Monday, September 28, 2020

NHC Briefing: Federal Responses to Economic Crisis

[We have the following announcement.  DRE]

The National History Center of the American Historical Association invites you to attend our briefing, Federal Responses to Economic Crisis, Monday, October 5, 2020, 11:00 am EST.  Register here.

The Coronavirus pandemic has killed vast numbers of people across the world, transformed the work and home lives of many millions, and has sent many of the world's economies into a tailspin. Indeed, the economic damage produced by the pandemic promises to challenge Americans and others abroad for years to come.

How should the federal government respond to the ongoing challenges generated by this crisis? This is a question that American citizens and their elected representatives have been debating passionately and loudly this year. Despite some fleeting moments of agreement on public policy responses over the past months, the question produces no single answer. Should the federal government continue to aid the victims, both businesses and individuals, harmed by the pandemic? What larger role should the government play in the economy going forward? Not surprisingly, Congress, our political parties, and Americans across the nation find themselves in disagreement about the path forward that the federal government should pursue.

This Congressional Briefing of the American Historical Association's National History Center steps back from the current moment to explore the history of the federal government's role in handling economic downturns and crises at various points in the twentieth century. Its subjects are the federal government's response to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the economic downturns (admittedly far less severe than the Great Depression) in the 1950s, and the urban crisis of the 1960s -- all moments when presidents and Congress debated and implemented a variety of programs designed to address economic distress. As always, our approach is nonpartisan and is not aimed at answering the question about the future. Rather, it is to show that the arguments about policy during our present crisis have counterparts in the past. As the American Historical Association frequently notes, everything has a history. This Congressional Briefing of the National History Center steps back from our current moment to explore the history of federal responses to economic crises at key moments in the last century.

Eric Rauchway, University of California, Davis
Jennifer Delton, Skidmore College
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University

Eric Arnesen, George Washington University