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The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 14. August 2012

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“One of the year’s deepest books” —Politico

“A must-read book” —PoliticalWire.com

“There’s plenty here for everyone to get aflutter about all over again in this riveting account of President Obama's stimulus bill. Grunwald, a Time magazine senior correspondent, provides captivating background history on the stimulus and how it may prove to be a far greater deal than the one FDR famously launched.” —Chicago Tribune

"The New New Deal is the most interesting book that has been published about the Obama administration. Even Republicans should read it." (The Economist)

“Mammoth in scope. . . . Throughout, Grunwald keeps his tone snappy and readable, while consistently grounding the political story of the Recovery Act in its real impact on everyday Americans. The result is an impressive book about the startling gap between facts and media spin.” —Publishers Weekly

“A cogent reality check of President Obama’s Recovery Act. . . . A pointed, in-the-trenches study whose thrust will be borne out with time.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Michael Grunwald is one of our generation's most original and tireless journalists—a reporter who is allergic to received wisdom, a writer with an uncommon talent for illuminating hidden truths. So it is a delight, but not a surprise, that The New New Deal demolishes clichés and vividly reframes our thinking about President Obama and his stimulus package through a gripping narrative. Even if everyone doesn't agree with Grunwald's provocative conclusions, every serious reader will see in Grunwald’s book a vindication of serious journalism, at a time when we need it.”
John Harris, Politico

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

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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HASH(0x9b83c488) von 5 Sternen Stimulus Revised 15. August 2012
Von The Ginger Man - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
The political parties disagree about whether the Recovery Act of 2009 has succeeded. This is based on deeper philosophical differences as to the preferred role of government in the economy as well as the historical effectiveness of FDR's New Deal in moderating the effects of the Great Depression. Author Mike Grunwald suggests that while reasonable people continue to debate the Recovery Act, they ought first "to hear the real story of what was in it, how it got there and how it got translated into action." To achieve this, Grunwald conducted interviews with more than 400 sources and utilized government documents as well as contemporary reporting.

In 3 sections, Grunwald covers the developing economic crisis, the passage of the bill over Republican opposition and the Recovery Act in action. He reminds us that as Obama entered office, credit was frozen, consumer confidence was at its lowest ever recorded level and the economy was shrinking at a rate of 8.9%. Within 30 days, the new administration passed an 1073 page, $787 billion dollar economy stimulus bill. Grunwald tells us that the Act was the biggest and most transformative energy bill in US history, the biggest foray into industrial policy since FDR and contained the largest middle class tax reduction since Reagan. The bill also delivered the largest infusion of research money ever, was the first modern spending bill without earmarks and required of itself unprecedented transparency and oversight. While the Administration was trying to address the needs of an economy in desperate straits, it also designed the bill to deliver on 3 of the key promises of Candidate Obama: reducing oil dependency, improving health care and upgrading education. This left VP Biden responsible for a management challenge that included coordinating 100,000 projects through 275 programs at 28 federal agencies.

Grunwald believes that the opposition party has won the image war over the stimulus package. While Republicans were disappointed at the bill's passage, they immediately mobilized their PR approach. "Republican leaders believed that the stimulus would work out for them in the end, that it would force Obama to take ownership of the soaring deficit and collapsing economy he has inherited from Bush," observes the author. Congressman Michael Pence declared, "We lost the legislative battle but we won the argument. Welcome to the beginning of the comeback." Grunwald suggests that the election in 2012 will include a recasting of this debate. "To Obama, the Recovery Act is proof that the federal government really can work, that it can create jobs and produce change. To Republicans, its proof of the exact opposite."

