The New Deal represented a very significant shift in thinking about the role our government should play in the economy, especially when difficult times occurred. Throughout the 1920s, a decade when Republicans were elected to the presidency, the prevailing attitude was one of laissez-faire. This meant that the government should...
have a very limited role in dealing with our economy. There would be few government rules and regulations, allowing businesses to have a great deal of freedom.
When the Great Depression began, this philosophy continued under the presidency of Herbert Hoover. Many people believed that things would eventually work themselves out on their own with little government help. As the Great Depression worsened, more people began to change their thinking. However, many Republicans were opposed to increasing the role of the federal government in dealing with the economy.
The New Deal clearly represented the viewpoint that the government must do something when difficult times occurred. There were programs that established rules and regulations on the banking industry and on the investment industry. The Glass-Steagall Act and the Securities Act were examples of these programs. There were many government programs that created jobs. The CCC, the CWA, the PWA, and the WPA were examples of government programs that created jobs.
Republicans were opposed to this significantly larger role of the federal government. They also were concerned about the increased debt that our country faced. The New Deal financed these programs through deficit spending. The Republicans were uncomfortable with this. The Republicans also felt that these programs didn’t reduce the harsh effects of the Great Depression as much as they should have reduced them. They were concerned that all this money was being spent, but the unemployment rate wasn’t dropping as much as it should have. They believed the recovery was too slow. The Republicans, especially business owners, were concerned that some of the New Deal programs gave too much power to workers and their unions. They were concerned about the number of strikes that occurred after the passage of the Wagner Act. Therefore, they believed that the increased role of the government, the increased government spending, and the increased number of government rules and regulations weren’t having the desired effect of bringing the Great Depression to an end.