The New Deal, created and championed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a response to the Great Depression, which crippled the United States in the 1930s. The Depression marked the end of the “Roaring Twenties,” a time of frivolity and excess after World War II. It is a significant period in American history, and every TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ test taker should be familiar with this high emphasis topic
The New Deal addressed the Great Depression through programs that were known as the three “Rs:” Relief, Reform, and Recovery. More specifically, Roosevelt defined the three Rs
- Relief: Immediate action taken to halt economic deterioration
- Recovery: Temporary programs to restart the flow of consumer demand
- Reform: Permanent programs to avoid another depression and insure citizens against economic disasters
As the exhibitioners at the Digital Public Library of America
(DPLA) note, Roosevelt firmly believed that together the three Rs could bring economic stability to the nation. The programs created by the New Deal transformed American federalism by focusing on methods to not only curb the 1930s Depression but to prevent any future depressions from affecting the American public.
Consequently, many of the three Rs programs are still in existence today, including: the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Emergency Relief Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Social Security Administration. These are just some of the programs that Roosevelt and the Deal were responsible for. (For a more detailed list, check out this resource
from the teachers from the Brunswick, Maine school district.)
Each program had specific goals. Some were developed to manage money, from the stock market and banking sector to the individual citizen. Others generated jobs by employing individuals to develop and repair the American transportation infrastructure.
For example, Roosevelt outlined three goals for the relief program, the Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA):
- To be effective
- To provide work for employable people on the relief rolls
- To have a diverse variety of relief programs
According to the DPLA, FERA provided “grants from the federal government to state governments for a variety of projects in fields such as agriculture, the arts, construction and education. Many people who were receiving relief aid were highly trained, skilled workers” who had lost their job because of the Depression. President Roosevelt’s hope was that the whole country would benefit through the employment of these individuals.
Most important for test takers preparing for the TASC Social Studies subtest is the fact that the New Deal laid the foundation of the modern welfare state. As Eric Dodds and Rebecca Kaplan of Time Magazine
note, “the New Deal laid the foundation for the modern welfare state by establishing Aid to Dependent Children in 1935, the first federal program offering cash payments to the poor.” This aid was established through the Social Security Act of 1935.
John E. Hansan, PhD
, elaborates on the aid, writing that it was “a grant program to enable states to provide cash welfare payments for needy children who had been deprived of parental support or care because their father or mother was absent from the home, incapacitated, deceased, or unemployed.” All fifty states offered such aid, and still do. Dodds’s and Kaplan’s article, which focuses on the legacy of President Roosevelt, notes that welfare continues to be an issue today.