The New Deal | Michael A. Hiltzik

Summary of: The New Deal: A Modern History
By: Michael A. Hiltzik

Introduction

Step back in time to the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt and witness the creation of the New Deal in ‘The New Deal: A Modern History’ by Michael A. Hiltzik. This book summary will guide you through Roosevelt’s multifaceted approach to addressing the Great Depression. You’ll explore the ins and outs of his policies, such as the bank holiday, the inception of the FDIC and the Civilian Conservation Corps, the push for electrification in impoverished areas, and the establishment of Social Security. However, not all of his policies were success stories, as you’ll also delve into controversial programs like the Agricultural Adjustment Act and Roosevelt’s miscalculations with the gold scheme. Get ready to witness the triumphs, failures, and lasting effects of the New Deal era.

Roosevelt’s Presidential Campaign

In the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt won the Democratic nomination for president in 1932. His campaign, against Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover, promised a reversal of laissez-faire policies and a focus on bold government intervention to tackle the country’s economic crisis. Roosevelt’s memorable inaugural address, with its famous phrase “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” set a tone of confident leadership. His swift actions as president included a bank holiday to halt cash withdrawals, followed by the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to restore trust in the banking system. Roosevelt’s presidency would be characterized by his grip on the popular imagination and the vast expansion of federal power to address the nation’s problems.

Roosevelt’s New Deal Programs

After stabilizing the banking sector, President Roosevelt implemented programs to revive the economy during the Great Depression. The Economy Act, aimed at reducing government expenditure, led to a decrease in wages and veterans’ benefits. However, Roosevelt quickly realized his mistake and abandoned his conservative fiscal policies. He legalized the sale of alcohol, created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide employment opportunities, and established the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation to stabilize the housing market. Another program, the Tennessee Valley Authority, aimed to bring electricity to impoverished regions. Despite initial opposition, these New Deal programs brought significant changes to the country, reshaping the Tennessee Valley and addressing issues in the securities industry.

Roosevelt’s New Deal

In the midst of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated the “New Deal” program, an array of policies and initiatives aimed at reviving the US economy through governmental intervention. While some of the programs were lauded as successes, others were poorly executed, leaving many uncomfortable and causing dissent among business leaders and within the administration. This passage explores some of the initiatives that proved problematic, including the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and the short-lived gold price manipulation scheme. Despite opposition and criticism, Roosevelt continued to push forward with his programs, leading to a truculent populism and a constant opposition to subsequent New Deal initiatives.

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