take me 4 blocks from my house to the ER. 3500 dollar ER buill NOT including the doctors as they are private contractors 500 dollars for their services you are either a rich troll on here or full of Sh#t and I’m betting the latter. As for your monicker you never said if you were actually form Montana and ifnot why the name you just like saying Montana?

            I could have closed my eyes and recited what you said. I’ve also heard them on right wing talk radio ya’ll might want to atleast change a line or two so they don’t sound so much the same.

            So if your kind is so anti government why is it then the RED STATES recieve mor efederal dollars then Blues states? Hmm interesting..

          • montanabill

            You are free to believe what you what and since any scenario other than the one you believe would disrupt your firm belief that someone else needs to take care of you, I doubt that you believe even if you knew me. But you know what, I happen to know lots of people who have lived the same kind of life as I have. That obviously hasn’t happened in your circle. FYI, I live far away from Montana in a major metropolitan city. Montana just happens to be one of the last places where a substantial number of people still have the individualistic attitude. Unfortunately it is changing rapidly as the colleges churn out more liberal arts majors than scientists or engineers and Californians flee what they have created.

  • Ed

    Twoo hundred years of depending on Free Enterprise left us with the great depression and not much else. Yes lincoln had some great ideas. In those days 160 acres of land made you a wealthy man. And the landgrant colleges were a tremendous boon to both the country and Free Enterprise. Free land for the railroads, under government protection was a huge plus to free enterprise. (We had to practically exterminate theprevious owners but you can’t make an omelet with breaking eggs) Hoover became President because of his work using US Government resources to keep the people of Europe from starving after WW I, but he did not believe the same should be done for American citizens after the 29 crash. Spent all of his time begging the big businesses which supported him to do something. They did. Sat on their hands. Only with Roosevelt did the general welfare improve. The economy did not improve because the “money men” hated “that man in the white house”. “Grandpa Ike” made us all feel good and kept us out of war, but his Interstate Highway Program severely brent the fabric of society.

    • William Deutschlander

      But over all you must admit the interstate highway system also brought our country closer together. You could make a similar case regarding jet aircraft.

  • TheOldNorthChurch

    David – Are you trying to rewrite history?

    LBJ was not a “Great President”. He did not bring us the Civil Rights Act, Everett Dirksen was the instrumental person who turned the tide after years of Democratic Party opposition. LBJ did bring us one historical change.

    His expansion and mismanagement of the Vietnam War lead him to the desperate need of hiding astronomical deficits mounting in the Federal Budget. His claim to history was he merged the collection of FICA taxes with the General Revenues and started the downward spiral of the “Social Security Trust Fund”. Johnson was so successful that Milhous and every administration that followed copied his lead and ended the trust fund protection which has lead us to the sorry state we are in today.

    Truth is a powerful ally and it will set us free. The “American Spring” is coming.

    • William Deutschlander

      Correct me if I am wrong but I do not see much truth in the majority of POLITICANS.
      Please define your “AMERICAN SPRING”, might be interesting?

  • William Deutschlander

    The problem here is you are revealing the TRUTH, Mitt Romney DENIES the truth and his constant LIES attempt to obliterate the TRUTH.
    Mitt Romney is a consumate, pathalogical liar who very desperately needs the services of the Medical Community.
    Adding to the horror of Romney’s lies is the millions of people who accept anything they hear as TRUTH, never pausing to evaluate and fact check what they hear. This in itself is a very grave danger to the existence of our DEMOCRACY, we the people MUST FACT CHECK every politicans word to determine if we are being told the truth or is it fantasy.
    Remember our GOVERNMENT is in place for ALL the people, to protect our basic rights and to perform a more perfect union, without our GOVERNMENT there can be no such thing as FREE ENTERPRISE.
    Mitt Romney and BAIN CAPITAL took from the economy and did not provide anything of value to our economy, I would call it PARASITIC CAPITALISM!

  • howa4x

    Americans are a stupid people and Romney is banking on that for his election. Most don’t know what LBJ did or even less about FDR. They know about Lincoln but even Michelle Bachmann thought that the revolutionary war freed the slaves, not the civil war, and she ran for president. Hopefully independents, women and latinos know more. Romney is trying to hide his real agenda, and that is why he keeps saying Obama is hiding his. Romney wants to go back to the policies of GWB, that created the 1% of which he is a proud member. He wants all regulation removed from his sacred Wall st and allow them to rule. Profits are his goal and once again he will try to fool the middle class to vote against their own interest and that of their children. Why not, it worked well with the Tea Party, but they are easy to fool, just ask Dick Armey, or any Fox contributer. Romney’s real problem will come soon enough when he has to justify all his right wing statements, and tell people who are really hurting and will look to government for help, that the corporation is really their only hope. That should be interesting to watch, and I hope Lincoln, FDR, and LBJ are looking down and laughing

  • Fantastic article. Obama had a chance to be one of the best, given the slightest cooperation from Congress. If reelected he has the intellect and drive to shine,that is baring some extreme tradgedy. If Romney keeps kissing Tea Party ass, he has potential to be the worst President ever,by any standard. For this guy to pass judgement on Obama is beyond stupid and arrogant.

  • LBJ was a deeply flawed man. On a scale of 1-10 I would not know how to rate him, but would probably have to give a passing grade overall. So why did Romney include him instead of somebody like Truman or Washington or Teddy Roosevelt? I guess he was just name dropping.

  • LBJ was a deeply flawed man. On a scale of 1-10 I guess I would have to give him a passing grade,which is hard,because he knew we could not “win” Vietnam but tried to hold the line anyway. Why did Romney include him instead of Washington,Truman, or Teddy Roosevelt.Just name dropping I guess.

  • When I was in the military and afterward’s working Defence Electronics, I learned to appreciate the R&D, non-profit, mission oriented goal setting that the government invested in. Private industry would never have financed the development of any of the equipment that I worked on.The main frame computer’s we used to calculate firing solutions and determined which targets to engage and in what order were the same computers adapted to private industry, especially the auto assembly lines. Medical research is strongly financed by the government through our colleges and universities. This provides training and intellectual development for not only for academia, but our future healthcare professionals. This also benefits private industry with crucial information to develop medical equipment and pharmaceutics. The government provided my retread training to become a truck driver, it cost $3,700.00. I’ll bet that me and my truck generated 100 times that cost: 120,000 miles, the fuel to make it happen, the parts and maintenance to keep the truck and trailers running, the taxes generated, the cost of my truck, the commerce generated from the freight and the various trailers that I pulled. The Nation got allot back from the tax payers investment of $3,700.00. I drove 11 years, trained other driver’s, produced approximately 1,500,000 miles do the math for revenues generated, I think it would think that it would be staggering. Nixon passed the EPA Bill, as messed up and uptight and unjustly restrictive, and just plain wrong as the EPA can be; the rivers and sky would be intolerable. When I was growing up on the banks of the Ohio River, you couldn’t stand the smell and the shore would be littered with dead fish. We had it easy, others had their rivers catch on fire, sometimes for day’s at a time! I left in 1977 and came back in 1991, the first thing I noticed was that the river didn’t have dead fish littering the banks and didn’t stink any more. In Charleston, WV (the chemical capital of the world), the air was as brown and thick as any in Los Angeles or Pittsburgh and had a harsh burning affect on your breathing. The free Market would have NEVER cleaned up their act if they hadn’t been forced to by the government!

    • well said i grew up around the ohio in the 50’s and early 60’s

  • What Romney is talking about is Rubbish don’t believe the Hype! He will do nothing make rich people richer and eliminate middle class. Don’t take him serious anybody who does everything in his power not to pay American Taxes with offshore accounts.