My Gram Soos was born in 1916. Whenever the topic of the Great Depression came up, she'd always fit the following into the conversation.
"You know what ended the Great Depression?" she'd say with the superiority of someone who had lived through it. "The War ended the Great Depression." Then she'd pause and nod. "The War."
The War was of course backed by untold dollars courtesy of Uncle Sam. WWII was the biggest stimulus package of all time, but no one called it that.
Did it work? Hell yes it worked. After all, Hitler was real. Pearl Harbor was real. Americans could see the looming threat and they wanted to be a part of vanquishing it. They were proud to serve and see their sons serve. Americans bucked up behind gas rations and bellied up to city chicken while Rosie the Riveter did her part on the home front. These were the right and patriotic things to do.
The money Uncle Sam spent on WWII was the most effective stimulus of all time because Americans believed in every nickel of it. They perceived it as money that needed to be spent.
This essay could now take a long detour through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I'll leave that circuitous trip for you to meander on your own, dear reader. Instead I'm going to jump to 2009, when, in order to address the financial crash of 2008, Uncle Sam pumped some $800 billion into everything from unemployment to infrastructure, housing to education. Obama's stimulus package was officially titled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Unfortunately, John Q. Public didn't believe much in it. You can argue that's because the dollars weren't visible enough or that the GOP bad-mouthed it into dis-credibility or perhaps you have a reason of your own. No matter. In the end, the results were lukewarm at best.
But the auto bailout? Now that was a stimulus with some muscle.
Bush threw the first lifeline to Detroit in 2008 by redirecting some TARP (aka bank bailout) funds. Obama threw more dollars Michigan's way in 2009. In the end, Washington pumped about $80 billion into the withered auto industry. Did it work?
We love our cars. We touch them every day. Our cars are real. I have never owned an American car, but I still love the American car industry. Throw American dollars at something Americans believe in and it will succeed in the game of perception.
Who backed us when we were down?
So despite the initial unpopularity, despite all the bellyaching and moaning from the right, the middle, the wherever, Obama's staggering and consistent lead in Ohio and Michigan should come as no surprise.
Imported From Detroit vs. Let Detroit Fail
We all know the blue collar guy will KO the white collar guy with the first punch. Therein lies the Right's terrible troubles, which are coming to fruition in the wake of its We're-Against-Everything-Obama's-For-No-Matter-What modus operandi. The anti-Detroit campaign might have been appealing from a Forbes point of view--the what-ifs have been endlessly dissected and inspected, but you can't always run the country like a business. Sometimes you've got to listen to America's heart, where you'll find Chevy in a line-up with Mom, baseball and apple pie.
There are some things you should never bet against.
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