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It did not entirely lift until the next world war, more than twenty years later. Prosperity seemed perpetually to pass them by. Virtually none of them enjoyed such common amenities of urban life as electricity and indoor plumbing. As the decade of the twenties reached its operatic climax, other maladies began to appear, faintly at first, but with mounting urgency as the Depression began to unfold. As for government—public spending at all levels, including towns, cities, counties, states, and the federal government itself, amounted only to about 15 percent of GDP in the s, one-fifth of which was federal expenditures.

Ideology aside, its very size made the federal government in the s a kind of ninety-pound weakling in the fight against the looming depression monster. In the fateful autumn of , the bubble burst. The Great Crash in October sent stock prices plummeting. Banks failed by the thousands. Businesses collapsed by the tens of thousands. Herbert Hoover, elected just months earlier amid lavish testimonials to his peerless competence, integrity, and can-do talents, saw his presidency shattered and his reputation forever shredded because of his inability to tame the depression demon—though, again contrary to legend, he toiled valiantly, using what tools he had and even inventing some new ones, to get the upper hand.

By , some thirteen million Americans were out of work, one out of every four able and willing workers in the country. Even those horrendous numbers could not begin to take the full measure of the human misery that unemployment entailed. Given the demography of the labor force and prevailing cultural norms that kept most women, and almost all married women, out of the wage-paying economy, a 25 percent unemployment rate meant that, for all practical purposes, every fourth household in America had no breadwinner, no income, no hope.

Many Americans believed they were witnessing not just a massive market downturn, but the collapse of a historic economic, political, and social order, perhaps even the end of the American way of life. Yet curiously, as many observers noted, most Americans remained inexplicably docile, even passive, in the face of this unprecedented calamity.

Among those who were perplexed by the apparent submissiveness of the American people as the Depression descended was Franklin D. Repeatedly he spoke of this, saying that it was enormously puzzling to him that the ordeal of the past three years had been endured so peaceably. Understanding that elusive but essential American cultural characteristic goes a long way toward explaining the challenges that faced any leader seeking to broaden the powers of government to come to grips with the Depression.

FDR was destined to hold office for more than a dozen years. He was thrice re-elected, a record matched by no previous incumbent and forbidden to all future presidents by the passage of the Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution in FDR was then and has remained ever since a surpassingly enigmatic figure. His personality perplexed his contemporaries and has challenged his biographers for more than half a century. It is appropriate to call it a vision: that American life could be made more secure.

Roosevelt, like Hoover before him, never did find a remedy for the Great Depression.


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The bill passed in with some Republican support to abolish slums. When the Supreme Court started abolishing New Deal programs as unconstitutional, Roosevelt launched a surprise counter-attack in early He proposed adding five new justices, but conservative Democrats revolted, led by the Vice President. The Judiciary Reorganization Bill of failed—it never reached a vote. Momentum in Congress and public opinion shifted to the right and very little new legislation was passed expanding the New Deal. However, retirements allowed Roosevelt to put supporters on the Court and it stopped killing New Deal programs.

The Roosevelt administration was under assault during Roosevelt's second term, which presided over a new dip in the Great Depression in the fall of that continued through most of Production and profits declined sharply. Unemployment jumped from The downturn was perhaps due to nothing more than the familiar rhythms of the business cycle, but until Roosevelt had claimed responsibility for the excellent economic performance.

That backfired in the recession and the heated political atmosphere of Keynes did not think that The New Deal under Roosevelt ended the Great Depression: "It is, it seems, politically impossible for a capitalistic democracy to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to make the grand experiments which would prove my case — except in war conditions.

Under the special circumstances of war mobilization, massive war spending doubled the gross national product GNP. Instead of competitive bidding to get lower prices, the government gave out contracts that promised to pay all the expenses plus a modest profit.


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Factories hired everyone they could find regardless of their lack of skills—they simplified work tasks and trained the workers, with the federal government paying all the costs. Millions of farmers left marginal operations, students quit school and housewives joined the labor force.

The emphasis was for war supplies as soon as possible, regardless of cost and inefficiencies. Industry quickly absorbed the slack in the labor force and the tables turned such that employers needed to actively and aggressively recruit workers. Propaganda campaigns started pleading for people to work in the war factories.

Roosevelt's New Deal and the Great Depression Essay

The barriers for married women, the old, the unskilled—and in the North and West the barriers for racial minorities—were lowered. Between and , federal expenditures tripled, but the national debt as a percent of GNP showed little change. Spending on the war effort quickly eclipsed spending on New Deal programs. These controls shared broad support among labor and business, resulting in cooperation between the two groups and the U. This cooperation resulted in the government subsidizing business and labor through both direct and indirect methods.

Conservative domination of Congress during the war meant that all welfare projects and reforms had to have their approval, which was given when business supported the project. For example, the Coal Mines Inspection and Investigation Act of significantly reduced fatality rates in the coal-mining industry, saving workers' lives and company money. However, conservatives proposed benefits based on national service—especially tied to military service or working in war industries—and their approach won out.