Grunwald believes Obama has the facts, but, to date, not the public on his side. The author has assembled an impressive list of results from the Act; either direct outputs or changes that occurred in the economic environment after its passage. Major private forecasting firms estimate the Act increased GDP 2.1 to 3.8 percent at its peak. They also estimate 2.5 million jobs created or saved and that, without the act, unemployment would have reached 12% or higher and remained in double digits through 2012. Private sector jobs have been added every month for 2 years while half a million public sector jobs have been shed during the Obama presidency. The number of Americans without shelter actually declined one per cent from 2009 to 2011. Transfer payments from the Recovery Act lifted 7 million Americans above the poverty line and the stock market has recovered its losses. The US has begun a transition toward a low carbon economy and has dragged health care into the digital era. The Administration met every spending deadline in the Act, reports Grunwald, and auditors found losses of only $7.2 million (.001%).

Whether you believe the stimulus was a success or failure, the drafting and implementation of the bill by a new Administration makes for a fascinating tale of public administration. The book also tells an interesting story about the difference between administering a policy and selling its results to the public. Finally, it demonstrates how hard it is to evaluate results of government action by comparison to what might have happened had such actions not been undertaken. Grunwald's positive evaluation of the Recovery Act do not in the end, fit the common view of stimulus results. He makes a great case, however, that his book should be read to more completely inform that view.
115 von 135 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b83c6d4) von 5 Sternen Imperfect, but a good read 19. August 2012
Von William Springer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Although I know that economists generally consider the stimulus to have been a success, and that it's considered one of the most transparent government programs ever, I've never been particularly familiar with the details outside of the HITECH Act. As such, I was looking forward to getting started on this book.

Reading the introduction made me excited about seeing what will be accomplished from the reinvestment part of the Act. It's the first time I heard about the ARPA-E agency, Obama's mini-Manhatten Project, designed to invest in high-risk, high-reward energy research. And while the size of the Act - half what economists said at the time was required, with much of it devoted to tax cuts - was a disappointment, the sheer reach is mind-boggling: investments in transportation infrastructure, investments in research, investments in healthcare, investments in energy. Reading this chapter left me wanting more, wanting to know the details behind each of these ambitious programs.

Chapter one takes a step back and looks at what Obama wanted to accomplish with the bill, what his priorities were and the values that the stimulus represented. Then in chapter two, we get what the author calls the four pillars of the stimulus. Energy: how can we reduce our energy use and our carbon footprint without reducing our standard of living? Health care: how can we prevent the explosion in health costs that were on track to take up a full third of the economy by 2040, and improve the quality of care? Education: could we reach the goals that No Child Left Behind set out, but dismally failed to reach? Finally, the economy: after a decade in which 2/3 of all income gains went to the top 1%, with an economy that was sinking - nobody knew yet how quickly - into recession, how could we make things better for the middle class? Each of these areas was a ticking bomb, with the potential to leave the United States far behind in the global economy. The stimulus would address all of them.

Chapters three and four cover the collapsing economy, and Obama's transition team's struggle to keep up with it as they planned out the stimulus, along with other efforts to ensure that Obama was ready to hit the ground running after winning the election. In the second section, we then move into the "how" of the stimulus: how much money was needed, how should it be distributed, and how do we pass the bill? The amount of trouble the economy was known to be in (and thus the amount of stimulus needed) kept increasing; while the original intent had been to immediately push tens of billions of dollars into the economy (Rahm wanted Obama to sign a bill his first day in office), it was rapidly becoming clear that a massive effort over several years would be required. The team was walking a tightrope: they needed a stimulus that was sufficiently large and effective that it would keep the economy from free-falling into a depression, yet small and bipartisan enough that it could actually make it through Congress. In September, the Senate failed to pass a $56 billion stimulus; by the time Obama was formally elected, his economists were throwing around numbers like 1.2 trillion and 1.6 trillion. In December, the president-elect decided to aim for something in the 800s - just big enough to divert disaster, but not causing Congress to choke on a trillion dollar bill. The assumption, however, was that after they proposed a stimulus (they agreed on a number between $675 billion and $775 billion), democrats would add more spending and republicans would add more tax cuts, pushing the final number closer to what the economists said they needed. Congress, however, had its own ideas...

