“The New New Deal,” by Michael Grunwald. Simon & Schuster. 528 pages. $28.00.
Award-winning investigative reporter Michael Grunwald first came to the attention of many Floridians with his highly acclaimed “The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise” (2006). This highly acclaimed volume demonstrated Mr. Grunwald’s ability to organize what would seem to be an unwieldy amount of complex research into a vivid, coherent, and intellectually stimulating narrative. It has been a game-changer in the world of ideas. Even more so will be his new book about “The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era.” While convincingly countering prevailing notions of the Obama administration’s accomplishments, “The New New Deal” manages to be just plain fascinating reading.
In the face of his opponents’ drumbeat attacks belittling the outcome of Obama’s campaign message of hope and change, President Obama, as Mr. Grunwald tells it, has made good on a wide array of promises. A surprising measure of change has already occurred, much of it underneath the radar of the daily news cycle and public awareness. While it is astounding how many Obama initiatives have been stifled by Conservative Republican legislative blockades, it is equally astounding how much has been put into place. Underneath the hubbub and exchanges of insults, the game has changed.
Michael Grunwald frames his discussion of the early years of Obama’s presidency by analyzing several interrelated factors. First of all, the magnitude of the U. S. economic crisis was severely underestimated. Secondly, the Republicans were committed to regain control of the government at just about any cost. Thirdly, the Recovery Act and its underappreciated “Stimulus” projects, put into place while Obama governed with a legislative majority, have suffered enormous losses in the battle for respect from the general public. Yet they have halted a likely fall into a severe depression and initiated much of the forward-looking goals announced in the campaign agenda.
As Mr. Grunwald points out, there have been stumbles along the way. Some projects and investments failed to pay off. And certainly the selling of the Recovery and Stimulus package was far from effective, especially since the media has focused on high-profile failures. However, if one measures stated goals against what’s been put into place, the country has been undergoing a stealth revolution that holds great promise for the future if its legs are not amputated in the coming election cycle.
In clean energy, there have already been significant strides with many government-aided private ventures taking hold – and creating new jobs in the process. The renovation of the fragile energy grid is underway, along with other energy supply enhancements. Important reforms in education – reforms to prepare the United States for a healthy position in the competitive world marketplace for ideas and products – are underway. The push for building a network of electronic medical information is already improving medical care while introducing cost-saving. time-saving, and error-avoiding benefits. . . .
To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the September 6, 2012 issue of the Naples Florida Weekly, the September 12 Fort Myers edition,and the September 13 Spacecoast edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Michael Grunwald