The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era Hardcover – 14 Aug 2012
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About the Author
Michael Grunwald is a Time senior correspondent. He has won the George Polk Award for national reporting, the Worth Bingham Award for investigative reporting, and many other prizes. The Washington Post called his first book, The Swamp, “a brilliant work of research and reportage,” and The New York Times called him “a terrific writer.” He lives in Florida.
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Its true that the book is generally sympathetic to Obama and the stimulus, and therefore played to my particular prejudices. But generally the author's judgements are sound, and his careful approach contrasts starkly with the sometimes frankly deranged rhetoric of the Republicans. At times of crisis there is a need for an opposition to say "hang on, have you thought this through?", and proper conservatism is a perfectly respectable position to take. But the focus on tactics, automatic nay-saying and sheer carelessness about the way they put arguments shown by the Republicans in recent years is astonishing - and a bit frightening.
Anyway, if you are into this sort of thing, read the book. Its well-written and an enjoyable read.
In 'The New New Deal' Grunwald both tells the story of the how the act came to be and how it passed through Congress, despite heavy opposition by a Republican opposition who realized that its only way back into majority and power was to be united against Barack Obama, and how the act was structured and split.
It was an epic (yes, I dare use that word) read for me and as it promised on the dust jacket of the book, it redefined the way I perceive Obama's first term. I couldn't stop reading it, flipping back and forth (sometime to be remembered who this and that person was) and stealing time out of my schedule to read it. I even ended up with 14 pages of notes. It's just plain awesome. Simple as that.
It even made The Economist write the following in the review of the book:
»"The New New Deal" is the most interesting book that has been published about the Obama administration. Even Republicans should read it.«
I most certainly agree. And you should read it as well.
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Although Grunwald undoubtedly leans to the left, a careful examination of the current political climate probably reveals that he just leans towards reality - something Democrats have done a much better job living in than Republicans. Even with this being said, Grunwald is very much a critical supporter of the Obama administration, pointing out flaws in messaging, assumptions in politics, and the punting of key pieces of legislature down the road. In all, Grunwald attempts to be unbiased and bipartisan, but maintaining balance in politics when one side has veered off towards crazytown is a trying endeavor.
The New New Deal follows the stimulus from its roots prior to the Obama presidency to its beginnings in political gamesmanship to its ultimate influence on the economy and infrastructure in the United States. The book is guaranteed to be filled with notes on the stimulus of which most people aren't aware, which only drives home the point that Democrats did a poor job selling it and explaining it. Instead, Republicans were able to twist facts, lie outright and obscure the general public's view in an attempt to obstruct Obama's attempts at helping the country along towards a greater recovery.
Despite the negative perceptions of the stimulus, it pulled America out of the Great Recession (preventing another depression), helped states right their finances, put people to work with shovel-ready jobs and extended benefits to the poor and unemployed - all while laying the foundation for a clean tech industry, providing solar and wind power, and greater biofuels. Investments in education and transportation have begun to transform key pillars of society, while a heavy investment in energy research and development (such as ARPA-E) is leading towards cleaner, renewable energy, at lower costs, built on United States soil.
Grunwald touches on every aspect of the recovery effort, including failures. Solyndra rears its ugly head, but it's noted inside the context of the greater energy investment in America. Failures were expected on cutting edge programs, and the stimulus accounted for this in its financing. Many other clean energy ventures have moved forward into profitability. In fact, the stimulus single-handedly rescued the industry from the brink. Grunwald also makes us witness the sad story of the high speed rail, as Republicans in states killed stimulus-funded railway initiatives like the Orlando-Tampa high speed line - even when the program was 100% funded and was virtually guaranteed to be a driving force in local commerce. We even get to hear about the political savvy and enthusiasm of Vice-President Joe Biden - the sheriff of the stimulus.
Obama essentially used the stimulus package to fulfill most of his campaign promises while jump-starting the economy and preventing greater pain; however, Republican obstructionism (with better messaging) not only prevented a more substantial recovery, but also twisted public perception of the greater change that has been occurring because of the stimulus. In fact, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act might just be the greatest piece of legislature in modern political history. It's just a shame no one is talking about it.
It is a noble effort, and provides much needed information on the legislation. The questions must be asked, Why hadn't the Administration itself plugged its own legislation to the public? That answer is unknown; if it had perhaps there would not have been so much opposition to the Stimulus. The book should and must be read.
This book is an easy to follow walk through what was included in our New New Deal and how it will continue to impact the States for years and even decades to come.
Know the facts before you dive into partisan hackery.