Franklin D. Roosevelt 's President Of The United States

The Community Facilities Act of the Lanham Act provided federal funds to defense-impacted communities where the population had soared and local facilities were overwhelmed. It provided money for the building of housing for war workers as well as recreational facilities, water and sanitation plants, hospitals, day care centers and schools. The Servicemen's Dependents Allowance Act of provided family allowances for dependents of enlisted men.

Emergency grants to states were authorized in for programs for day care for children of working mothers.

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In , pensions were authorized for all physically or mentally helpless children of deceased veterans regardless of the age of the child at the date the claim was filed or at the time of the veteran's death, provided the child was disabled at the age of sixteen and that the disability continued to the date of the claim. The Public Health Service Act, which was passed that same year, expanded federal-state public health programs and increased the annual amount for grants for public health services.

The Emergency Maternity and Infant Care Program EMIC , introduced in March by the Children's Bureau , provided free maternity care and medical treatment during an infant's first year for the wives and children of military personnel in the four lowest enlisted pay grades. One out of seven births was covered during its operation. A striking effect was the sudden rapid decline in home births as most mothers now had paid hospital maternity care. Under the Disabled Veterans Rehabilitation Act, vocational rehabilitation services were offered to wounded World War II veterans and some , veterans would go on to receive assistance under this program.

In response to the March on Washington Movement led by A. Philip Randolph, Roosevelt promulgated Executive Order in June , which established the President's Committee on Fair Employment Practices FEPC "to receive and investigate complaints of discrimination" so that "there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin". A major result of the full employment at high wages was a sharp, long lasting decrease in the level of income inequality Great Compression.

The gap between rich and poor narrowed dramatically in the area of nutrition because food rationing and price controls provided a reasonably priced diet to everyone. White collar workers did not typically receive overtime and therefore the gap between white collar and blue collar income narrowed.

Did New Deal Programs Help End the Great Depression?

Large families that had been poor during the s had four or more wage earners and these families shot to the top one-third income bracket. As noted by William H. Chafe, "with full employment, higher wages and social welfare benefits provided under government regulations, American workers experienced a level of well-being that, for many, had never occurred before".

Individual savings accounts climbed almost sevenfold during the course of the war. Analysts agree the New Deal produced a new political coalition that sustained the Democratic Party as the majority party in national politics into the s. The estimated persistence of this shift suggests that New Deal spending increased long-term Democratic support by 2 to 2. Thus, it appears that Roosevelt's early, decisive actions created long-lasting positive benefits for the Democratic party The New Deal did play an important role in consolidating Democratic gains for at least two decades".

However, there is disagreement about whether it marked a permanent change in values. Cowie and Salvatore in argued that it was a response to Depression and did not mark a commitment to a welfare state because the U. She says they overemphasized individualism and ignored the enormous power that big capital wields, the Constitutional restraints on radicalism and the role of racism, antifeminism and homophobia. She warns that accepting Cowie and Salvatore's argument that conservatism's ascendancy is inevitable would dismay and discourage activists on the left.

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Historians generally agree that during Roosevelt's 12 years in office there was a dramatic increase in the power of the federal government as a whole. Roosevelt created a large array of agencies protecting various groups of citizens—workers, farmers and others—who suffered from the crisis and thus enabled them to challenge the powers of the corporations. In this way, the Roosevelt administration generated a set of political ideas—known as New Deal liberalism—that remained a source of inspiration and controversy for decades. New Deal liberalism lay the foundation of a new consensus.

Between and , there was the liberal consensus about the prospects for the widespread distribution of prosperity within an expanding capitalist economy. Truman 's Fair Deal and in the s Lyndon B. Johnson 's Great Society used the New Deal as inspiration for a dramatic expansion of liberal programs.

The New Deal's enduring appeal on voters fostered its acceptance by moderate and liberal Republicans.


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Eisenhower — built on the New Deal in a manner that embodied his thoughts on efficiency and cost-effectiveness. He sanctioned a major expansion of Social Security by a self-financed program. Should any party attempt to abolish social security and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.

There is a tiny splinter group of course, that believes you can do these things [ In , Barry Goldwater , an unreconstructed anti-New Dealer, was the Republican presidential candidate on a platform that attacked the New Deal. The Democrats under Lyndon B. However, the supporters of Goldwater formed the New Right which helped to bring Ronald Reagan into the White House in the presidential election.

Once an ardent supporter of the New Deal, Reagan turned against it, now viewing government as the problem rather than solution and, as president, moved the nation away from the New Deal model of government activism, shifting greater emphasis to the private sector. A review study of the existing literature in the Journal of Economic Literature summarized the findings of the research as follows: []. The studies find that public works and relief spending had state income multipliers of around one, increased consumption activity, attracted internal migration, reduced crime rates, and lowered several types of mortality.

The farm programs typically aided large farm owners but eliminated opportunities for share croppers, tenants, and farm workers. The Home Owners' Loan Corporation's purchases and refinancing of troubled mortgages staved off drops in housing prices and home ownership rates at relatively low ex post cost to taxpayers. The Reconstruction Finance Corporation's loans to banks and railroads appear to have had little positive impact, although the banks were aided when the RFC took ownership stakes.