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FDR is not guilty of attempting to eliminate the traditional capitalist or free market system because he exerted government control on the economy to prevent further debt and damage due to the Great Depression. He created the New Plan in hopes to provide a way to not only save the banking system but to prevent occurrences like this in the future. One of FDR’s big accomplishments in effort to restore the US economy to a state of normalcy was Glass Steagall legislation, a way to separate banks into commercial and investment. In doing so, Roosevelt was able to more evenly distribute power among the banks because prior to the US Banking Act, the majority of the power in the banking industry rested with the big banks like National City Bank. Big banks like this would manipulate stockholders by frequently raising and lowering the price as it was convenient to them, without thinking of the long term effects on the economy and banking industry as a whole. By creating two distinct types of banks, FDR hoped to begin to restore the people’s trust in banks while preventing circumstances like the Great Depression from happening again. While he did, in fact, affect the capitalist free market, he did so for the greater good of the people. The FDIC was also created by Roosevelt to help the US climb out of the debt that send us deep into the depression while continuing to restore the people’s confidence and trust in the banks. By creating public projects for citizens to find work, the government was able to put more money into the system to aleve some of the debt. The main purpose of the FDIC is to insure bank deposits to avoid people losing their life savings like many did during the Great Depression. While FDR did make changes to the structure of the capitalist free market system, the changes made it more competitive between the big and small banks, supporting what true capitalism really is.
Roosevelt is also being tried for concentrating too much power in the executive branch and abusing presidential power. However, FDR is not guilty of this charge because any degree of government intervention would seem excessive at the time as the last three presidents before Roosevelt were Republicans, supporting a laissez-faire government. For a little over a decade before Roosevelt, the president had not intervened to the extent to which FDR did, they supported a much more passive role in the government. By taking a more active role, he was able to make improvements to the economy by taking away power from some of the large companies that dominated the economy. In addition, he was able to begin to restore the people’s confidence and trust in the government by creating associations like the WPA or Worker’s Progress Association, giving jobs to countless unemployed Americans. In FDR’s inaugural address, he stated “our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources” (FDR’s inaugural address). While the laissez-faire government style worked for a period of time, in a dire situation like this where the country is in debt, action must be taken. FDR took action by explaining to the people in his first public speech as president that he plans to take measures to alleviate the financial stress plaguing much of the population by creating jobs. From the year 1933, when FDR first became president, to the year 1938, the unemployment rate dropped 9%, resulting in thousands of Americans being employed and beginning to pay off debt. In addition to the WPA, FDR also devised the Social Security Act, which provided support for groups of people that needed it like the elderly, the disabled, struggling mothers and children, and the unemployed. By taking action, the government was able to introduce a payroll tax that could come to positively impact much of the US population that had formerly struggled to survive. All of the actions taken by FDR can be justified by the necessary and proper clause in the US Constitution that allowed him to temporarily increase executive power as desperate times call for desperate measures, therefore, on account of concentrating too much power in the executive branch, he is innocent.
Finally, FDR is not guilty of failing to end the Great Depression through New Deal legislation because he introduced several new programs that effectively began the long road to recovery from the Great Depression. FDR began with the bank holiday which allowed for banks to be reviewed and reformed before they could be opened again. In addition to this, through Glass Steagall legislation he was able to insure the people’s deposits to avoid the loss of life savings as many had before the New Deal programs. This was one of the first steps taken to help mend the broken trust between the people and banks as it had been broken when people lost their money during the Great Depression. In another aspect of the New Deal, FDR was able to put many Americans back to work with his creation of the Civil Works Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Works Progress Administration. Each of these created short term and long term solutions to unemployment in the US at the time. Additionally, he created the Tennessee Valley Authority, National Recovery Administration and Agricultural Adjustment Act which also helped the economy return to a state of normalcy. Furthermore, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Established the National Labor Relations board, also known as the Wagner Act, in order to protect the rights of workers, specifically the rights they had previously lacked. This allowed them to organize labor unions, collectively bargain, and go on strike if they felt as though their needs were not being met. After the first of FDR’s fireside chats, he received several letters in the mail about how people felt a sense of relief and reassurance that things were going to be okay, now that FDR is actively trying to fix the issues at hand, specifically with the New Deal. He received one letter in particular from a man named J. F. Bando and he states that “as I listened to the president’s broadcast, I felt that he walked into my home, sat down and in plain and forceful language explained to me how he was tackling the job I and my fellow citizens gave him. I thought what a splendid thing it would be if he could find time to do that occasionally. Needless to say, such forceful, direct and honest action commands the respect of all Americans” (J.F. Brando letter). This really hits home how FDR hadn’t implemented everything he would come to implement but what he had already done had touched the lives of so many people because for the first time in a while, they felt hope and thought maybe everything was going to be okay. By looking at things on a large scale like FDR did when he said: “Your money in the bank is safe; farmers are no longer in deep distress and have greater purchasing power; danger of security speculation have been minimized; national income is almost 50% higher than in 1932; and the government has an established and accepted responsibility for relief” (FDR during fireside chat). By taking more control and responsibility, FDR was able to begin to end the Great Depression, making him not guilty of charge three.
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