Transcript #143-1

Beyond The New Deal: Challenge A Right-Winger With FDR's Second Bill Of Rights


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



Your sources for this segment include: the Boston Globe, the University of Virginia's Miller Center,, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times.


Two podcasts ago you heard me debunk the right's claim that the New Deal failed, or even made things worse. 


The facts of course are, that the New Deal reduced unemployment every year, except when Roosevelt started implementing more conservative policies.  New Deal financial regulations provided the foundation of a recovery and a stable economic system.  And millions upon millions of Americans were helped by New Deal jobs and other programs, allowing them to survive the Republican Great Depression. 


Many economists feel that the problem with the New Deal is that it didn't go far enough, in terms of spending, or else it would have been even more successful in the short term.


The right's anti-New Deal offensive is aimed at besmirching Obama's stimulus plan.


You know the old saying, the best defense is a good offense?  Well, instead of just playing defense and defending the New Deal against Republican attacks, let's go on the offensive.


I've got something for you to throw at them that'll induce cardiac arrest  -- figuratively speaking of course (especially since right-wingers have no heart.  Ok, cheap shot.)


What I'm talking about is, FDR's Second Bill of Rights.


Have you ever heard of it?


It all started with his Four Freedoms speech, his State of the Union address delivered in January 1941.


Listen to near the end of the speech, where FDR speaks words I don't think were ever uttered before by a leader of a major world power.  If I'm wrong, please let me know.


audio: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. 

The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world. 

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world. 

Ok, here it comes, the never-before-uttered third freedom:


audio: FDR

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world. 

And then he concludes:


audio: FDR

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point  and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world. 

"Freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world."


Freedom from want?  Rightwingers and libertarians advocate the freedom to be in want, freedom to starve to death even if you're ready, willing and able to work.  Right-wing freedom.


Perhaps you're thinking of the same famous quote I am, from Anatole France:


The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread

FDR made it clear:


audio: FDR

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.

Not a pipe dream.  Obtainable in his generation, 60 years ago.  We still haven't.  Damn right-wingers!



Now, let's look at this strategically.


I agree with linguist and progressive advocate George Lakeoff that we progressives need to reclaim the word freedom.


Lakoff puts it like this:


Social security, the minimum wage, universal healthcare, college for all are ways to guarantee freedom from want.

…The 45 million working people who can't afford healthcare cannot all pull themselves up by their bootstraps. An economy that drives down wages to increase investor profits creates a cheap labor trap. The trap works against freedom from want.

For more than two centuries, Americans demanded successive expansions of freedom -- progressive freedom. Expansions of voting rights, civil rights, education, public health, scientific knowledge, and protections from fear and want: These all made us freer to follow our dreams. These were the ideals of freedom that I grew up with. They are now all under threat, not by guns or bombs, but an under-the-radar redefinition of freedom and liberty to suit right-wing ideology.

And a phenomenal way to go on the offensive with this progressive concept of freedom, is by invoking FDR's Second Bill of Rights.


It was January,1944, in the middle of World War II.  Plenty of hard fighting still ahead.  A conflict that makes our so-called "War on Terror" seem like a walk in the park.


We faced enemies like Tojo's Japan and Hitler's Germany that truly had the power to take over the world.  Not 19 guys with box cutters.


There was rationing, not calls to go shopping.


Did FDR say, oh, it's a time of war, we can't afford to make sure all Americans have their basic needs met?  We can't afford housing, health care, decent jobs.  We can't afford all that, it's too expensive, not at this time.


No, the exact opposite.


In his January 11, 1944 State of the Union speech, FDR set forth what one of the Four Freedoms, freedom from want, would entail.


First he mentioned the ultimate global goal:


audio: FDR

[A]n equally basic essential to peace --permanent peace -- is a decent standard of living for all individual men and women and children in all nations. Freedom from fear is eternally linked with freedom from want.  

Then he went on to set a philosophical foundation as applied to the United States.


audio: FDR

More than the winning of the war, it is time to begin plans and determine the strategy for winning a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever known before.  

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights -- among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.  

We have come to a clearer realization of the fact, however, that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are  , people who are out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

I've played that "necessitous men" quote before, from FDR's 1936 acceptance speech at the Democratic convention.  He likes that quote.  So do I.  It's kind of progressive thought in a nutshell.


It's also a hallmark of right-wing thought.  Necessitous men are not free men, they agree.  But they want them to be necessitous.  To keep large numbers of workers at subsistence level wages, too busy slaving away to challenge those in power.  And guaranteeing maximum profits.


FDR goes on to name and flesh out his second bill of rights:


audio: FDR

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all -- regardless of station, or race or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries, or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of farmers to raise and sell their products at a return which will give them and their families a decent living;     

A living wage, not a minimum wage an inch above starvation, but a living wage, enough to lead a decent life.


If you work full time, you won't be in poverty.  Period.  Over 9 in 10 Americans agree that's how it should be.


