I'm doing a debate in my History class, and I have to argue FDR's New Deal programs were a success.
In 1931, 20,000 Americans committed suicide. 20,000 people, shocked by the Great Depression, decided life was not worth it anymore.
The American people had hit a slump. In 1933, 13 million were unemployed and GDP was 39% below average. By the end of the Great Depression, 90,000 businesses had failed.
This seemed like an impossible hole to dig out of. Yet by 1942, a mere 9 years later, America had made a full recovery. Real GDP was above pre-Depression levels as early as 1939. When did this miraculous recovery start? 1933, the same year FDR took office.
The end of the Great Depression is directly linked to FDR’s New Deal programs, which helped millions of Americans. For example, the Works Progress Administration, which employed Americans for construction projects, such as building airports, roads and schools. In the 8 years it operated, the WPA helped 9 million Americans. If that was the only thing FDR did, that would still have had an enormous impact. But he did more.
FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps, an organization that paid young men $30 to do various nature improvement projects around the country. The CCC helped 2 million people. Not only was he helping the ordinary worker, he also employed artists through the Federal Theater Project, the Federal Art Project, and the Federal Writers project. He passed the National Labor Recovery Act, which prohibited companies from discriminating against union members. Workers were now legally allowed to band together and collectively bargain for higher wages. He increased taxes on the rich and funnelled that money to the suffering lower classes. Before Bernie Sanders was even born, he was fighting for the economic rights of the common man. Because of FDR’s intensive efforts to help the economy, GDP rose 9% per year from 1933 to 1937. As Charles Fusco, a worker during the Great Depression put it, "Roosevelt was a damn good man”.