During the Great Depression and the New Deal, the role and power of the federal government changed in unprecedented ways. Agree or Disagree? ExplainDuring the Great Depression and the New Deal,...

During the Great Depression and the New Deal, the role and power of the federal government changed in unprecedented ways. Agree or Disagree? Explain

During the Great Depression and the New Deal, the role and power of the federal government changed in unprecedented ways. Agree or Disagree? Explain

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dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no doubt that the increased power of the federal government under F.D.R.'s New Deal changed the role of the federal government and what Americans expected from their government. However, it is important to understand the reasons behind the greatest shift in federal power since the days of its creation. It was all to clear by the end of the 19th century that the economic effects of the industrial revolution were taking a toll on society. The shift from an agricultural society to one of industry pushed the 19th century's view of economics, and the role of government into unchartered territory.There were several bank panics, the controversy over silver verses gold standards, concentration of wealth in the hands of a few at the expense of the many, and the country's inability to regulate the money supply that gave evidence to the severe weaknesses that existed in the U.S. economic system. Prior to F.D.R., President Wilson (1912) attempted to adjust the American economy. The Underwood-Simmons Tariff to encourage competition, the 16th Amendment (income tax)  would tax the personal incomes of the extremely wealthy, in 1913 he signed The Federal Reserve Act, its goal to regulate money supply. Wilson's policies were directed at the unstable, disproportioned economic policies in the U.S. They helped, however fell short of addressing the 'real' needs of the people. With the severe economic stratification, overproduction, the rising cost of living, and the reckless and greedy behavior of the stock market...(ring a bell) Wilson's economic achievements failed to reach the average American. The 1929 stock market crash economically destroyed Americans, and the Hoover administration was at a loss as to what to do. Worse, the American people did not know how to ask for help. With the election of F.D.R. in 1932 all the rules of the game would change. His presidency was responsibile for the shift not only federal power, but in the power of the presidency itself.  There is no denying that Roosevelt and his policies  were essential for the survival of this nation. He utilized the economic theory of John Maynard Keynes, which was based in aggregate demand, bottom line no jobs make jobs. Employment was the key to undermining the depression, which is why he implemented government sponsored work projects. Roosevelt had his critics, they would suggest his presidency would undermine the principles of the Constitution, questioned whether state sponsored work projects would lead to socialism and the death of American individualism, and ultimately lead to the abuse of his power???All were and are valid questions, if you investigate you will find strong arguments from both sides. I think it's fair to say that Roosevelt became president when America needed Roosevelt. In history there are times when the historical circumstances are met with an individual that is up to the task....Roosevelt was one of those individuals.

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator
In an effort to get people back to work and the economy going, the time of the New Deal did create a much greater role for government. During the first 100 days of FDR's administration, more legislation was passed than in any other previous president's history. Among those acts were:

1. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration--this granted $500 to the states to help people with food and shelter.

2.The Civilian Conservation Corps Act--The government paid young men to build bridges, dams, roads and plant 17 million dollars in new forests. The men were paid $30 a month and had to send most of their money back to their families.

3. The Agricultural Adjustment Act-This act paid farmers not to plant
crops so the surpluses would not drive down prices.

4. The National Industrial Recovery Act--This act created the first minimum wage and represented the first government intervention in business.

5.The Works Projects Administration--The government created over 250,000 projects and paid people to complete them.

6. The Social Security Act---This act created a pension for those people over 65 years of age.

The New Deal became the "dominant social policy" for decades. It did not end until the administration of Ronald Reagan in 1980. But stay tuned--After voting for a hugh bailout for Wall Street, Congress is going to meet again in a lame-duck session to try to work out an economic package that will help save America from a second Great Depression.
alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree, but when it comes to social programs I am all for the government taking a bigger role. Most people living in a capitalitic society would drown if it was not for the government stepping in and giving some support to the people. The Preamble of our Constitution says it all: "Promote General Welfare" and "Insure Domestic Tranquilty". Our Founding Fathers created a government that would be there for the people. Big government for social programs, little government for more laws and restrictions which makes us feel like we have no privacy.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that it did change in unprecedented ways, but not unreasonable ones.  I think mostly government just caught up to the economic growth we had experienced and created sensible regulations on business extremes and a safety net for the American consumer, the elderly, orphaned and physically challenged.  And it is certainly true the American government had never before done those things.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I definitely agreed that the role of the federal government changed. It became the government's job to take care of the people. The president's role was to be fatherly provider. This also gives the government power- now they directly employ and provide for people.