At the time, the Senate had 99 members; Al Franken had been elected senator, but republicans kept the election tied up in court until long after the stimulus was passed. Breaking a filibuster still required 60 votes, meaning it couldn't be done without republican help. Additionally, since no republican wanted to be the vote to pass the bill, in practice it actually required 61 out of the 99 senators to pass. Most members of the republican caucus were not going to vote for the stimulus regardless of what was in it; the official policy of the republican leadership was to have every single republican in Congress vote against the bill (something they managed in the House). Although Reid allowed unlimited amendments (and every member of the Senate requested something for inclusion), only a few republicans ever considered actually supporting the bill, and it eventually passed with only three (Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Spector). Each of them, as well as blue dog democrats who wavered on supporting the bill, had enormous negotiating power. Snowe, for example, insisted that the stimulus include the $70 billion AMT fix to make Chuck Grassley happy (even though it had no stimulative effect, since nobody expected the AMT tax hike to go into effect anyway, and Grassley still wouldn't vote for the bill), while Spector demanded that the bill contain $10 billion for NIH and also cost less than $800 billion altogether. House democrats, having passed their version of the bill, became increasingly frustrated at seeing it weakened in order to appease a few stubborn senators, but were held together by Nancy Pelosi. In the end, the revised bill passed (with Teddy Kennedy too sick to make the final vote, Sherrod Brown had to fly back to Washington immediately after his mother's funeral to break the filibuster) and the president signed it at the Denver Museum of Science. Money began flowing shortly afterwards, and the economy (which contracted at a rate of 8.9% in the fourth quarter of 2008) began to recover. But the fight was just beginning.

Part 3 of the book covers the aftermath of the recovery act: how it worked, and how the American public responded. A huge amount of money was going out the door; the administration needed to ensure that it was going where it was supposed to be, as quickly as possible. Shortly after the stimulus passed, Biden wrote a memo outlining the need for someone to oversee the stimulus, someone who could avoid waste, watch out for missed deadlines, and bring anything Obama needed to see to the president's attention. Obama gave him the job, and Spiden spent much of the next two years ensuring that stimulus dollars did what they were supposed to do. Although I follow politics fairly closely, I hadn't fully appreciated how involved Biden was in making sure that everything went smoothly, and how important it was to have someone with his background in the administration. When inefficiencies popped up, Biden was on top of them - a senator who complained about a road that was due to be resurfaced with stimulus funds right before heavy trucks went over them carrying materials for another stimulus program admitted the next day that the schedule had been fixed to avoid the problem. The White House considered transparency and accountability to be key elements of the stimulus; one of the first things they did was set up recovery.gov, which was run by an independent third party (Earl Devaney, the former inspector general who broke the Abramoff lobbying scandal). The expectation from outside experts was that 5% of stimulus funds could be stolen; instead, fraud was practical nonexistent - about 0.001 percent. Current plans, in fact, are to apply the transparency efforts from the stimulus to the rest of the federal government. That was particularly impressive considering the speed at which things were moving; with plenty of pressure from Biden, the administration met every funding deadline in the stimulus.

Getting the economy kick-started immediately wasn't the only reason that money needed to go out right away. Congressional republicans had made it clear that if they took control of Congress in the 2010 midterms, any money that hadn't been spent yet wouldn't be. The stimulus was working - independent estimates showed it creating or saving millions of jobs. The American solar power industry, which was dying when Obama took office, was now booming; in fact, Solyndra, the highest profile failure from the loan guarantee program (which was, it should be noted, specifically designed to fund higher-risk projects with the expectation that some would fail) went out of business largely because the stimulus helped drive down the price of silicon, to the point where Solyndra's revolutionary technology was no longer cost-effective. The green energy sector as a whole had doubled in size, and the United States was actually becoming a net exporter of green technology.

