The New Deal program was a set of reforms and policies introduced under the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1939. While it was aimed at ending the major economic crisis resulting from the Great Depression, it is often considered to be one of the most controversial political and social programs in US history. The effects of the program, its advantages and disadvantages, as well as its influence on public welfare, will be discussed in this essay.
The program focused on three main aspects, which became known as the 3 Rs. These included relief for the poor and unemployed, the recovery of the economy, and reforms in the financial systems which would ensure that an economic depression does not happen again. Other purposes intended by the New Deal program included saving representative democracy in the US and strengthening private enterprise capitalism. Programs such as the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps were introduced to reduce unemployment and maintain basic public welfare. These programs are arguably two of the most successful New Deal policies. The WPA helped to put millions of people to work and improve public infrastructure (Hyman). The CCC, in turn, helped to build about 125,000 miles of roads, 3,000 lookout fire towers, and roughly 318,000 check dams for erosion control. It also helped to construct almost 47 thousand bridges, trails, and shelters and plant billions of trees across the country. All these measures helped Roosevelt’s administration to restore democracy, showing all Americans that the state cares for the people.
In terms of creating economic security, programs such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Social Security Act, and the National Labor Relations Act were introduced. They helped to significantly reduce income inequality and decrease private labor sector practices (Locke and Wright). However, some economists still criticize these programs, claiming that they failed to revitalize the economy following the crisis (Economic Policy Institute). Although there is still controversy over the effectiveness of these programs, many of them, such as the Social Security reform, still exist today.
While many economists used to state that the New Deal weakened capitalism, it can be argued that the programs strengthened it. For example, the Social Security act went against the capitalistic theory that the government should not interfere in areas of business and individualism of a capitalistic society. The act helped to increase employment and decrease poverty, artificially creating jobs and supporting the unemployed. It can be argued that the Roosevelt administration helped to regulate private property and increase the profitability of the capitalistic system by enforcing new banking and stock market regulations. Thus, the influence of a state-planned economy was increased by Roosevelt’s administration.
Nevertheless, the opposition saw some of the New Deal propositions and programs as unconstitutional and excessively constraining. For example, many conservatives believed that the New deal gave too much power to the government, violating the citizens’ individual freedoms. Capitalists were against a number of programs as they thought that the New Deal made the government too involved in private property practices. The opponents tried to challenge the programs before the Supreme Court, which resulted in the overturning of six programs and the closing of one agency. Roosevelt’s administration reacted by drafting the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937, which eventually resulted in the majority of the court supporting the New Deal.
In conclusion, it can be stated that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policy had a range of favorable outcomes. Some of the long-term effects included the stabilization of the financial system, restoration of the agricultural industry, increase in the employment rates, and the overall improvement of the country’s labor legislation. Other effects included the development of the social security system, pension funds, housing construction, and investments in culture.
Economic Policy Institute. “Weak Anti-Retaliation Provisions in the National Labor Relations Act Cost Workers Billions.” 2021, Web.
Hyman, Louis. “The New Deal Wasn’t What You Think.” The Atlantic, 2019, Web.
Locke, Joseph L., and Ben G. Wright. The American Yawp: A Massively Collaborative Open U. S. History Textbook, Vol. 2: Since 1877. 2019.