Franklin D Roosevelt and the New Deal by William Leuchtenburg



The book “Franklin D. Roosevelt And The New Deal” by William E. Leuchtenburg projects the main achievements of the president while keeping up with the terrible situation of The Great Depression. In this respect the author pays quite enough attention to each reform done by Roosevelt with a particular accuracy in facts and further outcomes. Thus, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Wagner Act, and the Social Security Act were too needful for Americans dying from the negative effects of the time. The federal control over the prices and the verification of federal spending per each fiscal year were at the core of the Roosevelt’s New Deal, as he said: “Too often in recent history, liberal governments have been wrecked on rocks of loose fiscal policy” (Leuchtenburg, 1963, p. 45). Henceforth, it was vital for the president to come up with a set of decisions for the national recovery as soon as possible. The Agricultural Adjustment Act was a firm step toward making the farming easier in terms of financial discourse. Insofar, it was efficient for supporting prices as well as extending the limits of credit for farmers throughout the country and, especially, in its historical southern states (Leuchtenburg, 1963). It was one of the first decisions made to relieve the causes of Depression on the agricultural sector. However, the weakness came to being of some social character: “Since it provided for alternative systems of subsidizing farm staples, the law simply postponed the quarrel over farm policy” (Leuchtenburg, 1963, p. 51). Hence, it served a pitfall for the future cooperation of farmers notwithstanding a solid support of the state. In order to achieve a desired goal of the national recovery, Roosevelt seeks to pass the National Industrial Recovery Act. It was necessary as it aimed at increasing salaries while decreasing work hours by means of the voluntary activities of the population (Leuchtenburg, 1963). However, there were serious misconceptions between the labor force and employers coming into a conflict situation to deepen the Depression. To say more, “labor insisted the President should enforce its right to collective bargaining, while employers either defied the government or resorted to the subterfuge of setting up company unions” (Leuchtenburg, 1963, p. 107). Hence, Roosevelt had little idea of what to do in such a situation with no prejudice to each party separately. The Wagner Act served the goal of making labor the main source of political relationships. In this respect the act increased the role of collective bargaining and the need for trade unions and unionism at large (Leuchtenburg, 1963). It was a step toward more unification and cohesion within the national recovery of labor movement, as a “healing hand” for the economical growth. Nevertheless, it was effective solely in the long run. The Social Security Act protected the population by providing insurance for old people and those being unemployed at the moment (Leuchtenburg, 1963). Indeed, it was helpful as an additional guarantee for social survival, since Americans felt a huge support on the part of the federal government. On the other hand, the act was inefficient due to its declassification of different strata of workers, leaving them no room for federal system of insurance (Leuchtenburg, 1963). In other words, it did not address all layers of the US society, and, thus, was unfair and deflationary by nature. Leuchtenburg (1963) comments on the act in the following way: “By relying on regressive taxation and withdrawing vast sums to build up reserves, the act did untold economic mischief” (p. 132). This is why it made an attempt toward the national breakthrough, but, unfortunately, it could not be achieved at once. Moreover, Leuchtenburg (1963) outlines that there were two deals, The First New Deal and The Second New Deal. The main difference is that the President provided even more support of the labor by breaking up utility holding companies which made conservatives go enraged: “Roosevelt’s program rested on the assumption that a just society could be secured by imposing a welfare state on a capitalist foundation” (Leuchtenburg, 1963, p. 165). Thus, it was a crucial time of reformation when Americans first felt the solid governmental support of the labor, as the main source for recovery. Finally, an overall statement by Leuchtenburg (1963) on the New Deal is that all acts passed by the Congress and clearly checked out by Roosevelt were not a great and “consistent strategy to boost purchasing power or increase business investment” (Leuchtenburg, 1963, p. 70). Arriving at this viewpoint, there is plenty to talk about further breakthrough of the American economy by engaging with the Keynesian standpoints during the World War II. Reference Leuchtenburg, W. E. (1963). Franklin D Roosevelt And The New Deal. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.