The classic analysis of Roosevelt's various New Deal programs has grouped them into one of three categories: relief, recovery, and reform. Most of the initial programs in the first New Deal (1933-34) fell into the first two categories, with a few notable exceptions. Relief measures included the following:
- Federal Emergency Relief Administration, which issued grants to cash-strapped states to use in providing assistance to people who had been affected by the depression.
- Agricultural Adjustment Act, which took drastic steps to help struggling farmers by stablizing agricultural prices.
- Civilian Conservation Corps, which put thousands of unemployed young men to work in conservation projects.
- Public Works Administration, which created large public works projects (such as highways, bridges, and dams) that created jobs for thousands of Americans.
Recovery measures included some programs intended to simply restore the economy to its former footing, but others aimed at permanently improving the lives of Americans while stimulating the economy (the PWA could fall in this category as well). They included:
- National Industrial Recovery Act, which was intended to stimulate industrial production through a series of price controls and incentives. This led to the creation of the NRA (National Recovery Administration) which created a massive bureaucracy for regulating industry.
- Tennessee Valley Authority, which built dams through the impoverished Tennessee River Valley to control flooding and to provide electricity.
Reform measures included permanent attempts to regulate the banking and financial systems of the United States. They included:
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insured investors against bank collapse with federal funds.
- Glass-Steagall Act, which regulated the relationship between investment banking and commercial banking, limiting the amount of speculative investment that banks could engage in.
These are only a small sampling of the dozens of laws and executive actions of the First New Deal. Additionally, many of the other major New Deal reforms, such as the Wagner Act and the Social Security Act, are generally considered part of the so-called Second New Deal. But thinking of Roosevelt's aims in terms of the "three R's" can help make sense of what the New Deal was intended to do.