Was Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal Program overall a success or failure?

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paceke | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Whether the New Deal was a success or a failure is largely a subjective opinion and will often be heavily based on an individual's personal political views. As objectively as possible, here's a by the points break down.

FDR had three primary goals when he proposed and implemented the New Deal: relief, recovery, and reform.

The New Deal sought to offer relief to the unemployment and related issues that stemmed from the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression. With unemployment topping 25% at one point, in combination with a famine that reduced crop amounts in the mid-west by up to 60%, many families were broke and on the verge of starving. The New Deal offered food programs as well as created agencies to give unemployed workers jobs through the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration. In this way, the New Deal was very successful in the short term however most of the jobs were temporary and true unemployment turn around would not come about until the manufacturing ramp up that coincided with the United States' entry into WWII.

As for recovery, this category can more easily be classified as failure in that the New Deal failed to end the Great Depression. The stock market remained down and economic recovery related to gross national product and exports remained low until the start of WWII. While more people were working, investor confidence and bank loans for new businesses remained exceptionally down.

The New Deal can be more heavily classified as a success when it comes to reform. The economic and banking reforms that were pushed through Congress as part of the New Deal, such as securities regulations and modifications to the gold standard, combined with the economic boom that arose from the success in WWII led to what is often known as the "Golden Age of American Capitalism" in the 1950's and 1960's.

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