Who attacked the New Deal and why?
There were two main sources of criticism for the New Deal. There was criticism from the right and criticism from the left.
The New Deal tremendously expanded the scope of government intervention in the US economy. It made the government more involved than it ever had been before. Not surprisingly, this caused a great deal of anger from people who were staunchly conservative. To them, the New Deal was essentially socialism being imposed on the United States. They were very upset at what they saw as the introduction of socialism.
However, the New Deal also came under attack from the left. The New Deal, people on the left felt, did not go nearly far enough. There were many people who advocated for more radical changes to be made. There was, for example, Dr. Francis Townsend. He wanted the government to give really large pensions to all elderly Americans so as to stimulate demand. Huey Long in Louisiana had a “Share Our Wealth” proposal that would have redistributed income on a massive scale. These were much more radical proposals than President Roosevelt was willing to support.
Thus, the New Deal was attacked from both sides of the political spectrum.
OPPOSITION TO NEW DEAL:
- Claimed that Roosevelt was behaving like a dictator. Compared him to Hitler and Stalin. They said that FDR was making the government too powerful. Hated the way FDR gained control over the Supreme Court, making it powerless.
- Told that TVA and NRA were like communist economic planning of Soviet Union. Republicans strongly thought that schemes such as the TVA and NRA were creating unfair competition for the private companies.
- Believed that Social Security would make Americans lazy and dependent on government help. Thus, they thought that their idea of “rugged individualism” was getting completely destroyed. They thought that FDR was destroying the American way of life.
- Said that huge money was wasted. They believed that these jobs were unnecessary i.e. jobs for the sake of jobs. The said that the jobs were artificially created by the government by putting in loads of money.
- They also objected to the fact that the New Deal was taking high taxes from the wealthy Americans. They believed that the wealthy were wealthy because they had worked hard. They did not like FDR’s interference in the matters of rich businessmen.
- Government interference in their affairs
- Angry at trade unions
- Angry at idea of minimum wages
- Objected to TVA
- Criticized NRA as difficult to administer
- Group of business leaders formed Liberty League to oppose New Deal
- Angry at higher taxes
- Accused Roosevelt of having betrayed their class
- Thought FDR’s policies had taken their power
Governor of Louisiana
Proposed “Share our Wealth” scheme
Wanted all personal fortunes over dollar 5 million to be confiscated
Shared among American families
Each given between dollar 4000 to dollar 5000
Promised a minimum wage
Houses for war veterans
Completely free education
Proposed everyone over 60 be given monthly pension of dollar 200
Provided they give up their jobs
And use this amount fully
Many old people liked this idea and 7000 Townsend Clubs were formed across US
Accused FDR of failure in tackling problems of poor
His ideas were rather confused
His audience had faded by 1940
- Ruled NIRA unconstitutional because constitution did not allow President to make laws on businesses
- Ruled AAA illegal because regulations about agriculture could only be made by individual state governments
- Six of the nine SC judges were over 70
- After election in 1936, FDR asked Congress to give him power to appoint six new SC judges
- This alarmed even FDR’s supporters who accused him of wanting to rule USA as a dictator
- Democrats thought he would get too much power
- Overwhelming opposition from Congress
- FDR rejected his plan
- Still, judges were shaken and few retired voluntarily
- New judges were less hostile to New Deal
- Replaced Wagner Act and Social Security Act were declared constitutional
- Said that Federal Government was taking away their powers