The New Deal era in America: Economic crisis and political change
The New Deal era in America had its beginnings in the 1920s and officially spanned from 1933 until well into the 1960s. The New Deal was a broad set of domestic programs enacted in the United States during the 1930s in response to the Great Depression. The programs were designed to bring relief to the unemployed, help farmers, and promote economic recovery. While some of the programs were only temporary, others, such as Social Security, have become permanent fixtures of American society. The New Deal era is often associated with the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who launched many of the programs, and it marked a shift in American politics from laissez-faire capitalism to a more active role for government in regulating the economy and providing social welfare services.
2. The New Deal liberalism in America
a. The 1920s
The 1920s was a decade of economic growth and prosperity in the United States. After World War I, American businesses expanded rapidly, thanks in part to new technologies such as automobiles and electricity, and also to increased demand for American goods abroad. This boom led to a rise in consumer spending and a huge increase in corporate profits. Many Americans became quite wealthy during this time, and a new class of rich people known as “the millionaires” emerged. At the same time, there was also a growing number of poor Americans who struggled to make ends meet. This widening gap between rich and poor was one of the major problems that would eventually lead to the Great Depression.
b. Roosevelt and the New Deal
In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president of the United States on a promise to end the Great Depression. He quickly got to work implementing his “New Deal” programs, which included creating new agencies such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide jobs for unemployed Americans, as well as launching programs like Social Security and Medicaid to help those in need. The New Deal did provide some relief from the worst effects of the Depression, but it also ushered in a new era of government involvement in the economy that would last for decades.
c. The New Deal and business
The New Deal era was characterized by a more active role for government in regulating business and promoting economic growth. One of the key features of this new approach was the establishment of government-sponsored “alphabet agencies” like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which helped to stabilize financial markets and protect consumers from fraud. The New Deal also included initiatives like the National Recovery Administration (NRA), which encouraged businesses to adopt codes of fair practice in order to reduce competition and increase prices. These policies led to increased profits for businesses, but they also made life more difficult for consumers who saw their purchasing power decline.
d. The New Deal and government
The New Deal era also saw a dramatic expansion of government power at both the federal and state level. In addition to creating new agencies and programs, Roosevelt also used his executive authority to make several “recess appointments” when Congress was not in session, bypassing opposition from conservative lawmakers who sought to limit his power. At the state level, many governors followed Roosevelt’s lead by enacting their own version of the New Deal, which led to a significant increase in the size and scope of government.
3. Aftermath of the New Deal
a. Social security
One of the most lasting legacies of the New Deal era is Social Security, which is a government-sponsored retirement and disability program that provides benefits to workers and their families. Social Security was first enacted in 1935, and it has since become one of the most important social welfare programs in the United States. The program is funded by payroll taxes, and it currently provides benefits to over 60 million Americans.
b. American liberalism
The New Deal era also saw the rise of American liberalism, which is a political philosophy that favors a more active role for government in promoting economic and social justice. Liberalism had been a minority viewpoint in American politics prior to the 1930s, but the success of Roosevelt’s New Deal Programs helped to make it a dominant force in American politics for many decades. Today, there are still many liberals who support an active role for government in solving social problems, but there are also many conservatives who seek to limit government power.
The New Deal era was a time of economic crisis and political change in the United States. The policies enacted during this time helped to spur economic growth and reduce poverty, but they also led to a more active role for government in the economy. The legacy of the New Deal can still be seen today in programs like Social Security and in the ongoing debate over the role of government in society.