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The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era Hardcover – August 14, 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
About the Author
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.
Top customer reviews
The book is definitely a work of non-fiction history that describes not only how the stimulus came to be but the detailed way in which Obama's team governs. You get a great sense that these are immensely practical people, fastidious to a fault; they often think that logical, sound governance would win out on merit regardless of political grandstanding by the Republicans. As this miscalculation unfolds (unfortunately repeated again with Obamacare), you start to see the divergence between the stiumlus' benefits and the public's perception. Grunwald did an exceptional job of explaining this.
I think Grunwald also wisely interlaced many personal accounts and quotes throughout the text that will keep you engaged. Insights into the details of the legislation - particularly the transformative investments into renewable energy - lifted my American spirits. That brief levity crashed as I read about the vindictive and detailed partisan politics on display throughout the book. Particularly enraging to me was the brief mention by Grunwald that Obama had the votes for a massive infrastructure buildout but the Dems and Reps' ships passed in the night. So is the reality of seeing the sausage maker splayed open like this.
But I don't think you can open this book and expect a completely neutral POV - and Grunwald has his. He sticks to the facts well but there is a subtle and clear bias towards the center-left, technocratic way in which Obama runs his administration. And I totally get his position; the media did such a poor job of actually covering what this legislation did for America that Grunwald is effectively forced to defend what the Obama team did as if he is some heretic. It's unfortunate that the public was so poorly informed that this book has to be more of a political statement than historical account, just to correct the record - but that is the way it reads. And so goes a star in the rating for mixing history and politics like this, even though realistically, there is no way around it - especially with this being written so close to an election.
I'd recommend this book to almost all audiences: it is an approachable, well-written history that doesn't crush the reader with verbose passages, but it is dense with inside baseball politics and extreme policy detail. If you are a die-hard conservative, the positions in here will seem maddening - and grossly out of step with what the media has told you. If you tilt left and love technocracy, this book might as well be your wet dream. Either way, it is probably the most accurate account we'll ever have of the stimulus - and for that reason you should read it.
Although Grunwald undoubtedly leans to the left, a careful examination of the current political climate probably reveals that he just leans towards reality - something Democrats have done a much better job living in than Republicans. Even with this being said, Grunwald is very much a critical supporter of the Obama administration, pointing out flaws in messaging, assumptions in politics, and the punting of key pieces of legislature down the road. In all, Grunwald attempts to be unbiased and bipartisan, but maintaining balance in politics when one side has veered off towards crazytown is a trying endeavor.
The New New Deal follows the stimulus from its roots prior to the Obama presidency to its beginnings in political gamesmanship to its ultimate influence on the economy and infrastructure in the United States. The book is guaranteed to be filled with notes on the stimulus of which most people aren't aware, which only drives home the point that Democrats did a poor job selling it and explaining it. Instead, Republicans were able to twist facts, lie outright and obscure the general public's view in an attempt to obstruct Obama's attempts at helping the country along towards a greater recovery.
Despite the negative perceptions of the stimulus, it pulled America out of the Great Recession (preventing another depression), helped states right their finances, put people to work with shovel-ready jobs and extended benefits to the poor and unemployed - all while laying the foundation for a clean tech industry, providing solar and wind power, and greater biofuels. Investments in education and transportation have begun to transform key pillars of society, while a heavy investment in energy research and development (such as ARPA-E) is leading towards cleaner, renewable energy, at lower costs, built on United States soil.
Grunwald touches on every aspect of the recovery effort, including failures. Solyndra rears its ugly head, but it's noted inside the context of the greater energy investment in America. Failures were expected on cutting edge programs, and the stimulus accounted for this in its financing. Many other clean energy ventures have moved forward into profitability. In fact, the stimulus single-handedly rescued the industry from the brink. Grunwald also makes us witness the sad story of the high speed rail, as Republicans in states killed stimulus-funded railway initiatives like the Orlando-Tampa high speed line - even when the program was 100% funded and was virtually guaranteed to be a driving force in local commerce. We even get to hear about the political savvy and enthusiasm of Vice-President Joe Biden - the sheriff of the stimulus.
Obama essentially used the stimulus package to fulfill most of his campaign promises while jump-starting the economy and preventing greater pain; however, Republican obstructionism (with better messaging) not only prevented a more substantial recovery, but also twisted public perception of the greater change that has been occurring because of the stimulus. In fact, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act might just be the greatest piece of legislature in modern political history. It's just a shame no one is talking about it.
It is a noble effort, and provides much needed information on the legislation. The questions must be asked, Why hadn't the Administration itself plugged its own legislation to the public? That answer is unknown; if it had perhaps there would not have been so much opposition to the Stimulus. The book should and must be read.