You know, in these excerpts. you're not hearing a guy who, ok, he's great on the issues, like Dennis Kucinich, but he's not likely to ever be President. This is the actual President of the United States speaking.  A President who'd already been elected three times, and would go on to be elected for a fourth term.


I think I'd drop dead of a heart attack if I ever heard a current day US President speak like this.


In a moment, more of FDR's Second Bill of Rights.  Stick around.






Continuing on with Mr. Roosevelt:


audio: FDR

The right of every business man, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;  

Reagan and those Republicans following him, stopped enforcing the Sherman Antitrust Act.  And Roosevelt could never imagine the size of the present day multinationals dominating the global economy.


audio: FDR

The right of every family to a decent home;

What, the underpass isn't good enough?


audio: FDR

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

Truman tried to pass a national health care program.  Couldn't.  You know who's to blame.   


Guess who else proposed a federal guarantee of adequate health care?


Richard M. Nixon during his first term.


Thanks to listener Craig from Indiana for pointing this out to me.


Hey right-wingers, that makes sense, doesn't it?  Nixon proposing a socialist, commie, pinko-type thing.  After all, wasn't he the traitor who normalized relations with Communist China?


Listen to me:


Every single other developed nation on the planet earth has a guarantee of health care for all its citizens.


Are they all crazy, or is it us?


Why are they so much more morally advanced than we are?


Why are we as a nation so morally backward?


Actually, that's not fair.   The American people have consistently supported a federal guarantee of health care.


A New York Times poll asked:


Do you think the federal government should guarantee health insurance for all Americans, or isn’t this the responsibility of the federal government?

64% supported the guarantee, only 27% disagreed.


And in the last 10 years, the number in support has considerably grown.  The trend is our way.


It's the hard right and the health-industrial complex mega-lobby who sabotage this.  A compliant corporate media repeats ad nauseam the idiotic claim that it's not politically doable, it's properly off the table, it's out of the realm of possibility.


All these talking heads have gold-plated health care plans themselves, you can be sure.  As do all members of Congress, including all those holier-than-thou, government shouldn't guarantee health care right-wingers.


Ok, let me get back to some more FDR for you, as he continues on with his Second Bill of Rights.


audio: FDR

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, and sickness, and accident and unemployment;

And finally, the right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

Now listen to this warning:


audio: FDR

America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.    

One of the great American industrialists of our day -- a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis -- recently emphasized the grave dangers of "rightist reaction" in this Nation. mAll clear-thinking business men share that concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop -- if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called "normalcy" of the 1920's -- then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of fascism here at home.  

FDR fears fascism if people are unfed, unhoused, and the like.


audio: FDR

I ask the Congress to explore the means for implementing this economic bill of rights -- for it is definitely the responsibility of the Congress so to do, and the country knows it. Many of these problems are already before committees of the Congress in the form of proposed legislation. I shall from time to time communicate with the Congress with respect to these and further proposals. In the event that no adequate program of progress is evolved, I am certain that the Nation will be conscious of the fact.    

He knows the people want it.


And finally, a propos of our own war on terror, such as it is:


audio: FDR

Our fighting men abroad -- and their families at home -- expect such a program and have the right to insist on it. It is to their demands that this Government should pay heed, rather than to the whining demands of selfish pressure groups who seek to feather their nests while young Americans are dying.  

In other words, war-profiteering chickenhawks


I'm going to have to go off here again, at least a bit.


War profiteering drives me insane.


In a 1939 radio address, the very first one he made after WWII broke out in Europe, FDR said:


audio: FDR

I cannot prophesy the immediate economic effect of this new war on our Nation, but I do say that no American has the moral right to profiteer at the expense either of his fellow citizens or of the men, the women, and the children who are living and dying in the midst of war in Europe.

Another time, Roosevelt proclaimed "I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster."


Can you imagine George W. Bush or any of these right-wing neo-cons saying anything like that?


It's the exact opposite.


As you heard way back in podcast 30, the profits of military contractors skyrocketed, as the cost of the Iraq War soared.


The biggest winner at least a couple of years ago?  Halliburton, Dick Cheney's old stomping grounds.  What a surprise there, huh?


Nothing to do with fact Cheney ran the company.


As a New York Times writer put it, "look at the money machines these contractors have become as the war drags on."


And the Bush family, including members you never heard of, is making sure to get its fair share.


In podcast 37 you heard about William H. T. Bush, Georgie's Uncle Bucky, who pocketed a cool $2.7 million in cash and stock.   The company he was a director of, made out like a bandit with military contracts once the Iraq and Afghan wars got under way.



How prescient was FDR?


Proof that Roosevelt was correct, that his Second Bill of Rights is critical not just for a fair and decent America, but for a peaceful world itself, is now smacking us in the face.


