How Did The Second New Deal Differ From The First

How did the so-called Second New Deal differ from the first?

Also, what political pressures did Roosevelt face that contributed to the new policies?

Expert Answers
davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Second New Deal was closely connected to the prevailing political pressures facing FDR at the time. For one thing, the first New Deal hadn't made anywhere near enough of an impact on the nation's economy. Unemployment remained stubbornly high, businesses were still failing at an alarming rate, and the threat of another Depression seemed always just around the corner.

This led some to believe that FDR had been too cautious in his approach, too conservative in tackling the major structural problems in the American economy. The much more aggressive, more ostensibly liberal character of the second New Deal should be seen against this background. Although some, undoubtedly, supported the New Deal out of ideological conviction, FDR, for his part, remained something of a pragmatist. The point can be illustrated by the establishment of the WPA in 1935. The emphasis here was not on government competing for the creation of jobs with the private sector, but rather on rebuilding America's shattered infrastructure.

The growing power of labor was also a significant component of the second New Deal, culminating in the passage of the National Labor Relations Act, or Wagner Act of 1935. But again, the impetus for change was practical, rather than ideological. Labor unions were becoming an increasingly important part of the coalition that would keep the Democrats in the White House for twenty years from 1933 onwards. Under these conditions the Roosevelt administration simply couldn't afford to ignore the concerns of organized labor.

The momentum of the second New Deal slowed considerably in the face of judicial assault, with the Supreme Court striking down both the National Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act. FDR's cumbersome attempt at packing the Court with sympathetic justices merely served to heighten suspicion of the New Deal and slow its progress considerably. The ensuing tactical retreat led to a new downturn, popularly labelled the "Roosevelt recession." Tellingly, it was both liberals and conservatives alike who pinned this label firmly on FDR, albeit for different reasons.

At various stages of the second New Deal, we see FDR as the arch pragmatist, the consummate politician, trying to salvage what he could from a legislative program under increasing threat. It wasn't until the United States entered World War II after Pearl Harbor that the spirit of the New Deal was fully implemented. But even here, this was a hard-headed response to a national crisis rather than an attempt at effecting deep structural change in American economic life.

 

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Second New Deal is different in some ways from the First New Deal. One difference is that there was more accomplished in the First New Deal. One reason for this was that the country was in desperate shape when President Roosevelt took office. Many people were expecting action from the President. In his first one hundred days in office, fifteen major laws were passed. These included the Glass-Steagall Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, and the National Industrial Recovery Act.

By 1935, even with the creation of many of the First New Deal programs, unemployment remained high, although not as high as when President Roosevelt first took office. As a result, there was more criticism of President Roosevelt and the First New Deal as the election of 1936 approached. There were people within his own party who felt he didn’t do enough to end the Great Depression. President Roosevelt was concerned he might not get his party’s nomination in 1936. As a result, some of the programs of the Second New Deal were designed to ensure that most people in President Roosevelt’s political party, the Democratic Party, would support him. This led to laws or programs such as the Social Security Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Works Progress Administration.

President Roosevelt knew he couldn’t lose the support of workers. The National Labor Relations Act and the Works Progress Administration were designed to help ensure that workers would support him. The Works Progress Administration provided jobs for unemployed workers while the National Labor Relations Act helped unions exist and protected workers from poor treatment by their employers. The Social Security Act gave a pension to many workers and provided for unemployment insurance for those without jobs.

Thus, while both the First and Second New Deal programs were designed to help people and to deal with the effects of the Great Depression, the programs of the Second New Deal were based more on political factors. Also, there were fewer programs than there were with the First New Deal.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Second New Deal (1935-38) is generally seen as way more liberal than the first.

During the first New Deal, FDR was trying to be more of a moderate and please everyone.  But he then faced lots of criticism from both liberals and conservatives.  Because of this, he decided he had to do one thing or the other and quit trying to do both.

So in the Second New Deal he did more liberal things like the Wagner Act that helped unions and like creating Social Security.  These were things that got the government way more involved in the economy.

krishna-agrawala | Student

I have not come across terms like first and second new deals. However, people do speak of the "Hundred Days" and "Second Hundred Days" two periods of speedy and intensive actions taken under the New Deal Program.

The hundred days refers to the special session of the Congress lasting from March 9, 1933 to June 16, 1933, in which a series of important laws were passed that were intended to provide relief to the needy, give boost to economic activity, and reform financial, business, industrial and agricultural practices.

The second hundred days refers to a period in 1935 when additional laws were passed to further strengthen the achievements flowing from the effects of the original hundred days. The second hundred days did not really differ from the original 100 days. It was actually based on the experience of implementing the original hundred days and built upon it. Accordingly the laws passed during the second hundred days covered many more aspects.

The new deal itself continued well beyond these second hundred days.