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Roosevelt's New Deals

When Franklin Roosevelt became President of the United States in 1933 his mission was set out for him. He had the clear yet difficult mission of getting the United States out of the horrible depression that it was in. When the great depression had come about after the stock market crash of 1929, unemployment had grown to 25%, and in 1933 the banks had a major crash again. Roosevelt began what is known as the “new deals”. The term “new deal” was used by scholars to try to organize the policies and legislation put into place by Roosevelt. It is widely concluded that Roosevelt’s legislation was confusing, hard to organize, and often contradictory. A member of Roosevelt’s cabinet once said, “I really do not know the basic principle of what the new deal is”. There were two new deals during Roosevelt’s presidency. The first was primarily focusing on getting banks running, getting people jobs, and rebuilding the economy. The primary focus of the second new deal was to create social security for the elderly, the poor, and the disabled, it also increased benefits for veterans.

Part of Roosevelt’s policy for the first new deal was to try as many ways to fix something until it was fixed and then move on to the next problem. He was increasingly optimistic about everything he tried and would claim to give hope to those who didn’t have any. With this large task in front of him Roosevelt decided that he would have a multitude of advisors. He gave certain problems to certain people, often giving multiple people the same problem to solve to get multiple solutions to try.

From March to June of 1933 Roosevelt influenced congress to pass multiple bills which would help the United States out of its economic downfall. He helped to create funding for businesses so that they could keep producing goods during the depression.

On March 6 Roosevelt declared a national bank holiday. While the banks were closed he enacted a bill that would put his bank plan into effect. His plan for the banks was to have all the banks inspected by the federal government, reopen those that were financially stable, give assistance to those that needed it, and close the banks that were beyond repair. During the weeks that followed more than a billion dollars were deposited into banks. Roosevelt was famous for his radio aired “fireside chats”. In one of these chats he confirmed to Americans that banks were safe to use once again.

In the June of 1933 Roosevelt signed the Glass-Steagall, which created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The act guaranteed the savings of average citizens and prevented banks from investing money that they didn’t physically have and prohibited over-investing by banks. Roosevelt established several government branches that were given power to regulate banking, Roosevelt established several programs for helping citizens that were out of work and lacked money. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration was established which made funds available for immediate payments to the unemployed. The Civilian Conservation Corps hired 300,000 young men to plant trees in over 1,200 tree-planting camps throughout the U.S. The Civil Works Administration put people to work by making a billion dollars of roads, public parks, bridges, and beach cleaning. The CWA was eventually shut down because of how costly it was.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act was enacted to limit the production of farmers by offering cash incentives. The government believed that the overproduction of produce was causing produce prices and thus the income of farmers to drop. The act has been criticized as communistic because it comes against the free-trade ideals of capitalism. Despite the criticisms the act undeniably worked with increased wages for farmers which led to prosperity in rural areas. Also the Farm Credit Association was giving bailouts to farmers that were losing their farms due to foreclosure.

Some of the most controversial acts of Roosevelt came during his campaigns to help American industry. The National Industrial Recovery Act took power of trade out of the hands of companies and gave it to the government. They hoped to create even more jobs by sponsoring the production of bridges such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. NIRA also created groups to decide on the prices of various products that were being sold to make economy fairer. This power has been particularly criticized due to its communistic nature.

During the second new deal, the most important programs were the following: Social Security, The National Labor Relations Act, and The Rural Electrification. There were also controversial acts such as the “taxing of the rich” act, such acts were closed by the Supreme Court.

The social security act created a system of supporting the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and orphaned children by creating a social security tax, which would be used by the government to pay such people. Over the years the social security act has grown to include such benefits as Medicare, lowering of retirement ages, and increasing the amount of government-funded schools.

The National Labor Relations Act was designed to help employees and customers fight unfair working conditions and unfair prices by businesses. It assisted employees who had complaints to present their complaints to labor unions while providing legal advice to employees to insure that they did not press false complaints against companies.

The Rural Electrification Act was an act created to provide for electricity in remote and rural areas. Previously power companies did not find rural areas profitable enough to send electricity to. The government provided funding for hundreds of electrician teams who laid wire across the countryside and installed electric lights into houses and farms. This required higher voltage because electricity loses volts as it travels through wires. This expense required the government to pay the differences of electricity prices between cities and rural areas for several years. One way this electrical problem was solved was the building of hydroelectric dams throughout the United States, such as the Bonneville Dam in Oregon.

Many of the policies of Roosevelt are carefully studied by many today. Some see him as a hero who saved the United States from a depression while others see him as an over-powerful communist who undermined the capitalistic nature of United States Economy. Despite his faults, he did indeed get the United States out of the great depression but his methods of doing so have remain controversial to this day. Many hold the belief that many of the liberal policies of the twentieth century were based on Roosevelt’s Acts and ideas.

http://millercenter.org/president/fdroosevelt/essays/biography/4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_D._Roosevelt

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