The New Deal Questions and Answers

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What is the positive and negative legacy of the New Deal programs still active today?

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Michael Koren eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There were many programs that were established as part of the New Deal. Some of these programs still exist today. These programs have a positive and a negative legacy, depending on a person’s point of view.

One program still existing today is the Social Security program. This program has positively impacted many people. Many seniors depend upon the money they receive from Social Security to pay their bills and to maintain their standard of living. People with disabilities also depend upon the money they receive from Social Security. However, some people believe that Social Security is an untouchable and an unsustainable program. Because so many people depend on Social Security, it has become virtually impossible to reduce or to modify the program. Since people are living longer, it is becoming more difficult to sustain the program financially.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation protects our savings accounts from bank failures. People can deposit money into their bank accounts and know that the money will be there, even if a bank fails. This program was designed to reassure investors that their bank accounts were safe. People who believe the government should have a limited role in the economy don’t like programs that give the government a more active role in the economy and in business activities. This program would be an example of a program that increases the government’s role in the economy and in the practices of businesses.

The Securities Exchange Act created the Securities and Exchange Commission. This commission monitors the activities that occur in the stock market. The commission controls some investment practices. This commission was created to prevent fraud and to monitor activities that take place in the stock market. It was established to help prevent the conditions that led to the stock market crash in 1929 from occurring again in the future. Some people dislike many government rules and regulations. The Securities and Exchange Commission creates various rules that restrict what activities that can and can’t be done in the stock market. For some people, this gives the government too much control over business matters and too much power when dealing with our economy.

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Many of the New Deal programs created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt are still around today. For example, Social Security still provides payments to elderly people, and our bank accounts are still protected by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). The Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, is still in charge of policing Wall Street to make sure banks and other financial institutions do not violate the law (though the vigor with which they investigate Wall Street varies at times). In addition, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) still provides loans to homeowners, and there are several other New Deal agencies still in existence today. The positive legacy of these institutions is that they provide a safety net for Americans who are the most vulnerable, such as the elderly, and they are, at least theoretically, supposed to prevent another great economic collapse such as the Great Depression.

Many people do not like these programs, however, because they believe that they have made our federal government too large and too powerful. In addition, the cost of some of these programs, such as Social Security, is enormous, meaning that people have to finance these programs through high taxes. About one quarter of the federal budget goes to Social Security payments. 

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