The Influence of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and His New Deal on the Federal Government

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From the past all the way until now, the federal government has gone through many changes, especially during the Great Depression. Before the Great Depression, the federal government did not do much to help the suffering economy. However, after the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he implemented many new policies and reforms that gave the federal government more power. And with greater power came greater responsibility, the federal government started to take part in the nation’s economy and the wellbeing of its citizens. Some of the changes even lasted till present, such as some of the many associations and organizations created to help those in need during the hard times.

Previous to the Great Depression, the federal government had little power and were not expected to steer the economy nor provide the people. Thus, it did not interfere with any of the big businesses and almost entirely stayed out of social welfare, leaving most of that to the states. The federal government primarily saw its role as only to legislate and enforce the laws and to provide for the army if war were to break out. Therefore, people generally view it to be more or less laissez-faire, meaning it just simply let the economy be. It was expected to just stay out of the way and let the economy rise and fall as it like, and eventually, it would fix itself and bring prosperity back to the United States once again. Little or nothing was done to help people financially. “If the people were too old to work, they needed to rely on family. If a bank failed, its depositors were out of luck” (Pohnpei, 397). Churches and charities were looked to help the needy and ill. Citizens would look to local government if they ever needed help. However, these all changed after the New Deal.

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March 4, 1933 was the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated, and it was after that that the role of the federal government started to go through drastic changes. Unlike previous presidents and government, Roosevelt wasn’t able to stand and do nothing while the nation suffers. He passed multiple aggressive reform systems and policies with the New Deal as the most well-known out of them all. Under Roosevelt, the “federal government assumed new and powerful roles in the nation’s economy, in its corporate life, in the health, welfare, and wellbeing of its citizens” (Leuchtenburg). The federal government started to make efforts to help the local government and citizenry. Many Historians even view the New Deal as the beginning of the social welfare system of the federal government. For instance, there was a series of domestic programs such as the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), which provided 500 million US dollars for state and city relief operations, and the Civil Works Administration (CWA), which mainly served to provide localities fund to operate ‘make-work’ jobs, jobs that give men something to do so they could receive pay, and eventually became the largest employer of the nation. In addition, there were multiple other corporations, organizations, and administrations created during this period of time, including the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Social Security System, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These newly formed institutions served to offer jobs, protect citizens from losing all their savings because of bank run, employ people, provide water, and even provide protection to investors and maintain an orderly, fair market.

To sum it up, under Roosevelt and his New Deal, the federal government greatly expanded during the great depression. Even till after the Great Depression, many changes and impacts of the federal government still lasted until today. One of the best examples are the institutions previously mentioned before. Other than the WPA, the newly formed organizations still remained active even till today. For example, the SEC, which originally planned to restore consumer confidence in the stock markets and regulate brokerage firms and stock exchanges, still remains active and now functions to “ensure that all investors, whether large institutions or private individuals...have access to certain basic facts about an investment prior to buying it, and so long as they hold it” (Hadley, Debbie.). The TVA, like many other organizations, also managed to survive as many New Deal programs faded. It originally focused on building dams to control flood, develop fertilizers, restore wildlife habitat, produce hydroelectric power, and educate farmers ways to improve food production and pest control. Up till now, the TVA still provides “power to over 9 million people and oversees a combination of hydroelectric, coal-fired, and nuclear power plants” (Hadley, Debbie.). Even though the Great Depression is now over, many of the organizations still last until today in the effort of preventing it from happening again.

In conclusion, under the guidance of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the federal government was able to transform from previously powerless to a now powerful group of people that plays an important in the national economy. Even though the Great Depression is now in the past, many of the changes and institutions created back then still lasted until today, hoping to prevent it from ever happening again.

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