What were the primary criticisms of the New Deal during Roosevelt’s administration?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination as its presidential candidate, Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised "a new deal for the American people," addressing a population still suffering in the depths of the Great Depression. Right after the election, he launched into an ambitious series of programs that would profoundly change...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

When he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination as its presidential candidate, Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised "a new deal for the American people," addressing a population still suffering in the depths of the Great Depression. Right after the election, he launched into an ambitious series of programs that would profoundly change the role that the federal government played in the welfare of its citizens.

These programs included reforms of the banking system, projects to provide jobs for unemployed citizens, relief for struggling agricultural sectors, empowerment for exploited workers, and pensions for the elderly and disabled. While FDR's efforts stimulated the economy and gave hope to the millions of Americans adversely affected by the Depression, they also provoked a significant amount of criticism.

One of the major criticisms of the New Deal by conservatives was that it unconstitutionally increased the power of the federal government. In fact, in the beginning, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court ruled against several New Deal programs, and FDR wasn't able to get them passed until there were more liberal judges in the court. The New Deal also added significantly to the federal debt. According to critics, it created an enormous bureaucracy that suffered from inevitable inefficiency and hindered the free enterprise of business.

While conservative opponents criticized the New Deal for going too far, critics on the left opposed it for not going far enough. The leftists thought that, as a part of the New Deal, Roosevelt should nationalize the banks, railroads, and other institutions.

Many felt that, despite progress, the New Deal was unable to end the Great Depression. Although FDR's reforms had some effect, the Depression continued, workers protested, and people suffered. The economy did not fully recover until American industry was stimulated by the entry of the United States into World War II.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team