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Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s new deal

The New Deal is name given to a series of actions taken by F. D. Roosevelt’s administration to reform the American economic domain that suffered massively during the Great Depression. The chief objective of the New Deal was keeping a balance between different interests in a capitalistic system and to lead American nation and economic system to a new future. Though the actions of FDR’s administration did not form a part of carefully planned scheme and were taken to deal with the immediate problems, yet of all actions were guided by three principles-relief, recovery and reform.

FDR administration succeeded in preventing the destruction of American economic and political system. In fact, as a result of his administration, policies and effective measures, American socio-economic system was further strengthened. Background Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Democratic Party’s candidate for the presidency, promised American voters “A New Deal” three years after the stock prices crushed on Wall Street signaling the beginning of the Great Depression.

The laws that Congress begun enacting a few days after Roosevelt took office in the first week of March 1933 is what came to be known by the new president, the press and every American citizen as the New Deal. This New Deal was United States national reaction to the Great Depression. Among the things that it dramatically shaped are the presidential power, politics and the role of federal government in the United States economy. The majority of United States citizens recognized the New Deal as a tremendously important turning point in the history of their nation by 1936.

A very strong opinion was held by the public about Roosevelt and the New Deal. Millions of Americans loved the president and defended the New Deal vehemently. This sentiment was however not shared by everyone. There are those who loathed the president and his New Deal reforms. This impassioned political division over the New Deal founded new meanings for the terms “liberal” and “conservative”-meanings that Americans still employ up to date. For the majority of Americans who lived through the Great Depression, the New Deal was conceived of as a great national achievement, something close to establishing the Republic or abolishing slavery.

The New Deal adopted the powers of the federal government to a United States that had emerged to be a great urban industrial nation in the twentieth century. The fundamental focus of the New Deal reform program was a liberal commitment to make federally guaranteed economic security a political right for every United States citizen. This ideological commitment was exuded in a number of New Deal programs such as social security pensions, federal unemployment benefits, federal deposit insurance, and federal farm price supports.

Supporters held the view that these New Deal programs were both necessary and inviolable. During his last years of presidency, Roosevelt attempted to make the New Deal permanent as the President during the Second World War. As the leader of the nation and a candidate for an unprecedented fourth term, he defined the new “Economic Bill of Rights” that would put in place an agenda for politics after the war. In one of his fireside radio addresses on 11 January, 1944, Roosevelt explained that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.

He held that the Americans have consented to a second Bill of |Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race or creed. Roosevelt’s universal Economic Bill of Rights encompassed the rights to a useful and remunerative job, the rights to adequate food, clothing and recreation, the right to a descent home, the right to adequate medical care and the right to a good education. The New Deal promised farmers prices for their crops that will offer them and their families a descent living.

It also promised businessmen freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies. Finally, it pledged to all the right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age and sickness and accident and unemployment. As was noted by Roosevelt, all these rights spelled security. The New Deal had far reaching consequences. In 1944 and three decades after the Second World War, many American voters supported government efforts to guarantee this same kind of economic security. This in itself offers proof to the vast effectiveness and impact of the New Deal on the American society.

Many of the Americans recognized that the actual achievements of the goals that were set in the Economic Bill of Rights needed a great expansion of the power of the federal government. The Americans thus approved the goal and the method that were put forth. Voters approved of income security programs for individuals and farmers, regulation of financial institutions and industrial corporations, spending programs to build infrastructure and create jobs an many other federal initiatives to foster economic growth.

With the ghost of the Great Depression hovering into the Cold War era, many Americans expected that the rich would be more heavily taxed than working individuals and that the benefits of government programs would be equitably shared by all citizens. This fundamental assumption s had guided the New Deal and they continued to guide the dominant Democratic Party after World War II. Reform Measures taken by FDR administration Initial New Deal programs were designed not so much to further reform as to produce recovery.

The consequence was that they often benefited big business and agriculture-superbly organized and influential groups on whose fate an upturn depended. More marginal, weaker groups such as small businesses, blue collar workers and landless farmers found themselves on the outside. Yet, even the earliest New Deal measures clearly suggested that the Roosevelt administration had an intention to steer the country in a dramatically new direction. This new direction was largely dependent upon Roosevelt’s own perspective. The New Deal ultimately derived on many sources.

Among them were the recommendations of the president’s “brain trust”, the advice of influential cabinet members, the initiatives taken by Democratic congressional leaders and grassroots political ferment that made its presence felt in the nation’s capital. The role of Roosevelt was to reconcile the sharply conflicting views of his reform minded supporters. The New Deal thus bored the stamp of many authors, emerged from no master plan and did not neatly fit into a single ideological box. The National Industrial Recovery Act that was passed in June 1933 was the most important early New Deal initiative.

