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The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  814 ratings  ·  103 reviews
The New, New Deal is a riveting story about change in the Obama era—and an essential handbook for voters who want the truth about the president, his record, and his enemies.

In a riveting account based on new documents and interviews with more than 400 sources on both sides of the aisle, award-winning reporter Michael Grunwald reveals the vivid story behind President Obama’
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Simon Schuster
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Will Byrnes
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I’m pretty tired of this depression we’ve been having. Unemployment that hit 12% in 2009 and kept rising, states from ocean to ocean laying off tens, hundreds of thousands of public employees each. No more auto industry, and vast swaths of the Midwest losing jobs and industrial capacity faster than Mitt Romney changes policy positions. And things have not been looking up either. The federal government is investing nothing in alternate energy R&D, leaving such things to private enterprise, and do ...more
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
If you hate Obama, this book won't do you any good.

If you hate government, this book won't do you any good.

If you think Obama has been a disappointment, you should read this book. It won't make him NOT a disappointment, but it will provide you with context and help you to see what he has done so you can be more aware of what he hasn't done.

If you work in the media, you must read this book. There's an old joke that the dullest headline imaginable is "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative." Well, this b
Zack Ward
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Zack by: Internet
It is unfortunate that The New New Deal is perhaps the only book on the market that offers a positive review of Obama's Recovery Act. It would make this book seem less biased if the narrative that preceded it hadn't been so negative.

Anyway, my impressions were positive overall. Grunwald goes to great lengths to explore the debate from both sides of the political aisle starting just a little before Obama's election in 2008 and ending in March of 2012. He sat in several meetings on Capital Hill wi
Robert Owen
Aug 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Michael Grunwald's “The New New Deal” belongs filed on the “Barack Obama: The Man, The Myth, The Legend” shelf. Look, I’m gonna say good things about this book and I’m gonna say bad things about this book, then I’ll give it three stars and leave it up to you to figure out just what the hell those stars mean.

Let me start with the good stuff first:

Grunwald does an excellent job of taking the reader behind the scenes of the Obama Administration’s remarkably competent response to the 2008 financial
Aaron Arnold
This is probably the best book I've ever read about a single bill. Grunwald does a magnificent job recounting the genesis, drafting, passage, and effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus, an act so vast that not even its supporters fully appreciate the range and depth of its impact. The economics that prompted the bill's passage remain controversial in the political world, as do its contents, but Grunwald's evenhanded and fairly comprehensive reporting wo ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
So if you live in Philly--and I think most people who follow me do--you've probably noticed that the old trash cans have been largely replaced with solar-powered trash compactors. Apparently it has cut the frequency of trash collection by more than a third, saving the city a substantial amount of money. They're now so commonplace as to be basically invisible, like Greenpeace canvassers or the homeless, and they're one of the many unheralded achievements of the stimulus bill. Another is Race To T ...more
Kevin Kazokas
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Michael Grunwald brings a deeply reported look at one of President Obama's landmark and mostly forgotten legislative pieces in "The New New Deal."

Before the Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as Obamacare) and several executive orders directed at monumental reform, the nation's first black president had to deal with a much more urgent matter -- the crashing economy. Things were spiraling so quickly, not even unprecedented stopgap economic measures by the exiting Bush administration could
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“Without cocaine monkeys, there's no tax cuts and no roads.”

Lone anecdotes cannot begin to explain how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act became law in 2009, but coked up primates comes as close as any.

But let’s back up.

If you reside in a state of existence where you do not believe in facts, this is not the book for you. The New New Deal is hilariously, painstakingly nuanced, and Mike Grunwald goes to great lengths to lay it all out. Why the economy was unraveling. What Obama’s economic
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book showed massive evidence that the money from the bail out which our last election GOP commercials claimed were "wasted" on programs actually were NOT wasted. It is a tough read, tons and tons of testimony and reports and other means from a journalist who tried really hard to sort through the political muck and get to the truth.

This book helped shed light on how much the GOP was fibbing in their review of the Obama administration. As an registered Independent I had to go to this length
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book a lot, which was surprising to me given how information dense it was. The author did a really good job of mixing in stories around the events from the people making decisions with the facts that he was writing about.

