The uncanny parallels between Donald Trump and FDR

Like Trump, FDR had little respect for the separation of powers. When he tried to pass a 99.5 percent marginal tax rate on income above $100,000, Congress rebuffed him. So he issued an executive order mandating a 100 percent marginal tax rate, and lowered the ceiling to incomes of $25,000 per year (which Congress later rescinded). His attempt to do a similar end-run around the Supreme Court, the court-packing scheme, is infamous.

Paul Warburg, one of FDR’s first-term advisors, claimed, “I believe that Mr. Roosevelt is so charmed with the fun of brandishing the band leader’s baton at the head of the parade, so pleased with the picture he sees of himself, that he is no longer capable of recognizing that the human power to lead is limited.” FDR saw himself as a benevolent dictator, and his actions reflect that grandiosity. Trump has made a campaign of this same sort of grandiosity.

It’s true that FDR didn’t take total power in the United States, and that U.S. institutions prevented him from doing so. The Supreme Court struck down his ideas, especially before 1937. When he tried to pack the court with allies, the public rallied against him. Congress also refused to pass certain laws on his agenda…

In fact, a Trump presidency could be even more dangerous, because the powers of the presidency have expanded.