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Content Reading Guide: FDR’s New Deal Faces Opposition
Many programs formed President FDR’s New Deal strategy. Through the Civil Works Administration, the government built thousands schools, paid 50,000 rural teachers, and built over one million miles of roads. This immediately created jobs for the unemployed and built infrastructure for the USA. The goal was to provide jobs for the construction of these buildings and ensure the upcoming generation was educated.
President Hoover, FDR’s predecessor, wanted a hands off approach and not to give direct relief paid for by taxes. Yet, FDR wanted to pursue direct relief. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) gave food, clothing, and other goods to the unemployed, elderly, and disabled. FDR used deficit spending, spending more money than the government has, kind of like a federal credit card, to achieve these goals.
FDR faced criticism and support for the New Deal. Many liberals asserted the New Deal would rescue the USA from the Great Depression and revive the economy. Many conservative Republicans argued that FDR went too far and guided the USA toward Socialism and a government with too many regulations and taxes.
The actions of FDR were unique. Never in history had a President tried so intentionally to manipulate the economy. In 1935, the National Industry Recovery Act was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The court said only the legislative branch could order the building of structures that required building codes. In 1936, the court ruled that the Agricultural Adjustment Act was a “states matter” and could not be enforced by the federal government. In the USA government, if the Supreme Court declares an action unconstitutional, it must cease. Yet, the President gets to hire the Supreme Court Justices. In 1937, FDR appointed a liberal, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court. This gave FDR a majority and then the court backed FDR’s New Deal.
The Rural Electrification Act (REA) brought electricity to rural, farm areas. In the early 1940s, less than half of farms had electricity. By 1949, 90% did. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act set the maximum work week at 44 hours and created the $0.25 an hour minimum wage rule. Minimum Wage is still around today and increases over time. The Social Security Act ensured that, when citizens reached retirement age, they would not be abandoned to drastic poverty. The system created meant that Americans would pay into Social Security during their working years. Then, those who were 65 and older could draw money out of the system for retirement, since they paid into it when they were younger. It is still around today.
During the first term of FDR, the New Deal did not gain the level of economic achievement he had hoped it would gain. However, there was small improvement. Even though the New Deal did not achieve all FDR dreamed it would, he won reelection in 1936. In fact, FDR ran for more than one term and won the elections of 1940 and 1944. He died in office while serving in his fourth term as President. The New Deal did not end the Great Depression. When the USA entered World War II, the industrial activity needed for victory generated the economy and took the USA out of the Great Depression.
Some people thought FDR’s New Deal was a good thing that would take the nation toward economic recovery. Others thought the New Deal was a bad thing that gave FDR too much power, raised taxes, and made FDR a dictator.
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