Next step for economic stimulus? Shore up the infrastructure


Although die-hard conservative apologists sometimes argue that FDR actually prolonged the Great Depression, most historians and economists agree that the New Deal reduced both the severity and length of the country's economic doldrums.

In fact, while World War II generally gets the credit for pulling the United States out of its tailspin, one could easily make the case that it was federal expenditure -- both before and after Pearl Harbor -- that saved America. This battle is generally an academic argument, roughly comparable with the fight over whether or not LBJ should have sent troops to Vietnam or Truman should have dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan.

Recently, however, the New Deal has come under renewed discussion, as history seems to be rewriting itself. Ironically, the President who revitalized the idea of a federally-funded economic stimulus was a Republican. George Bush's 2001 tax rebate, by all standards, helped pull the country out of an economic downturn. It, combined with this year's stimulus package, demonstrated that a direct flow of money could stimulate considerable economic growth.