I also learned a lot about the stimulus (and TARP, which like most people I managed to attribute to Obama instead of Bush) and how it managed (will manage?) to fundamentally shift a lot of important things for this country.
Luca Lia
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Since it looks like we’re on the cusp of another major stimulus bill, it seemed like a good time to revisit Obama’s 2009 stimulus, the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This book does a great job at explaining the politics and policies of the Recovery Act, and at showing how it made a tangible difference on a host of issues, particularly climate.

Beware, though, for while the policies of the Recovery Act are largely a feel-good story, the politics of it will set your teeth on edge. The moral corrupt
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Michael Grunwald has written an impressive defense of the Recovery Act (i.e., "the stimulus"), which is so frequently lambasted from both Right and Left.

"It was the biggest and most transformative energy bill in U.S. history, financing unprecedented government investments in a smarter grid; cleaner coal; energy efficiency in every imaginable form; "green-collar" job training; electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them; advanced biofuels and the refineries to brew them; renewable p
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Michael Grunwald is a young journalist with Time magazine. The New New Deal is a justification of the Obama Administrations 787 billion dollar stimulus. This is a book of factual presentation of the politics behind the Stimulus amd the implementation and the various technologies the stimulus has helped to underwrite. Some of the energy technologies were new to me. The stories about High Speed (Bullet) train development in the US are something I was not aware of, other than our own high speed tra ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Who would've guessed that a book about the much-maligned "stimulus plan" of 2009 would be not only a compelling and witty read but also the best book-length defense of Obama's first-term accomplishments I've read? It certainly surprised me. I did pick up the book expecting that Grunwald would be fundamentally sympathetic to the cause and to Keynesian policies in general, though he proves more than willing to call out Obama and his advisors for their naivete, their missteps, and their utter failu ...more
Lars K Jensen
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us, obama, economy
Do you know those books that just make you feel constrained by Goodreads' 1-5 scale? Well, for me this is one of them.

Grunwald has gone where apparently no other (or, at least only a very few) have gone: Actually explaining what was in Barack Obama's Recovery Act (signed by POTUS in February, 2009) and what it has done to the US labor market, economy and research.

In 'The New New Deal' Grunwald both tells the story of the how the act came to be and how it passed through Congress, despite heavy op
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book knocked my socks off. Grunwald has the knack of making complex and somewhat dry details of law-writing, economic theory, and political maneuvering both lucid and fascinating. He slips into a slightly snarky tone at points, and it's clear where his political sympathies lie, but I did not find that he misrepresents facts or skews the logic of his argument to suggest an untruthful explanation. And he has the research and sources to back his writing. Being somewhat of an ostrich about curr ...more
Michael Berman
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-events
The short version: Obama won the policy battle (the Recovery act provided both short-term stimulus and allowed Obama to implement many of the objectives on which he campaigned) but lost the politics war (how many times will the word "stimulus" be mentioned at the DNC this week?).

The author is a bit breathless on the topic of the green initiatives in particular, but he makes the case on the short-term stimulus quite well. No less a center-right authority than The Economist reviewed this favorabl
Steve Rutkowski
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
When policy is attacked along partisan lines, using divisive language, rarely so the people remember anything else. This was an amazing insider view of the divided politics of what was signed into law during our biggest economic catastrophe this century, and a look deep inside our increasingly divisive political reality.
Phelan O'Neill
Apr 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fantastic look at President Obama's Stimulus package and its impacts on a variety of industries ranging from health care to clean energy. Grunwald takes advantage of copious notes provided by people who were a part of passing and implementing the law to provide a clear picture of what went into the designing and implementing of the bill. ...more
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The notion that President Obama wasn’t “focused” enough on jobs and the economy is an absurdity. Setting aside the dubious criticism that the President was so “distracted” by health reform that he ignored the economy—as if it were impossible for a president to walk and chew gum at the same time—the fact is, Obama did focus on recovery. Constantly. To wit, within four weeks of taking office, Congress passed, and the President signed, a massive $800 billion economic and jobs package—one which, mea ...more
Raja Ramesh
Aug 04, 2019 rated it liked it
President Obama's election in 2008 is one of the first political events I can clearly remember. Yet, as someone interested in US energy policy and politics in general, I knew shockingly little about the 2009 stimulus bill, which was the last major energy act passed by Congress (RIP Waxman-Markey), digitized healthcare, and was arguably quite successful in averting the worst of the the "Great Recession". It also created the Tea Party.

