Most Americans Want a "New, New Deal"


Randall G. Shelden


The Obama campaign would do well to read the latest Rockefeller/Time poll taken this past June.  The survey found that an “overwhelming majority of Americans are concerned about their financial situations, economic futures, and calling our for more government help.”  The answers to most of the questions they were asked clearly reveals a solid support for “New Deal” type programs, despite conservative (and some liberal) claims that Americans have moved to the right politically.[1]


Here are some of the questions posed to this sample of Americans, with the percentage either strongly in favor or somewhat in favor of:


·         Increase government spending on public-works projects to help create jobs (82%)

·         Limiting rate increases on adjustable mortgages to keep them more affordable (78%)

·         Increase government programs to provide healthcare to those who can’t afford it (76%)

·         Cutting taxes on middle and low income people (75%)

·         Increase taxes on corporations (69%)

·         Provide paid maternal leave (68%)

·         Expand unemployment benefits and increase the number of weeks of coverage (67%)

·         Provide government funded child care to all parents so they can work (66%)

·         Raising taxes on higher income people (64%)

·         Make it less profitable for companies to outsource jobs to foreign countries (63%)

·         Increase regulation of mortgage lenders (84%)

·         Increase the minimum wage to keep up with the cost of living (84%)

·         Provide quality health care for everyone, regardless of ability to pay (51%)

·         Provide higher tax incentives for use of alternative energy (84%)



What is needed is what Paul Krugman has called a “New, New Deal.” He suggests starting with universal health care and continuing onto job creation and other reform measures, just like FDR did with the original “New Deal.”[2] Some have suggested instituting a kind of “Marshall Plan” for the inner cities.[3] Doing this requires reversing the trends begun during the Reagan years, which means reversing the tax cuts that have lined the pockets of the super rich.[4]  Also, there will be plenty of money to spend if we stop spending the estimated $341 million in Iraq every day.[5] A recent study by Chalmers Johnson found that the “real” Pentagon budget is more than $1 trillion, since this includes all “defense-related” spending.  Moreover, the current debt is now in excess of $9 trillion, created largely by the invasion and occupation of Iraq.[6]

Raising the share of taxes paid by corporations would certainly help.  One recent study noted that “corporate income tax revenues fell to $132 billion in 2003, down 36 percent from $207 billion in 2000.”[7] A Wall Street Journal report notes that, according to the IRS, “the Fortunate 400 now control 1.15% of the nation’s income — twice the share they controlled in 1995. Over the same period, however, the average income tax paid by this same group has fallen from 30% to 18%. That’s due mainly to the Bush tax cuts.”[8]

Take a good look at the numbers who favor such a “New, New Deal.”  It is time for the Democratic Party to return to its post-World War II roots. It is time for this party to stop moving to the middle. Americans are further to the left of the political spectrum than the Republicans have led us to believe. 


 © 2008, Randall G. Shelden. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced without permission from the author. 




[1] Rockefeller Foundation/Time Poll, June 17, 2008


[2] Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal.  New York: WW Norton, 2007. Others have suggested this. See Dodd, R. (2008). “Politically Incorrect Solutions: What About a New Deal-Style Jobs Program?” Dollars and Sense, April 16.

[3] “LA Needs a Marshall Plan to Stop Gangs.”   Jan. 13, 2007; Bischof, G.Katrina Journal: What We Need Is a Marshall Plan in Reverse.”  History News Network, October 17, 2005.; Pogrebin, R. (2007). “Rebuilding New Orleans, Post-Katrina Style.” New York Times, November 6. Named after the Secretary of State George Marshall, this was officially called the “European Recovery Program” that aimed at rebuilding much of Europe through economic aid from the United States.  Part of the plan included helping Japan rebuild.  For more details see the following web site:


[4]  Kamin, D. and I. Shapiro (2004). “Studies Shed New Light on Effects of Administration’s Tax Cuts.” Washington, DC: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, September 13.


[5]  Here’s the web site:


[6]  See the following web sites , and


[7] Friedman, J. (2003). “The Decline of Corporate Income Tax Revenues.”  Washington, DC: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October 24.; see also Ackman, D. (2004). “U.S. Corporations Paying Less in Taxes.” Forbes (September 23).   This story noted that a “study released yesterday by Citizens for Tax Justice and the affiliated Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy finds that in 2003 alone, 46 of the 275 companies it reviewed paid no taxes at all in 2003, despite reporting a total of $42.6 billion in pre-tax profits. Indeed, these companies received $5.4 billion in tax rebates that year. In the last three years, 82 of the country's largest profitable corporations paid no federal income tax for at least one year of the Bush administration's first three years, the study found.” Another study found that “Federal revenue from corporate taxes has fallen from 6.4 percent of gross domestic product, the nation's output of goods and services, in 1951 to a mere 1.5 percent to 2 percent of GDP in the last few years.” Francis, D. R. (2005). “As Corporate Taxes Shrink, Who Pays?” Christian Science Monitor (March 14):  

[8] “Incomes for Super Rich Grow Faster Than Their Taxes.”  Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2008.