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Second New Deal


The Second New Deal was the name given to a series of federal programs passed by Congress between 1935 and 1938 to counteract the Great Depression. Several of the first New Deal programs proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (19331945) had earlier been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Roosevelt's Second New Deal included higher taxes for the rich, stricter regulations for private utilities, and increased subsidies for rural electrification. Three federal acts formed the heart of the Second New Deal. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, also known as the Wagner Act, established a set of fair employment standards and guaranteed the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain with management through union representatives. The Social Security Act of 1935 created a retirement fund, unemployment insurance, and welfare grants for local distribution, including aid for dependent children. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was the final significant piece of the Second New Deal. It prescribed the maximum hours employees could be required to work without being paid overtime and also prescribed the minimum wage they could earn.

Second New Deal programs fared better before the Supreme Court than did their predecessors. Fueled by his decisive victory in the 1936 presidential election, Roosevelt began his second term by proposing a "court packing" plan that would have allowed him to increase the size of the nation's high court by adding justices with a disposition favorable to his programs. Although Congress rejected the plan, the Supreme Court got the message, as the nine Justices began validating the constitutionality of more federal legislation. With the onset of World War II (19391945) America's attention turned from domestic policy to international affairs, and the president's New Deal programs faded into the background of an economy mobilizing for military production.

See also: Fair Labor Standards Act, Great Depression, National Labor Relations Act, New Deal, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Social Security Act

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