Why did the New Deal arouse criticism from both the right and the left?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Critics on both the left and right labeled the New Deal fascist. On the left, critics condemned the control of the New Deal by big business interests and thought it stood for capitalistic ideals. However, on the right, critics took exception to the New Deal’s control of business and economy. They believed the government’s involvement in the economy as per the New Deal’s propositions was too much. The American Liberty League for instance, termed the New Deal agenda dictatorial. Also, critics on the right such as the conservatives argued that the New Deal was a “socialist” reform that would interfere with the economic wellbeing of the country as the government was focused on activist programs. On the left, liberals and radicals criticized the New Deal for not providing enough relief and failing to redistribute political and economic power to marginalized groups.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The New Deal aroused criticism from the right for being excessively "socialist" and from the left for not being liberal enough.

Before the beginning of the New Deal, the federal government had never really done much to get involved in the economy.  Conservatives liked this because they believed in laissez-faire economics.  When President Roosevelt started the New Deal, they felt that he was pushing the US towards a socialistic, centrally-planned economy.

On the left, critics felt that the New Deal did not do enough.  They felt that the government should do more to directly help poor people.  Two examples of this were Huey Long's "Share the Wealth" proposal and Francis Townsend's proposal to give money to retired people to spend.

Thus, Roosevelt's policies were simultaneously attacked for being too extreme and not extreme enough.

Read the study guide:
FDR: The New Deal Years, 1933-1937

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