This act established the National Recovery Administration. Founded ion the ideal of a business-government partnership, the National Recovery Administration enabled business executives to draft codes of fair competition, subject to presidential approval, that regulated prices and wages with the goal of keeping both high enough to ensure reasonable profits and decent wages. These codes forbade or limited a broad spectrum of cutthroat competitive practices such as below cost sales, trade in allowances and the use of child labor.

The new approach was defended by Roosevelt as creating a partnership in planning between government and business. However, by May 1935 when the Supreme Court declared NRA unconstitutional, it was already clear that the agency had failed to achieve its broader goals. Big businesses consolidated control over the market by using its domination of code drafting process, partially by inserting provisions that kept production low and prices high. The agency also came under attack from consumers and small business operators who were dissatisfied by a section of the act which was meant to protect the right organize.

This section proved to be ineffectual. The Supreme Court, in the “sick chicken” case, ruled that the Schetcher brothers who purchased, slaughtered and sold chickens, were involved only in intrastate commerce. Their enterprise was therefore outside the realm of federal regulation under the Constitution’s commerce clause. Roosevelt’s reaction to this ruling was characterized by anger since he recognized that the justice’s reasoning directly struck at his view of government as a guarantor of social welfare.

The narrow construction of the commerce clause by the court, Roosevelt realized, would frustrate many reform proposals. He commented privately that the justices would probably discover that only ten percent of all business transactions were involved directly in interstate commerce. He however assailed the ruling at a press conference, allowing reporters to quote that “we have been relegated to the horse-and -buggy definition of interstate commerce”. Less than a fortnight before the Supreme Court’s ruling in Schechter, Roosevelt informally spoke to a delegation of farmers who were visiting the capital.

He used the occasion to defend the Agricultural Adjustment Act which had served as the foundation of New Deal farm policy for two years. He explained that the government had tried to strike equilibrium between agricultural production and consumption so as to avoid surpluses and ensure that farmers got a fair price. Consequences of the New Deal Roosevelt recognized the role of government in providing relief to the destitute in addition to aiding business and agriculture cope with the difficulties of the Depression. Through the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, funds were dispensed to help the jobless.

This was also done through the Civil Works Administration and later through the Works Progress Administration. The New Deal broke from the past practice by providing outright federal grants, consequently providing millions of Americans with the necessities of life. Relief policies of Roosevelt’s administration were founded on elementary principles of justice and fairness. Roosevelt further asserted that the fundamental concern of any government dominated by the humane ideals of democracy is the simple principle that in a land of vast resources, no one should be allowed to starve.

The aim was not merely to offer grants but to offer the unemployed useful and remunerative work. In his address to the Congress in 1938, Roosevelt summed up the social philosophy of the New Deal in the following words: The government has a final responsibility for the well-being of its citizenship. If private co-operative endeavor fails to provide work for willing hands and relief for the unfortunate, those suffering hardship from no fault of their own have the right to call upon the government for aid; and a government worthy if its name must make fitting response.

There was no cause which was closer to Roosevelt’s heart than conservation and in no realm did his administration develop more innovative measures. Within two years after taking office, Roosevelt had altered Americans’ expectations by demonstrating that they could reasonably look to the government for help when faced with economic distress. He effectively incapacitated conservative critics who held that the New Deal programs were subverting personal freedom. The Supreme Court and the New Deal

The Supreme Court had begun its life as the least threatening and most obscure branch of the federal government and only developed gradually into its complete partnership with the president and Congress. The court was the unknown branch for most of the Republic’s first century. Yet, when Americans thought of the courts, they often saw it as inextricably linked with the constitution, at time viewing the court and the Constitution as one in the same. Nevertheless, the image and reality of the court collided during the New Deal crisis.

The clash between Roosevelt and the justices involved two competing strands in the court’s modern history. The predominantly conservative jurisprudence of the Court, from the 1990s to the early 1930s, had not lacked supporters in the broader American political system. The conservative forces had often had the upper hand in the electoral politics. However, the Great Depression brought about as electoral realignment. The predominant party in American politics became the Democrats. The new democrat ascendancy was founded on the politics of New Deal Liberalism.

These policies were formulated as a reaction to the need to counter the economic collapse and social deprivation that started with the Wall Street crash of October 1929. The founding principle under the New Deal was the belief that the federal government must take responsibility for the economy’s health and the wellbeing of the American people. Consequently, these new responsibilities needed an unprecedented level of government planning, regulation and intervention particularly on behalf of the underprivileged members of the society. Roosevelt was elected the president on the promise to initiate these bold exp0eriments in government.

