Sharron Angle and the stimulus of World War II

SHARRON ANGLE AND THE STIMULUS OF WORLD WAR II…. Sharron Angle (R), the extremist Senate candidate in Nevada, is slowly but surely starting to engage the media a little more. Yesterday, she even chatted with the New York Times at a campaign office in Las Vegas.

To be sure, Angle seemed cautious, and didn’t make any comments that are likely to become major controversies, but there was an exchange that stood out for me.

Q. Did Keynesian economics, the stimulus spending, work in the Depression of the ’30s?

A. No. And I think history has really proven that to be true. Most economists agree that the thing that really worked, which is a sad commentary, is the war.

Now, it’s no longer unusual for right-wing voices to insist that the New Deal didn’t work. It’s an absurd position, belied by reality, but it’s hardly shocking anymore. Republicans went through a period in which they moved away from Hoover and accepted much of the FDR legacy — just ask Ike — but those days are over, and Hoover is back en vogue amongst 21st century Republicans. It’s crazy, but it’s true.

But it’s that other part of the answer that I found confusing. The Depression ended once and for all, thanks to World War II. That’s not an unreasonable assessment. But what does Angle think that means, exactly. In the first breath, she argued that Keynesian economics and stimulus spending were discredited. In the second breath, she argued that WWII boosted the economy.

But the first thought doesn’t match the second. The war was a shot in the economy’s arm because of all the spending. The government generated manufacturing on a scale unseen in American history, which put people back to work, got factories humming, etc. If Angle realizes the war improved the economy, how, exactly, does she think that happened?*

The rest of the interview was relatively boilerplate — she wants to “pay back on the debt” and “reduce marginal tax rates,” blissfully unaware of the contradiction — and a reminder of why Angle is hard to take seriously.

But also note that the NYT asked if she’s “too conservative” for Nevada. Angle replied, “People have always said — those words, ‘too conservative,’ is fairly relative. I’m sure that they probably said that about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.”

First, no, “they” didn’t. Second, we knew Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin; Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin were friends of ours.

Sharron Angle, you’re no Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin.

* edited slightly for clarity