‘Hoot-Smalley’

‘HOOT-SMALLEY’…. I’m a little late on this one — I try to limit myself to one Michele Bachmann post a day — but the Minnesota Laughingstock delivered a doozy of a speech on the House floor this week, which deserves all the attention it’s received.

“We were led to believe that we would see great change, immediate change, and all we’re seeing is a prolonged effort, because just what happened in the 1930s with FDR.

“The more the government spent, the more the government regulated, the more the government put up tariff barriers — trade barriers — the more government intervened, the longer the recession occurred. And as a matter of fact, the recession that FDR had to deal with wasn’t as bad as the recession Coolidge had to deal with in the early ’20s. Yet, the prescription that Coolidge put on that, from history, is lower taxes, lower regulatory burden, and we saw the roaring ’20s where we saw markets and growth in the economy like we never seen before in the history of the country.

“FDR applied just the opposite formula — the Hoot-Smalley Act, which was a tremendous burden on tariff restrictions, and then, of course, trade barriers and the regulatory burden and tax barriers. That’s what we saw happen under FDR. That took a recession and blew it into a full-scale depression. The American people suffered for almost 10 years under that kind of thinking.”

Now, the notion that Franklin Roosevelt was responsible for the Great Depression is standard right-wing nonsense, and hardly worth paying attention to. Bachmann’s argument, however, is more of a hilarious twist on the usual palaver. Indeed, her version of history suggests the Minnesota Republican is living in some kind of alternate reality. (It would help explain Bachmann’s belief that Jimmy Carter was president in 1976 — perhaps, in her reality, he was.)

It’s hard to even know where to start with this. The economy under Coolidge was worse than the Great Depression? That’s pretty nutty. The New Deal created the Great Depression? That’s certainly yahooism at its finest.

But of particular interest is Bachmann’s belief that FDR passed “the Hoot-Smalley Act” and that “took a recession and blew it into a full-scale depression.” First, the name of the law was “Smoot-Hawley.” Second, it’s a real stretch to argue that it was responsible for the Great Depression. And third, the Smoot-Hawley bill was championed by Republicans and signed by Herbert Hoover, FDR’s Republican predecessor.

Bachmann is blaming FDR for a law sponsored by Republicans, which was implemented three years before he took office.

At least, that’s how it happened in our reality.

Seriously, if Michele Bachmann is some kind of performance artist, she should try some new act.