But while the stimulus itself was working, Obama was losing the messaging war. The republican party was successfully driving the narrative, and they cast the stimulus as a big-government boondoggle. While it had no earmarks, the US public believed it was full of pork. While it was responsibile for millions of jobs (and most economists credited it for lowering the unemployment rate by several percentage points), hardly anyone believed that it had created any jobs. While it was the most transparent and accountable government program in history, it was sold as an example of the corruption and fraud surrounding the Obama administration. By the time the 2010 election rolled around, every republican running for Congress was running against the stimulus, and almost no democrats were publically in favor of it. If not for tea party challenges to more moderate Senate republicans, the democratic party would most likely have lost control of the Senate as well as the House, and the long-term projects of the stimulus - changes to health care IT, high speed rail, and other projects that would dramatically improve the productivity and quality of life of Americans - would have been defunded before they could finish.

While the entire book is about politics, the last section is the most political. The author is obviously enthusiastic about the possibilities of the programs funded by the stimulus, and is not impressed by the republican politicians who now oppose ideas they've long supported, solely because Obama also supports them. Indeed, the last few chapters are largely an argument that the 2012 election will determine the future of the country: either the democrats win and reforms that was already positioning America to be a world leader in the 21st century - alternative fuels, health IT (the area I work in, as it happens), mass transportation - continue to advance, or the republican party wins, overturns everything the stimulus put into place, and returns us to the policies of the Bush years. I didn't feel that the third section of the book was as strong as the first two, and republican readers who hated the stimulus will likely hate this part of the book as well, but it does make the case that the 2012 election will decide the future of the country.

Overall, I found the book to be quite readable; the writing flows easily, there's a disctinct lack of typos, and every so often the author throws in a funny zinger. Those who follow politics will be familiar with most of the events of the book - I found myself getting annoyed again as he recounted the republican obstructionism - but it's an interesting read. Grinwald interviewed a number of people, including the leadership in both parties (with the notable exception of the president himself) and also lists 449 references at the end of the book. While the book definitely isn't perfect - I felt that the author spent too much of the third section giving his own opinion rather than sticking with the facts - I recommend it for anyone who has an opinion on the stimulus or intends to vote this November.

Note: this review originally appeared at Vulcan Ears Book Reviews (vulcanears.com)
130 von 160 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b83c698) von 5 Sternen But despite these achievements, the stimulus was ultimately short of what America expected it to do! 14. August 2012
Von Didaskalex - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
"The New Deal's vast legacies are still with us, and so, too, are the questions it provoked. 'Was it a success or failure? The plot of a dictator? A paragon of progressive government or a harbinger of oppressive federal interference in American life?' Hiltzik asks." -- Richard Rayner, LA Times

In an absorbing account based on interviews with hundreds of sources on both sides of the debate, and newly revealed documents, Michael Grunwald, an award-winning reporter explores the least understood story behind President Obama's bill, comparing it with FDR's New Deal. The $800 billion, most controversial bill, is one of the most polarizing and least analyzed pieces of legislation in recent American history. Grunwald articulates a compelling study, based on serious investigative reporting, which shows how the 'American Recovery and Reinvestment Act', aka the stimulus, helped prevent a disastrous depression.

Officially, the $800 billion stimulus act was the largest economic recovery program in history. Adjusted for inflation, it is nearly five times the Works Progress Administration, and was bigger than the Marshall Plan. Economists and nonpartisan forecasting firms estimate that the stimulus created and saved more than 2 million jobs, short of the catastrophic job loss in 2008/9. It generated an unprecedented buzz around clean energy. Experts estimated the 'Stimulus' to amount to 3-4 times the one approved, extending on 2-3 five year plans, including the long neglected infra structure and utilities.

As ambitious and far-reaching as FDR's New Deal, the Stimulus is positively regarded by top economists as a down payment on the nation's economic recovery and environmental future. It launched a progressive transition to a clean-energy economy, investing in a grass roots green industry, a transformation into a smarter grid, advanced biofuels, and electric cars. Its Race to the Top is the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It is health care cost cutter by electronic revolution of our outdated medical system, providing the largest research funds ever, and the most extensive infrastructure investments since Icke's interstate highway system.

