The Great Depression and its impact Assessment of the New Deal (Critics…
The Great Depression and its impact
Assessment of the New Deal
Critics of the New Deal
The nine judges on the supreme court often caused problems for FDR
The highest court in the U.S. has the power to overrule a president's decisions if they are judged to be unconstitutional
When FDR came to power, the court was made up of aged men who were appointed during the Republican years
For some years these judges viewed many aspects of the New Deal as unconstitutional
In 1936 FDR added more judges to the bench that would favour his policies, though eventually, some of the judges did change their minds
Claimed that Roosevelt was behaving like a dictator and making the government too power
some were comparing FDR to Hitler and Stalin
They said that the TVA and NRA schemes were just like the communist economic planning of the Soviet Union
Believed that Social Security would undermine the American way of life by making people lazy and dependent on government help.
Also objected to the huge cost of the New Deal
Claimed that much of the money was being wasted, for example, the WPA was paying people to do unnecessary jobs
Business leaders did not like government interference in their affairs
They were angry about FDR's support for trade union and the campaign to raise wages
Disliked having to pay social security contributions for their workers
Objected to schemes like the TVA, which they argued was unfair as they had to compete with privately owned businesses.
Criticised all the codes and regulations of the NRA and other agencies as confusing and difficult to administer
In 1934, a group of business leaders formed the Liberty League to oppose the New Deal
Many wealthy Americans resented having to pay higher taxes to pay for the work of the New Deal agencies.
They were bitter that FDR's policies had taken away some of their power.
Elected Governor of Louisiana, a poor southern state, in 1928
At first he supported the New Deal but by 1934 he was attacking it for not doing enough for the poor
He proposed a "Share our Wealth" scheme → wanted all personal fortunes of over $5 million to be confiscated and the money shared out
He said every American family should be given $4000 - $5000
He also promised a minimum wage, houses for war veterans, pensions and completely free education
Long remained popular with whites in Louisiana and had a following across the USA
Father Coughlin, the "radio priest"
Father Coughlin broadcasted his ideal on radio to some 40 million Americans on Sunday evenings during "the Golden Hour of the Little Flower".
His praises for FDR turned to vicious attacks.
He accused FDR of failing to tackle the problem of the poor
He set up the National Union for Social Justice which attracted millions of members from all over America
However, his ideas were rather confusing and his audience had largely faded away by 1940.
Significance of the New Deal
Physical Rehabilitation of Country
Attacked soil erosion
Built dams and planted trees to prevent floods
Reclaimed the grasslands of the Great Plains
Developed water power resources
Encouraged regional reconstruction projects like the TVA and Columbia River project
Established the principle that government has responsibility for the health, welfare, and security, as well as the protection and education of its citizens
Embraced social security, public health, housing
Entered the domain of agriculture and labour
Revitalisation of Politics
Strengthened executive branch
Reasserted presidential leadership
Revitalised political party as a vehicle for the popular will and as an instrument for effective action
Extension of Democracy
Redefined the concept of democracy so that it included not only political rights but economic security and social justice as well.
Maintenance of a Democratic System
The New Deal maintained a democratic system of government and society in a world threatened by totalitarianism.
Increased size and scope of government to meet needs of the depression
Provided the leadership that enabled Congress to put through the necessary relief, recovery, and reform measures.
Sponsored moderate legislation to neutralize the popularity of radical opponents
Indeed, the New Deal has had a large and positive impact on the USA in dealing with the after effects of the Great Depression.
It created new jobs for some of the unemployed, dealt with the problem of over-production and under-consumption that was prevalent in the agricultural sector and set up new acts and policies that protected the working class or aided those in need.
However, the New Deal measures did not drastically reduce unemployment to its very low percentage before the Great Depression though it did do something to improve it.
Perhaps the best measure of the New Deal's success is when FDR attempted to cut back on the govt measures in 1936 and unemployment rose up again. This greatly displayed the nation's need for govt intervention in which the New Deal had offered this.
This would continue until the 1940s when the govt military spending on WWII and the sudden increase in job opportunities manufacturing weaponry and such that created the economic stimulus that finally eliminated unemployment in the U.S.