Warren Harding/Calvin Coolidge
Business Antitrust laws feebly enforced.
Trade associations created (and encouraged) and used to agree on
standardization of product, publicity campaigns, and united fronts
against other businesses.
Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) came to be dominated by men who
were sympathetic to the railroads.
Esch-Cummins Transportation Act (1920) encouraged private consolidation
of the railroads and guaranteed their profitability.
Farmers Capper-Volstead Act (1921) exempted farmers' marketing cooperatives from
McNary-Haugen Bill (1924-1928) was proposed energetically, but vetoed
twice by Calvin Coolidge. Would have authorized the government to buy up
surpluses and sell them abroad, thus keeping prices high.
Miscellaneous Allowed a "McKinley-style" old order to fall back into place.
Sought to entrench laissez-faire.
Reforms Adkins v. Children's Hospital (1923) invalidated a minimum-wage law for
women; reversed its own ruling in Muller v. Oregon (1908), which had
declared that women deserved special protection in the workplace.
Tariffs Fordney-McCumber Tariff (1922) boosted rates to an average of 38.5%
(from an average of 27% under the Underwood Tariff).
Tariff Commission provided advice to and authorized the president to
reduce or increase duties. Harding and Coolidge were much friendlier to
increases and in six years they authorized thirty-two upward changes and
only five reductions.
Business Norris-La Guardia Anti-Injunction Act (1932) outlawed "yellow dog"
contracts and forbade federal courts from issuing injunctions to
restrain strikes, boycotts, and peaceful picketing.
Asked business to keep production and wages high.
Assured public that money in the bank was safe.
Farmers Agricultural Marketing Act (1929) set up Federal Farm Board; lent money
to organizations seeking to buy, sell, and store agricultural surpluses.
o Grain Stabilization Corporation and Cotton Stabilization
Corporation (1930) tried to buy up surpluses to help keep prices
up but were swamped by overproduction.
Shrank from government handouts, fearing that it would weaken the
Miscellaneous national fiber. Had deep faith in the industrial machine.
Tariffs Hawley-Smoot Tariff (1930) boosted rates to an average of nearly 60%
(from 38.5% under the Fordney-McCumber Tariff).
Welfare Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) became a government lending
bank, designed to provide indirect relief by assisting other agencies.
But to preserve individualism, there would be no loans to individuals.
At last recommended that immense sums be used for public works. Greatest
of these was the Hoover Dam.
Fought the Muscle Shoals Bill because it would have put the government
in competition with private electric-power companies.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Business Declared a nationwide banking holiday so that he could later reopen them
on a sounder basis.
Emergency Banking Relief Act (1933) allowed the president to regulate
banking transactions and foreign exchange and to reopen solvent banks.
Glass-Steagall Banking Reform Act created the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation, which insured individual deposits up to $5000 (later
National Recovery Administration (NRA):
o Put a ceiling on hours so more people could work, put floor on
o Labor was guaranteed the right to organize and bargain
collectively through representatives of their own choosing.
o Banned the "yellow dog" contract.
o Placed some restrictions on child labor.
Truth in Securities Act required promoters to give sworn information
regarding the soundness of their stocks and bonds.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (1934) designed as a watchdog
Wagner or National Labor Relations Act (1935) created the National Labor
Relations Board for administrative purposes and reasserted the right of
labor to engage in self-organization and collective bargaining.
Fair Labor Standards Act (Wages and Hours Bill) (1938) forced industries
involved in interstate commerce to set up minimum wage and maximum hour
levels. Restricted child labor.
Labor unionization thrived.
Farmers Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) made available millions of dollars to
help farmers meet their mortgages. Was to establish parity prices for
basic commodities. Parity meant the price set for a product that gave it
the same real value in purchasing power that it had earlier (1909-1914).
Tried to eliminate surpluses by paying growers to plant less. The money
need to pay them would be gotten by raising taxes the processors of farm
Welfare Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided employment in government
camps for about three million young men, who worked at reforestation,
firefighting, flood control, and swamp drainage.
Federal Emergency Relief Act sought immediate relief by creating the
Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), which granted about
three billion dollars to the states for direct dole payments or
preferably for wages on work projects.
Works Progress Administration (WPA) spent about $11 billion on thousands
of buildings, bridges, and roads. Also found part-time jobs for
students; commissioned works for artists.
Public Works Administration (PWA): Sought long-range recovery through
public works, such as buildings and roads. One spectacular achievement
was the Grand Coulee Dam.
Resettlement Administration (1935) charged with the task of removing
farmers to better land.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) (1933) determined to discover precisely
how much the production of electricity cost, so that it could test the
fairness of the rates charged by private companies. Provided full
employment, cheap electric power, low-cost housing, reforestation,
improved navigation, and flood control.
Social Security Act (1935) provided federal-state unemployment
insurance. Specified categories of retired workers to receive regular
payments. Financed by a payroll tax on both employers and employees.
Business Government takeover.
Welfare Charles Coughlin wanted a guaranteed national income; wanted to
nationalize the banks.
Huey P. Long publicized his program ("Share Our Wealth") to take money
from the rich and give to the poor. Also proposed an income cap; any
money earned over the cap of five million would have gone to the poor.
Dr. Francis E. Townsend publicized a plan to give seniors who were sixty
years old or older two-hundred dollars a month, as long as the money was
spent within the month.
Upton Sinclair's "EPIC" would have taken unused private property to give
to the poor.