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Roosevelt's New Deal

Updated on March 29, 2012

The Great Depression had created an economic climate that discouraged the entire country, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt was able to give the public hope with his New Deal project. Although Roosevelt began his campaign with only vague explanations of his plan he quickly moved into action once his White House stint began. Roosevelt believed that the only way to end the Great Depression was with government programs that would either aid in “Relief, Recover, or Reform.”

Relief was addressed by new areas of the government such as Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA). FERA sought to support those affected by the Great Depression by giving money to over four-million households without a stable income as well as creating over twenty-million jobs with its vast amounts of public works projects across the nation. FERA was eventually dissolved in 1935 after only two years of American assistance.

Two others of Roosevelt’s relief groups were the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Both the CCC and the WPA were agencies that hired large numbers of able bodied men, and sometimes women, in manual labor. Many of these jobs entailed working on anything from bridges to parks, digging ditches to fixing public buildings.

Recovery was the next big step for Roosevelt. One of the largest projects was the National Recovery Administration (NRA) which encouraged companies from several different industries to define codes that would be implemented in their respective industries. These codes were to include conduct in terms of worker relations and business practices in order to create trust in the companies.

The most difficult, but successful, pieces of Roosevelt’s New Deal was the reform branch. Within Roosevelt’s first one-hundred days in office he sought to greatly reform the American banks by enacting Emergency Banking Act and eventually he created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) which insured up to $2,500. He next set his sights on the National Labor Relations Act or what became known as the Wagner Act. The Wagner Act required companies to recognize any union that the majority of the workers decided to join. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) passed in 1938 was the last push for reform and it was the largest. The FLSA overhauled the working class life by enacting a national minimum wage, guaranteeing overtime pay, and virtually ending all child labor.

Roosevelt became the idea man behind the New Deal, while his Democrat heavy Congress worked out many of the details. Congress quickly passed any legislation put forth by Roosevelt because they felt the American people needed nothing short of action. Roosevelt was eventually able to sway the once Republican heavy Judicial Branch to his side when many of the judges retired, in spite of the recent court-packing debacle where Roosevelt tried to simply add more judges. With The whole government behind him Roosevelt was able to adapt to the changing needs of the people with little resistance from the other branches of government.

These New Deal policies can still be felt today, especially in the reforms Roosevelt enacted. What was once seen as socialism is now an American ideal in the minimum wage and the federal backing of worker unions. Today we are able to grow up in schools instead of in factories like so many did before. The New Deal changed America in such a strong way that the ripples are still seen in the political waters today.


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