New Deal New York


Patricia Truslow, Contributor

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new deal new yorkThe New Deal by President Franklin D. Roosevelt was comprised of economic oriented programs to address what became known as the three "Rs:" "Relief" for the people who were poor and unemployed, "Recovery" of the U.S. economy plagued with the Great Depression, and "Reform" of a financial system that contributed to the depression worldwide. An unintended effect of Roosevelt's New Deal was a realignment of the political landscape in America; it put the Democratic Party in the White House for the next thirty-six years, and it split the Republican Party into conservative and liberal factions. Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal had the support of a liberal base made up of traditional Democrats, the white South, organized labor and the political machines that ran big cities. Republican conservatives were backed by big business

Historians analyze Roosevelt's New Deal as a "First New Deal" and a "Second New Deal," labeling the Second New Deal as being more controversial and liberally focused than the First. The New Deal of Roosevelt vastly increased the role of the federal government in social and economic issues that favored the working man over the growing wealth of business owners. Roosevelt's New Deal brought about changes in America that still reverberate in modern times.

The First New Deal (1933-1934) : This portion of FDR's New Deal encompasses the programs, agencies and legislation of his first one-hundred days as president. During 1933 alone, just a few of the new laws, programs and agencies that Roosevelt's New Deal created were:

  • The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) to help provide aid for the unemployed
  • The Public Works Administration (PWA) which created jobs on government projects
  • The Emergency Banking Relief Act (EBRA) required a bank to be approved by the Federal Reserve by showing solvency before it was allowed to operate.
  • The Glass-Steagall Act to create the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to insure the safety of deposits; it continues in force today.
  • The National Recovery Administration to establish and oversee laws that assisted labor, industry and the unemployed through instant relief and long-term reform and recovery. This was the most complex and controversial of Roosevelt's New Deal laws; it established maximum work weeks, illegalized child labor, empowered unions and set a minimum wage, which led to provisions of the Second New Deal becoming law.

The Second New Deal (1935-1938) : The second phase of FDR's New Deal was focused on redirecting income to the poor, the farmers and the elderly, as well as the promotion of labor unions. The major agencies, programs and laws of Roosevelt's Second New Deal were:

  • The Wagner Act which guarantees private sector employees to organize trade unions. As part of this Roosevelt New Deal law came the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 and the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees the protection unionized workers rights.
  • The Works Progress Administration (WPA) to hire the unemployed for government projects including construction of power plants, roads, bridges and buildings that served the public. This Roosevelt program also created cultural jobs in the arts and a separate agency for the employment of young people.
  • The Social Security Act to protect and provide for a sustainable income for the elderly after retirement.
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which lawfully set the maximum hour work week and the minimum wage in order to ensure fairness for the workforce.

Roosevelt's New Deal in New York: In order for FDR's New Deal programs to gain momentum and support, he needed a showcase that proved the effectiveness and results of his federally back workforce. That showcase came from the mayor of New York, Fiorello Henry LaGuardia, who served three terms during Roosevelt's presidency. LaGuardia, a Republican, heartily supported Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal approach to America's economic and societal problems. Roosevelt, in response to that support, invested $1.1 billion in New York in just five years by using the CWA, WPA and PWA to build public housing, public parks, airports and a public transit system. It was heralded as the most successful major project of Roosevelt's New Deal.

Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal had a great impact on the Great Depression, but the foundations it laid for future employment protections, agricultural protections and national prominence have made America a powerful economic and human rights leader in the world.