During hi9s time in office, the Democrats achieved great victories in congressional elections with the result that many New Deal policies were enacted. Much of this legislation ran counter to the impulse of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence and inevitably the majority of New Deal measures found themselves under constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court. Initially, the laissez-faire majority on the Court stayed resolute. With varying levels of support form other Justices, the majority of major measures of the New Deal, including the National Industrial Recovery act and the Agricultural Recovery Act were struck down.

An angry Roosevelt endeavored to curb the power of the court and prompt it to accept the New Deal. He sent the Court-packing bill to the Congress in 1937. This measure would enable him to appoint an additional Justice to the Court for each current justice aged over seventy years. Presented as a measure to enable the Court to effectively handle its arduous workload, the measure was simply a device by which to establish a New Deal majority on the Court. Two thirds of the members were above seventy years. The bill was greatly resisted even among Roosevelt’s usual supporters.

This move was seen by the majority as an unhealthy for the American democracy as it was an attempt to manipulate and subordinate a co-equal branch of the federal government. However, it was the court itself that effectively scuppered the bill by withdrawing from its confrontation with the New Deal. In 1937, the Court upheld a minimum wage law from the state of Washington. A significant aspect was that the Washington statute virtually resembled a law which had been struck down as a violation of the freedom of contract in 1923. The Court had in effect committed a volte-face.

A series of decision making soon followed which made it clear that the court was giving up its role as overseer of socio-economic policy and that, henceforth, the federal government would be allowed to do whatever it wished in this area of policy regardless of what the constitution appeared to say. The so called “switch in time that saves nine” ascertained that the court packing bill would not be passed. However, it unambiguously showed the practical limits to the Supreme Court’s power and role. All these made it easy for the New Deal measures to be implemented. Conclusion

Capitalism in the United States collapsed in the 1930s as the world economy sunk deeper into depression. The collapsing free market economy during this time impoverished the majority of the American people. Many families could neither fend for themselves nor their families. The pinch was felt even among the millionaires. The confidence in the self correcting rational marketplace that characterized 1920s was difficult to find. Among the congregation that thronged Washington on Inauguration Day were businessmen, bankers and plantation owners who hoped to persuade the newly elected president and the new Democratic Congress to support them.

Like all other Americans, they had nowhere to turn. The majority of Americans were not certain how or even if the Great Depression could be ended. However, the downward economic spiral that characterized depression was to be reversed later that year with Roosevelt and his New Deal restoring the confidence of the majority of Americans in capitalism and democracy. The problem of mass unemployment was not however solved until 1942. The New Deal was how democratic United States reacted to the Great Depression and the great fears of 1932-1933.

During the spring of 1933, President Roosevelt and the newly elected Congress reversed the long downward economic spiral that had led to the collapse of the nation’s banking system. For this reason alone, the New Deal came as a salvation to the majority of Americans. The New Deal also did much more. By 1941, the Roosevelt administrations had established a set of federal institutions and programs meant to provide security to every citizen regardless of their economic function in society.

The New Deal had also build up infrastructure using workers who had been made redundant by the collapse of private enterprise. This infrastructure enabled the whole nation to prosper during and after the Second World War. These were newly established roles for the federal government that conservatives have never been able to accept as legitimate. Yet, the New Deal was conceived of during the period of the Great Depression as a triumph of democracy. For Roosevelt, the cure for depression was to change the basis of the free-market system.

He was the first president who explicitly associated economic security for the working class with the fundamental constitutional rights. According to him, market forces could not guarantee a decent standard of living but the government could do exactly that. In his view, the government had to adopt the role of a manager to prevent the collapse of the economy and the end of free and democratic government. He was however wrong about the origins of the depression since the free market economy had to achieve its outer limits of useful productive capacity.

However, the welfare state survived and Roosevelt achieved a greater impact on the history and thinking of Americans. Bibliography Edward White, The Constitution and the New Deal, Harvard University Press, 2002 James T. Patrterson, America’s Struggle against Poverty, 1990-1994 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994) Richard Polenberg, The era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945: a brief history with documents Palgrave Macmillan, 2000 Richard Polenberg, “The Decline of the New Deal,” in The New Deal: the National Level, ed.

John Braeman et al (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1975) Robert J. McKeever, The United States Supreme Court: a political and legal analysis, Manchester University Press ND, 1997 Ronald Edsforth, The New Deal: America’s response to the Great Depression. Wiley-Blackwell, 2000 Mark J. Rozell & William D. Pederson, FDR and the modern presidency: leadership and legacy Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997 William E. Lleuchtenburg, The Supreme Court Reborn: The Constitutional Revolution in the Age of Roosevelt (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995)

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