How successful was the New Deal




How successful was the New Deal


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How successful was the New Deal

How successful was the New Deal?

As with most historical questions, there are two sides to this issue
On the one hand, it can be argued that the New Deal was a success (the 5Rs).
On the other hand, there are many arguments that it had serious weaknesses and failings (the 3Ds).


1.  Relief
Millions of people received relief, help with their mortgage, jobs etc. from the alphabet agencies.
2.  Roads and buildings
The PWA and the TVA provided valuable economic and social infrastructures, such as roads, airports, schools, theatres, dams etc

3.  Reform
Roosevelt's new laws about social security/ minimum wage/ labour relations and trade unions survived and protected ordinary people’s rights and conditions.   Democracy survived in America (unlike Italy and Germany)

4.  Roosevelt
became the people's hero - he was elected four times.
5.  Repercussions
Democracy survived in America (unlike Italy and Germany).   The New Deal became a model of how a democratic government ought to behave - arguably influenced the British Welfare State of 1948.   And in 1998, when the Labour Government of Britain was trying to introduce new laws to help poor people, it called it: a New Deal.


Weaknesses and Failings

1.  Did not end the Depression
- indeed, Roosevelt's insistence on a balanced budget, healthy interest rates and ‘sound money’ may have helped to continue it.   Roosevelt had no new ideas how to end the depression – just Hoover’s schemes only bigger.   By 1935 he had failed to end unemployment (which was only down to 10.6 million), and – although unemployment fell to 7.7 million in 1937 – when Roosevelt tried to cut back government expenditure in 1938, it rose again to 10.4 million.   It is not really fair to criticise Roosevelt for this - no one at that time knew how to end the Depression - but the Depression did not end until the Second World War got production going again.
2.  Damaged Blacks and immigrants
– in fact, many were laid off as a direct result of the New Deal’s attempts to give workers rights.
3.  Determined Opposition (BRASS)
a   Businessmen hated the New Deal because it interfered with their businesses and supported workers’ rights.   Rich people accused Roosevelt of betraying his class.   Henry Ford hired thugs to attack his trade union workers.
b   Republicans hated the expenditure, which they said was wasteful (‘boondoggling’ – jobs for the sake of jobs).  CWA had to be abolished in 1935, though immediately replaced by the PWA.   After 1938, Republicans took over the Senate, and Roosevelt was unable to get any more New Deal legislation through.
c   Activists like Huey Long (Senator for Louisiana who started a Share the Wealth’ campaign to confiscate fortunes over $3m) and Francis Townsend (who campaigned for a pension of $200 a month) said it did not go far enough.
d   State governments opposed the New Deal, saying that the Federal government was taking their powers.
e   The Supreme Court ruled that the NRA codes of employers’ conduct, and the AAA programme, were illegal because they took away the States’ powers.   Because of this, in 1937, Roosevelt threatened to force old Supreme Court judges to retire and to create new ones; the crisis was averted when the Supreme Court reversed its decisions.


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How successful was the New Deal