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Roosevelt begins his fireside chat of May 7 by reviewing the events of the banking crisis that was raging when he took office. This was also the subject of his first fireside chat. He explains that he felt drastic action was necessary to deal with the crisis, which otherwise would have been even more catastrophic:
It was clear that mere appeals from Washington for confidence and the mere lending of more money to shaky institutions could not stop this downward course. A prompt program applied as quickly as possible seemed to me not only justified but imperative to our national security.
Roosevelt then moves to a description of the policies of the Hundred Days, also known as the First New Deal. He is careful to claim that these programs, which he describes as "well-considered and conservative," have largely been approved and funded by Congress, and that he is not arrogating any powers to the executive in the process. The programs he describes range from the Agricultural Adjustment Act to mortgage relief legislation to the legalization of beer sales in some states, and all are framed as part of a necessary effort to bring about relief and recovery.
Roosevelt proceeds into a rationale for government intervention and regulation, citing an example:
It is probably true that ninety per cent of the cotton manufacturers would agree to eliminate starvation wages, would agree to stop long hours of employment, would agree to stop child labor, would agree to prevent an overproduction that would result in unsalable surpluses. But, what good is such an agreement if the other ten per cent of cotton manufacturers pay starvation wages, require long hours, employ children in their mills and turn out burdensome surpluses?...Here is where government comes in. Government ought to have the right...to enforce this agreement by the authority of government.
Using this fairly simple example, Roosevelt defended himself against criticism that he was already facing that the New Deal represented an unwarranted and anti-American intervention in business. He concludes with the other two major points of the address, a defense of his measures to stop the outflow of American gold to foreign markets, and an explanation of foreign policy initiatives. The crux of the speech, however, is a recap and a defense of the New Deal programs initiated to combat the effects of the Great Depression.
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