Under fire from Republicans for a promise he won't be keeping about cutting the deficit, President Obama might consider emulating Franklin D. Roosevelt, who found himself in a very similar bind eight decades ago. In October 1932, Roosevelt told a crowd in Pittsburgh that he would balance the budget and cut government spending by 25 percent in his first term. But when he got in office, the only way to combat the Depression was to increase spending.
It was the right course for governing. But it presented Roosevelt with a real political challenge when he was running for a second term and returning to Pennsylvania. He asked speechwriter Sam Rosenman how to handle questions about the broken promise.