This book filled that gap in for me and introduced me to many o
Sagar Jethani
Apr 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
A clear, if meticulous, look at the sausage making that went into Obama's least-appreciate piece of legislation. Grunwald paints a convincing picture of how the American people failed to recognize how the Recovery Act not only prevented an economic collapse of Depression magnitude, but how Obama used the Act to kickstart many of his signature priorities including education reform, high-speed rail, alternative energy, and more.

What surprised me about this book was its detailed account of how Repu
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The best part of this book is the last third. What I was most interested in was reading about what changed. I wanted to know about programs that weren’t talked about and how the economy changed for the better. I was less interested in the story of partisan warfare. That story has been told too many times. What is most interesting is how cars got better and solar got cheaper. I really wanted more about the changes and less about the challenges to enacting change.
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Probably one of the better three-star books I've read. I dropped it from four-stars to three because of an unforgivable stretch of something like 50 pages with arcane and technical details of the Recovery Act's green energy successes. I'm all for green energy, but it felt like this wasteland of technobabble just threw the brakes on what was up to that point a very enjoyable read. I never really recovered after that.

But to be fair, Grunwald is clear and persuasive with his thesis: the Recovery Ac
One of the definitions I have for a great book, psrticularly a non-fiction or current affairs book like this, is that it pierces through the haze of my own preconceived notions and reveals something in a new, startling, and unbiased way. This book is definitely one of those books. Mr. Grunwald has written a book that will rewrite the narrative on the Recovery Act, Pres. Obama's $800 billion stimulus that was passed in his first 100 days in office. While partisans on both sides of the political d ...more
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought I had a good grasp of the Stimulus Package the Obama Administration put together in 2008/9 but after reading this book - I am shocked at the amount of information - TRUE information - I was missing. I think my biggest take-aways from this book are as follows:

1) the media did an incredibly poor job of reporting THE FACTS about the Recovery Act. The majority of the media outlets - regardless of political affiliation (which they shouldn't have) - only showcased rumors and misdirections fr
Robert Muller
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
It's kind of like the Obama administration. You really want to like it, but the more you learn, the more you realize it just doesn't get there. The main thesis of the book is that the Obama administration is underrated and that the stimulus act in the first term is actually a glorious new deal for sustainable energy and infrastructure. The trouble is, the facts are not on his side, so the author simply ignores them. Before reading this book, read The Escape Artists by Noam Schieber and Predator ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
In many ways a perfect example of something that would have worked better as maybe two or three articles or Kindle singles than it does as a book. The beginning part discussing the behind-the-scenes creation of the stimulus is probably the most interesting and previously unreported part of the book.

But hearing how Jason Furman and others put together the package is only about 50 to 60 pages. And unfortunately, a lot of the rest suffers. The part on political wrangling on the Hill doesn't feel l
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us, obama, economy
Do you know those books that just make you feel constrained by Goodreads' 1-5 scale? Well, for me this is one of them.

Grunwald has gone where apparently no other (or, at least only a very few) have gone: Actually explaining what was in Barack Obama's Recovery Act (signed by POTUS in February, 2009) and what it has done to the US labor market, economy and research.

In 'The New New Deal' Grunwald both tells the story of the how the act came to be and how it passed through Congress, despite heavy op
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Election-cycle literature tends to be either hyperbolic (To Save America) or overly simplistic (It’s The Middle Class, Stupid!), or, if you’re Sean Hannity, both. Therefore, this 500-page piece of even-handed, thoroughly researched, energetically relayed investigative journalism is a breath of fresh air. Unlike so many political writers, Grunwald doesn’t begin at his conclusion and then argue towards it—he spends months and months taking in every meeting, poring over every record, learning the O ...more
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