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FDR's New Deal for America


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Roosevelt Changed the American Welfare System Through the New Deal

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Prior to the New Deal, the welfare system in America largely operated on the local and church level. Herbert Hoover believed government intervention unnecessary and therefore lost the 1932 election because the people wanted government involvement in the economy. Once Roosevelt became president, he redefined the welfare principles of America. Legislation like the Unemployment Relief Act (March 31, 1933), the Federal Emergency Relief Act (March 12, 1933), and the Social Security Act (August 14, 1933) gave government a front seat in the distribution of welfare. Today, welfare, in great amounts, comes from governmental agencies and services. Americans now rely on services like Social Security, and government aid no longer seems extreme or intrusive. Although churches and charities still contribute a great deal to today’s welfare system, Roosevelt’s New Deal changed how Americans viewed government intervention during stages of economic depression or recession. The American people now accept, and at times depend on, government welfare to get through tough financial times.

Controversy surrounding the New Deal

Roosevelt entered office without a specific set of plans for dealing with the Great Depression.  The "First New Deal" (1933-34) encompassed the proposals offered by a wide spectrum of groups. (Not included was the Socialist Party, whose influence was greatly diminished.) This first phase of the New Deal was also characterized by fiscal conservatism and experimentation with several different, sometimes contradictory, cures for economic ills. The consequences were predictably uneven. Whether the New Deal can be credited with the economy's eventual recovery, or blamed for impeding it––and which of its aspects were most effective––thus remains a complicated, and highly controversial, question.

Contributor: Clio
Created: September 12, 2008 · Modified: November 20, 2009

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