In the previous section, you analyzed different New Deal programs based on whom they primarily benefitted. There is another way to classify these programs, and it is as basic as the Three Rs:Interactive popup. Assistance may be required. reliefRelief
Relief programs were meant to get people back to work immediately and provide them with basic needs. Major relief programs included FERA, the CCC, and the WPA. The CCC is a classic example of a relief program. It put over 2.5 million young men (ages 17-23) to work preserving our national parks. The men earned $30 a month, of which $25 went home to their parents. The workers gained valuable job experience and earned money for both themselves and their families. Close Pop Up
Recovery programs were aimed at actually getting the economy started again so that people could be employed by private businesses instead of by the government. The goal of recovery programs was to make relief programs unnecessary. Major recovery programs included the NIRA and the AAA. The AAA is a classic example of a recovery program. It paid farmers not to grow crops in order to reduce surplus food production, which would raise the price of food—helping farmers actually make money on their crops again. Close Pop Up
, andInteractive popup. Assistance may be required. reform Reform
Reform programs were created to avoid another depression and insure citizens against economic disasters. Major reform programs included the SEC, Social Security, the FLSA, and the creation of the FDIC. The FDIC is a classic example of reform efforts. One of the disasters of the Depression was the "run" on the banks that caused banks to fail when they couldn't pay back their depositors—which reduced people's trust in banks. The FDIC provides an ironclad government guarantee that the money a person places in a bank (up to a certain amount) will be safe. Close Pop Up

Click on each term in the previous sentence to learn more. The descriptions below will be heavy on acronyms. You may need to go back to the previous section to remind yourself about each New Deal term.

Check Your Understanding

In your notes, answer the following questions.

  1. Why was the WPA an example of relief?

    Interactive popup. Assistance may be required. Click here to compare your answer. The Works Progress Administration put people of all skill sets to work, from construction workers to artists and musicians. It gave jobs to many people who simply would never have been able to find work during the Depression and provided valuable public services. One of the most famous WPA projects was to assign scholars to travel the country and interview former slaves, recording what their lives were like during those terrible times. Close Pop Up

  2. Why was the NIRA an example of reform?

    Interactive popup. Assistance may be required. Click here to compare your answer. The National Industrial Recovery Act established the National Recovery Administration (NRA), which regulated the prices of goods and services. The NIRA was meant to reform business practices by promoting fair prices for products so that businesses could earn a profit and, in turn, be able to afford to hire workers. Close Pop Up

  3. Why was the SEC an example of reform?

    Click here to compare your answer.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) provided oversight over investment banks and traders on the stock market. The SEC prevented crimes such as insider trading and initiated regulations to prevent the stock market from crashing again. The SEC still regulates stock market trading today. Close Pop Up


Evaluating the Three Rs

The relief programs of the New Deal put many people back to work and created lasting benefits for society through the public works projects. They most likely prevented the Great Depression from being a larger social disaster than it was.

However, the recovery programs did not succeed in restarting the American economic engine. In fact, with so many people in the country lined up on bread lines unable to afford food, the idea of the AAA paying farmers not to grow food so it would be more expensive struck many citizens as perverse. The United States escaped the Great Depression when the government had to call upon all of the country's resources to fight World War II. The Supreme Court would declare the NRA and AAA unconstitutional.

Despite this mixed record, the reform programs remain the most enduring legacy of the New Deal. Social Security, minimum wage laws, and banking and stock market regulations continue to exist and are constantly a source of debate among U.S. leaders.