It provides biggest middle-class tax cuts in decades, includes the largest expansion of poverty eradication programs since LBJ Great Society, lifting millions of suffering Americans above the poverty line. It helps eleminating homelessness, and updating unemployment insurance provisions. Like FDR's New Deal, the American Recovery act has created legislation that lifts; the world's largest solar and wind mills projects, a renewed high-speed rail network, the world's fastest Internet network, and an ambitious car battery industry. Intended to jump-start Obam's agenda for a lasting boost, it was not enough, in some economists judgement.

And, despite these achievements, the stimulus was ultimately short of what America expected it provide. The balance between short and long term recovery components was not worked well, nor was it applied conscientiously. The part allocated to help stabilizing government employment could not be sustained after two years. A flood of education and health-care money could not stop the hemorrhage in state budgets. When the last dime is spent, more than 41,000 miles of roads will be widened and paved; 600,000 homes weather proofed; and 3,000 schools connected to high-speed Internet, but unemployment is still above 8%.
50 von 61 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b83cc74) von 5 Sternen There is a Much Better Book Out There 30. September 2012
Von Samuel J. Sharp - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is the second book I have read on the Recovery Act and in my opinion, "Money Well Spent?" by Michael Grabell is a much better account of the Recovery Act's origin, implementation, and effectiveness. Both authors ultimately agree that the stimulus was necessary and effective, but Grabell goes about his work seriously and with an admirably neutral perspective. Grunwald is snarky and hopelessly one-sided even as he proclaims on page 21 to be providing the "real story" of the stimulus. From the very start, Grunwald's book is a sunshine and roses account of the stimulus and President Obama's first term in office. The prominent theme of the book is that Obama's policies were undoubtedly correct, but his administration is not skillful enough at politics to make the public understand how thankful it should be. On page 19 Grunwald begins lamenting "the just-say-no extremism of the right, the unquenchable ingratitude of the left . . . the gotcha games of the media." This is very exhausting over 455 pages. Grundell is very much a cheerleader and particularly telling is his unwillingness to even let other Democrats criticize the President. For example, on page 417 Grunwald reports on his interview/debate with then Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in which Rendell challenges Obama's effectiveness and Grunwald quotes himself defending the President to Rendell while in Rendell's office. The thrust of Grunwald's reporting is that no one in America really understands the true merits of the stimulus except administration officials and Grunwald himself.

Grunwald conducted over 400 interviews and most of the quotations he uses have cites, but he gets a bit sloppy at times when he wants to make a dramatic point. For example, on page 421 he quotes John Boehner declaring "So be it" in response to "independent economists warn[ing] that the GOP plans for sharp short-term spending cuts would kill hundreds of thousands more jobs." Grunwald does not provide a cite to this quote, but in the full statement by Boehner he was responding to a question about the possibility of federal government jobs being cut, after 200,000 new government hires in the two years after the 2008 election. In essence, Grunwald left out all the details, including meaningful context and a citation to the full statement in order to portray Republicans as the enemies of private sector job creation. This is not good journalism and it is not fair to readers who do not have the time or energy to fact check Grunwald's assertions. Grunwald also has no citation for his claim on page 454 that the federal deficit "hasn't increased under Obama." That sounds good, but it ignores and downplays the very serious $5T in new debt added during Obama's first term. It is in these bizarre moments that Grunwald forfeits so much of his credibility that the value of his book is seriously diminished.

I recognize that this review will receive lots of negative votes because it is critical of a one-sided story, but I hope it was helpful in tempering readers' expectations of this book. Basically, your feelings about the President, love or hate, will largely mirror your feelings about this book. But, if you are in the political middle, I strongly suggest Grabell's "Money Well Spent?" instead because it puts its effort into reporting, not in forcing conclusions upon the reader.
43 von 53 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b83ce90) von 5 Sternen Facts are facts 23. August 2012
Von Brent - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Others here have already made reviews far more superior than I can. I just want people to leave their bias at the door while reading this book. There are people from both parties giving clear facts and economists back this book up. I wish the media and the people running our great Country could adopt these facts, instead of calling stimulus a failure. I knew it stopped a great depression, but I've learned that is just the tip of the iceberg of what was all being done and ignored by most everyone.
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