How did Franklin Roosevelt's philosophy differ from Herbert Hoover's?

Franklin Roosevelt's philosophy was more liberal than Herbert Hoover's. Roosevelt launched broad, well-funded federal programs to revive the American economy, whereas Hoover only aimed to support businesses.

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Franklin Roosevelt's philosophy of government represented a sharp break with the past. While Hoover is often vilified for not doing enough to stave off the effects of the Great Depression, he was behaving within what was the normal understanding of the role of the federal government at that time.

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Franklin Roosevelt's philosophy of government represented a sharp break with the past. While Hoover is often vilified for not doing enough to stave off the effects of the Great Depression, he was behaving within what was the normal understanding of the role of the federal government at that time.

Up until Roosevelt, the role of the federal government was understood (with a very few exceptions) to be to handle national defense and administer the laws of the land. Social welfare programs by and large were not part of the scope of the federal system. If Minnesota had a high unemployment rate and people there were going hungry, that was a problem for the state government to solve. If New York had a lot of poor elderly people with no money eating out of garbage cans, that was their problem.

FDR's philosophy completely reenvisioned the federal government's role. He advocated for big government programs to be coordinated in Washington to systemize aid and get the help to people and businesses that they needed to survive and start over. He knew the states couldn't do it, because they were broke. He knew the business sector couldn't do it, because it was broke.

This new federal system proved to be more efficient than piecemeal efforts by the states. FDR then worked to put in a permanent safety net so that the federal government would always be there to catch the economy when it went into free fall. He wanted to ensure that it would never crash so totally again. He wanted the average American to have what he and other rich people had: the knowledge that even if things went bad for them, they wouldn't starve, wouldn't be homeless, and wouldn't be crushed and forced to beg for the necessities of life.

Hoover, however, adhered to his "hands off" understanding of the federal government's role in social welfare after the 1929 crash. He expected the business sector to bounce back and pull the national economy up with it. While he did try to pump some federal money into propping up the economy, his philosophical approach was such that his attempts were the proverbial band-aids on deep wounds. He was a good man, but not a visionary, and in the 1930s, the country needed a visionary.

Roosevelt came into office boldly, willing to try almost any experiment to save the economy. He fully grasped that it was near death and that normal methods were not going to revive it. He grasped that the business sector was so flattened that it could not jumpstart a recovery. He forever changed the way we view the federal government's role in the economy.

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Hoover, like his predecessors throughout the 1920s, was a believer in laissez-faire economics and that government should not intervene within the nation's economy. This mindset is reflected in his response to the Great Depression. While he did allocate funds for federal building projects (such as the Hoover Dam), he tended to believe that government's efforts would be better served in collaboration with American businesses. To this end, he would set up the RFC, which provided loans to businesses as a means of economic support. From that perspective, one can argue that Hoover did intervene to some degree in the economy, but that intervention remained limited when compared with Roosevelt's vision, and he largely had the intention of supporting the private sector so that it could recover on its own.

Roosevelt, by contrast, was far more liberal, envisioning a far more active and energetic government response to the challenges of the Depression. For Roosevelt, the government had to provide leadership and take the initiative, both in providing relief and providing meaningful reform. To that end, Roosevelt's administration showed more initiative in creating public works and employment programs and also dramatically increased the government's role in regulating US economic activity. To conclude, these two presidents had dramatically different approaches and mindsets in terms of how they responded to the Great Depression.

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The differences between President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s philosophies and those of Herbert Hoover can be seen clearly in how they handled the Great Depression. The world together with the American economy experienced downturns less than a year into Hoover’s presidential term. The President hoped that the situation was going to improve but when the economy edged into the depression, Hoover developed and employed a number of strategies to manage the situation. Hoover did not believe in direct influence by the federal government on market prices or controlling businesses. The President rejected proposals to manipulate the value of the currency since he viewed such strategies as leaning towards socialism. Hoover believed it was possible to improve the economy without interfering with American individualism and this position also rejected direct aid to citizens. His approach to the situation was received with much dissatisfaction among the population who instead voted in Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt promised a different approach through the “New Deal”. He instituted direct funding for most of the projects and believed in deficit funding instead of volunteerism as was the case with Hoover. In summary, Roosevelt and Hoover differed majorly in their financial philosophies especially with regards to jump-starting the American economy during the depression.

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The differences between Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's views on economics and social welfare exemplified, to a large extent, the distinctions that have long differentiated conservatives and liberals in the United States.  Hoover's views were representative of those who advocated for the primacy of free enterprise and for a minimal role for the federal government in setting economic policy and regulating business.  He was a firm believer in self-sufficiency and in what is known as the laissez faire school of thought, which seeks to place firm limits on government intervention in the marketplace.  By the time of Roosevelt's election, however, the effects of the Great Depression no longer lent themselves to the kind of philosophical approach represented in the person of President Hoover.  President Roosevelt, in contrast to his predecessor, recognized that the role of the federal government had to increase in order to help the country begin to emerge from the depths to which it had sank after the stock market crash of 1929.  Roosevelt's New Deal represented a massive intervention in the economy and in financial matters through its regulatory policies and public works projects, for example, the Tennessee Valley Authority.  As important, Roosevelt's support for the establishment of the Social Security Administration represented a major departure from Hoover's belief in self-sufficiency.  

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The major difference was that Roosevelt felt that government spending to help people who were in economic trouble was much more acceptable than Hoover thought it was.  Hoover believed in the idea of "rugged individualism" in which people are largely responsible for their own welfare.  If people got in economic trouble, private charity was the best way to help them.  The government should not be in the business of helping people financially.  Roosevelt had different beliefs.  At least in a crisis as great as the Depression, he believed, government should be willing to step in and help people who had become poor.  Roosevelt's philosophy, then, was much more liberal than that of Hoover.

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