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The New Deal Essay, Research Paper

During the 1930’s, America witnessed a breakdown of the Democratic and free enterprise system as the

United States fell into the worst Depression in history. The effects of the depression were being felt

everywhere in the United States. In 1933, sixteen million people were unemployed. Americans wanted and

needed a change. They proved this by electing Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. This was the beginning of a

new period in time for Americans, as Roosevelt would introduce his course of action with the New Deal.

Would Roosevelt?s New Deal be what Americans needed to counteract the effects of the depression? In

Roosevelt?s first inaugural address he declared, ??In the event that Congress hall fail to take these courses

and in the event that the national emergency is still critical I shall not evade the clear course or duty that will

then confront me.? Roosevelt?s course of action came to be known as the New Deal. The New Deal

describes the innovative measures that President Roosevelt took to try to restore the American economy,

give Americans pride again, and have faith in the government. The New Deal started in 1933 and lasted until

1938. The New Deal was based on relief, recovery, and reform. The New Deal included federal action of

unprecedented scope to stimulate industrial recovery, assist victims of the Depression, guarantee minimum

living standards, and prevent future economic crises. Many economic, political, and social factors lead up to

the implementation of the New Deal. In the first two years, the New Deal was concerned mainly with relief,

setting up shelters and soup kitchens to feed the millions of unemployed. On March 6, 1933 Roosevelt

called a nationwide bank holiday, and on March 9 Congress passed the Emergency Banking Act, which

provided for federal bank inspections. In the summer of 1933, the Glass-Steagall Act set much more

stringent rules for banks and provided insurance for depositors through the newly formed Federal Deposit

Insurance Corporation (FDIC). These acts helped to restore the confidence in the wake of widespread bank

failures. Two acts, one in 1933 and one in 1934, required detailed regulations for the securities market,

enforced by the new Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Several bills provided mortgage relief for

farmers and homeowners and offered loan guarantees for home purchasers through the Federal Housing

Administration, or FHA. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration expanded existing relief grants to the

states and resulted in assistance for more than 20 million people. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

provided work relief for thousands of young men under a type of military discipline. The CCC emphasized

reforestation, among other projects. Congress established the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to develop

the Tennessee River in the interest of navigation and flood control and to provide electric power to a wide

area of the southeastern United States. The most important legislation of 1933 involved the major economic

sectors. As a climax to a decade of wrangling, Congress in 1933 enacted a complex new farm bill, the

Agricultural Adjustment Act. It provided several mechanisms to help raise agricultural prices, but the one

most extensively used provided for government payments to farmers who destroyed or did not grow surplus

crops. At a time when economic hardship was leaving people in other areas in need of food, the act invited

criticism. The Agricultural Adjustment Act was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the

United States in 1936. As time progressed, the focus shifted towards recovery. In order to accomplish this

monumental task, several agencies were created. The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was the

keystone of the early New Deal program launched by Roosevelt. It was created in June 1933 under the

terms of the National Industrial Recovery Act. The National Recovery Administration (NRA) approved and

enforced a set of competitive codes for each industry to help ensure fair competition in each. This act, with

presidential approval, regulated prices, wages, working conditions, and credit terms. Businesses that

complied with the codes were exempted from antitrust laws, and workers were given the right to organize

unions and bargain collectively. After that, the government set up long-range goals, which included

permanent recovery, and a reform of current abuses. The NRA gave the President power to regulate

interstate commerce. This power was originally given to Congress. While the NRA was effective, it was

bringing America closer to socialism by giving the President unconstitutional powers. In May 1935 the US

Supreme Court unanimously declared the NRA unconstitutional on the grounds that the code-drafting

process was unconstitutional. Another New Deal measure under Title II of the National Industrial Recovery

Act of June 1933, the Public Works Administration (PWA) was designed to stimulate US industrial recovery

by pumping federal funds into large-scale construction projects. The head of the PWA exercised extreme

caution in allocating funds, and this did not stimulate the rapid revival of US industry that New Dealers had

hoped for. The PWA spent $6 billion enabling building contractors to employ approximately 650,000 workers

who might otherwise have been jobless. The PWA built everything from schools and libraries to roads and

highways. The agency also financed the construction of cruisers, aircraft carriers, and destroyers for the

navy. Beginning in 1935, Roosevelt took new measures and started another flood of legislation. The New

Deal program founded the Works Projects Administration in 1935 replacing the Federal Emergency Relief

Administration, which had dispensed money to states in an effort of relief. It was the most important New

Deal work-relief agency. The WPA developed relief programs to preserve people?s skills and self-respect by

providing useful work during a period of massive unemployment. From 1935 to 1943 the WPA provided

approximately nine million people with jobs at a cost of more than $11 billion. It had also provided

approximately four million students. This funded the construction of thousands of public buildings and

facilities. In addition, the WPA sponsored the Federal Theatre Project, Federal Art Project, and Federal

Writers’ Project providing work for people in the arts. Perhaps of greatest enduring significance, Congress in

1935 enacted the Social Security Act, which contained three major programs- a retirement fund,

unemployment insurance, and welfare grants for local distribution, including aid for dependent children.

These programs, coupled with a new subsidized public housing program, began what some now refer to as

a welfare state. Other new measures implemented focused on strict regulations for private utilities,

subsidies for rural electrification, and what amounted to a bill of rights for organized labor. The National

Labor Relations Act of 1935 gave federal protection to the bargaining process for workers and established a

set of fair employment standards. The National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act for its

sponsor, Robert Wagner, guaranteed workers the right to organize and bargain through unions. The federal

Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the last major domestic program launched by the Roosevelt

administration, mandated maximum hours and minimum wages for most categories of workers. The law was

intended to prevent competitive wage cutting by employers during the Depression. After the law was

passed, wages began to rise as the economy turned to war production. Wages and prices continued to rise,

and the original minimum wage ceased to be relevant. However, this new law still excluded millions of

working people, as did social security. However, a severe recession led many people to turn against New

Deal policies. In addition, World War II erupted in September 1939. Causing an enormous growth in the

economy as war goods were once again in great demand. No major New Deal legislation was enacted after

1938. By 1939 public attention focused increasingly on foreign policy and national defense. The New Deal

was over, but it had permanently expanded the role of the federal government, particularly in economic

regulation, resource development, and income maintenance. Although in itself the New Deal failed to

stimulate full economic recovery, it provided the federal government not only with increased controls over

money supply and Federal Reserve policies. It also with increased understanding of the economic

consequences of its own taxing, borrowing, and spending, helping the government to limit the impact of later

recessions. The New Deal changed the relationship between the government and the people of the United

States. In addition to increasing the involvement of the government in people’s lives, the New Deal created a

number of agencies that still exist, and it stimulated the growth of the Democratic Party.

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