Joe vs. Cactus Jack

20 Jun

Garner and FDR Paul Krugman says the current troubles are a “depression” and compares it to a worse depression in the 1930s. Bouncing around as Krugman says we are between recession and recovery, it feels like we are flatlining.

From 1933 to 1941, the United States had a formidable executive team of a former Speaker of the House, Vice-President John “Cactus Jack” Garner and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whereas today it’s Joe Biden and Barack H. Obama. Garner and FDR agreed on the first wave of deficit spending and Federal programs, but then Cactus Jack balked when a second recession forced FDR to push for deeper intervention. Garner, a pecan farmer and boss of Hispanic laborers, broke over sit-down strikes, FDR’s Court-packing tactics, and called for a balanced budget. Although Garner had support in the Democratic party for a presidential run in 1940, FDR dispatched Garner at the nominating convention for another running mate.

Fast forward to 2012 and it seems the aggressive president and conservative vice-presidential ally have switched places. Joe Biden showed his populist flair and fire with public sector unions.

Obama and Biden That Biden was the one sent to rouse the Big Labor crowd underscores the vice president’s critical role for Obama’s re-election campaign. As the economy continues to sputter, the President has been forced to temper his support for organized labor to avoid appearing anti-business; but Biden has proven to be an effective attack dog when it comes to rallying the Democratic base.

Moreover, while Obama has always had a hard time connecting with white, blue-collar voters, his No. 2 clearly doesn’t have that problem.

And, that connection is needed, because unions are not the problem – lack of funding is. If we waited long enough all the combinations would play out. So, can Obama/Biden pull off what FDR/Garner couldn’t?

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