As reported a few weeks ago in the New York Times, under the headline "Job Losses Pose a Threat to Stability Worldwide":


Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009…

High unemployment rates, especially among young workers, have led to protests in countries as varied as Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland [and I'd add, China] and contributed to strikes in Britain and France.

Last month, the government of Iceland, whose economy is expected to contract 10 percent this year, collapsed and the prime minister moved up national elections after weeks of protests by Icelanders angered by soaring unemployment and rising prices.

The International Monetary Fund expects that by the end of the year, global economic growth will reach its lowest point since the Depression.

How serious is this?


Just last week, the new United States director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told Congress that instability caused by the global economic crisis had become the biggest security threat facing the United States, outpacing terrorism.

These right-wingers and their rob from everyone else to give to the rich economic policies are dangerous.


They're screwing up the entire world.


Increasing human misery, suffering, pain and death on a global scale.


Next week or shortly thereafter, I'll tell you about how FDR's Second Bill of Rights has actually gone global, been enshrined as an aspiration by all the world's nations.


Until then, go on the offensive with what you heard here today.


If your rightward-inclined friends, relatives and acquaintances start bashing the New Deal, turn it around.


Say "What are you talking about, the New Deal didn't go far enough.  I want to see FDR's Second Bill of Rights implemented."


And then tell them all about it.




Transcript #143-2

Hannity Truth Patrol: Do Tax Cuts Increase Gov't Revenue?


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



How would you like to now go from sublime social justice philosophizing to every day, run-of-the-mill right-wing lying?


Your sources in this QuickBlast segment include, and


Here's Sean Hannity and Mary Matalin during the '08 campaign, propagating a lie that's repeated endlessly to this day.  Get a whiff of this mutual reinforcement of misbelief, or deliberate lying.  Hard to tell which.


audio: Sean Hannity, Mary Matalin

HANNITY: We've got to strengthen the dollar, we've got to create investment opportunities. I'd eliminate the corporate income tax -- just get rid of it.

MATALIN: Yes, yes.

HANNITY: Let's bring business to America and say, "If you come here, you're going to make money, and you're going to get to keep your money." I'd cut the capital gains tax -- the opposite of which direction that Barack Obama wants to go in. Do you wish that we were hearing more of these solutions to the Republicans' plan?

MATALIN: Yes, and my presumption is that, by the next debate, not the vice presidential debate, because it'll be the presidential candidates that will be setting the policy, that McCain -- John McCain -- who started, at least gave the beginning of an answer to how he would -- what he would do in response to having what is at least gonna be a short-term cost to the taxpayers -- is that he'd freeze spending. Well, then the next step is to lower taxes, because it creates jobs and it creates wealth back -- revenues back to the government, starting with taxes, and do capital gains and expand that. Every time -- we have to keep teaching history over and over -- going back to Jack Kennedy, every time we cut taxes --

HANNITY: We raise revenues.

MATALIN: -- we --

HANNITY: We raise revenue. All right, here's my next question.

It's just not true


Don't take my word for it. Or the words of liberal economists.


I'm not going to tell you what a single progressive economist says.


Only those on Hannity's side.  To show you the depth of his intellectual barrenness.


Conservative economists say what Hannity is selling is pure poppycock.


Take your pick:


Alan Viard, senior economist for Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, speaking of Bush's tax cuts:


[F]ederal revenue is lower today than it would have been without the tax cuts. There's really no dispute among economists about that.

Edward Lazear when he was chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors:


Will the tax cuts pay for themselves? As a general rule, we do not think tax cuts pay for themselves. Certainly, the data presented…do not support this claim.

Here's another chief economist for that advisory council under Bush, and John McCain's senior policy advisor, Douglas Holtz-Eakin:


You are not going to get tax cuts to pay for themselves.

And another former chairman of Bush's council, Gregory Mankiw. He wrote:


[A] broad-based income tax cut …would recoup only about a quarter of the lost revenue through supply-side growth effects. For a cut in capital income taxes, the feedback is larger -- about 50 percent -- but still well under 100 percent.

Even Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson at his 2006 confirmation hearing said


As a general rule, I don't believe that tax cuts pay for themselves.

The radical left website Market Watch said that Paulson was "echoing the opinion of most economists."


And what about increasing taxes?  Does that reduce revenue, like right-wingers claim?


No.  Mankiw again:


Some supply-siders like to claim that the distortionary effect of taxes is so large that increasing tax rates reduces tax revenue. Like most economists, I don't find that conclusion credible for most tax hikes, and I doubt Mr. Paulson does either.

As mentioned earlier, all this applies to capital gains cuts as well.


By the way, right-wingers are totally happy with tax cuts reducing government revenue.  Starve the beast.  Drown it in the bathtub.  All that.


So there you have it.  Hannity will give you phony stats about how Reagan's tax cuts increased revenue, blah blah blah.


Just tell any right-winger making any of these ludicrous claims to you, that the leading conservative economists disagree.




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