(CNSNews.com) - In a closed-door meeting with House Republicans on Tuesday to discuss the $819-billion economic stimulus bill, President Obama suggested that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal failed because it was too small, Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who attended the meeting, told CNSNews.com.
“FDR’s initial steps did actually work,” Obama said at the meeting, according to King. Obama went on to say, “Then he [FDR] pulled back towards a balanced budget, and then what you had was a recession within a depression. Then World War II came along and was the biggest stimulus plan ever.”
The White House did not respond to requests for verification of Obama’s comments, and several Republicans who were in the meeting said they either did not remember the remarks or would not discuss the details of the conversation in public.
King said he interpreted Obama’s comment as an indicator of Democrats’ mindset on stimulus spending.
“I take it this way,” King told CNSNews.com on Wednesday. “If FDR had not essentially lost his nerve and pulled back towards a balanced budget, he would have spent more money, the New Deal would have been a bigger deal, and it would have then brought us out of the Depression. That mindset tells us what’s driving this stimulus approach.”
Bishop was also critical of Obama’s remarks.
“It was his [Obama’s] revisionist view of history which is inaccurate,” said Bishop. “I have heard that history from other people, and I think it’s inaccurate.”
In an interview with CNSNews.com on Jan. 8, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) was asked about FDR’s spending in the Depression and the current economic stimulus proposals.
“Well, a lot of economists tell us that what President Roosevelt failed to do was to spend as much money as was needed to get people back to work and get the economy moving again,” said Waxman. “And it wasn’t until World War II, when we had major expenditures, that the Depression was finally resolved.” Watch Video
The $819 billion stimulus package passed in the House of Representatives Wednesday evening, on a vote of 244 to 188 – no Republicans voted in favor of the package.