President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal

1087 words - 4 pages

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal: The Glass-Stegall Banking Reform Act, The Federal Emergency Relief Act and Social Security

Economic policy, like the laws that define its parameters, seems to ebb and flow with the indifference of a coastal tide. In a increasingly idealistic and ever-faster changing world, by what measure are the most monumental acts of public law found to stand the test of time, and take their place amongst the immortal chapters of human history on the order of women’s suffrage and the advent of democracy? I assert that it is not by their immediate implications, so relevant to their times but antiquated by the changing circumstances of the human race, but impact that they have on how the public relates to its government and how they overcome predispositions about the role of federal authority in the private matters of its citizens. Within the scope of the New Deal programs championed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, three distinct measures stand apart in this regard:
The First and most important of Roosevelt’s recovery programs was also, perhaps, the one that carried the most far-reaching implications. In the Glass-Steagall Banking Reform Act of 1933, Roosevelt established the Federal Insurance Deposit Program (FDIC). This new entity would insure bank customer deposits up to the amount of $5,500, which was later raised to in successive amounts to, eventually, the levels of coverage we enjoy today under the same program. Usually something on the order of $500,000. The immediate consequence of the act was to provide a safety net beneath the very real risk of bank failures that had hanging eerily over the heads of American citizens since the “… ‘wildcat days’ of Andrew Jackson.” (829) Aside from the immediate aim of restoring public confidence in the American banking system, however, the act sought after a systemic overhaul of the entire US economy in a way that is still very much relevant. By getting Americans to put their personal assets into public banks, Roosevelt was able to effectually nudge the country away from the antiquated gold standard and towards an economy based on dynamic currency and consumer confidence. Indeed, under the Banking Reform Act of 1933, bank closings fell from 4004 to 57 in just one year, and to zero just a year after that. (829) Thereafter, Roosevelt aggressively pursued an aggressive campaign to acquire all private holdings of gold, the end state of which was supposed to be an inflated currency as the price of gold rose sharply with a dwindling private supply. With more and more printed currency in circulation, Roosevelt’s aim was to put more buying power into the hands of private consumers. While Gold prices eventually leveled off and the president was more or less obligated to return the country to a system akin to the gold standard four years later, this program still set an important precedent that we still see in practice today as our nation’s leadership attempt to...

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