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Presidents of America: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan

By rparmar01 May 04, 2013 1190 Words
Presidents are known to lead the country with the best interest of citizens and hold the responsibility of many things, such as ensuring that laws are abided by, and that the government fulfills its purpose efficiently. Presidents perform these obligations differently, in which their political views and time periods served as president play a direct role in the choices they make. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were not only two of the most important presidents of the 20th Century, but were also very much needed as they instilled great amounts of optimism within the country. They both dealt with a wide range of issues, some of which they handled differently due to their perspectives.

Ronald Reagan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt entered the office at a time when the nation was in turmoil and dealt with economic issues. Both presidents brought courage, civility, and morals, which are necessary characteristics especially when one is a president. President Roosevelt came into office promising to help America recover from the Great Depression, and President Reagan, who won by a landslide margin of came into office at the age of sixty-nine during a period of economic hardships combined with the fear of the Soviet Union taking over our nation.[1] Both men presented innovative plans for ending the crises and stabilizing the country as soon as possible, as well as boosting the confidence of many Americans.

Roosevelt proposed the New Deal, in response to the 1929 Wall Street Crash, and 1930's great depression. The New Deal was a series of social and economic programs that helped people in numerous ways and boosted the economy. These programs consisted of Civil Works Administration (CWA), Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA), and the Social Security Act (SSA). [2] They provided public works jobs, distributed millions of dollars to unemployed workers, and provided pensions, unemployment insurances, and aid to the disabled respectively. President Roosevelt’s main philosophies of leadership were that the government should do more for the people and the government should spend more in order to stimulate the economy. He followed Keynesian economic policies, which arose from the philosophies of John M. Keynes, a British economist. [3]This policy stated that the government should spend more in order to stimulate the economy. FDR, like many other economists followed this philosophy, ignoring the fact that Europe’s attempt at a Keynesian economy had failed miserably. The amount of programs and administrations kept increasing and totaled to at least one hundred by the end of his presidency. This vast growth of agencies became known as the “alphabet soup” era. Although he accomplished what he wanted, none of his agencies worked the way he wanted them to, and most of them damaged the economy further. Reagan on the other hand had placed tax cuts and control on the government to prevent inflation and spending. His conservative principles were contrary to FDR’s New Deal program. Reagan’s economic policies were known as “Reaganomics,” and his ideas were those very similar to other Republicans.[4] FDR comforted the country through his frequent Fireside Chats, to approach families in a warm and friendly way and assured jobless Americans that everything would work out, while Reagan religiously followed his agenda, promising the country that economic growth would soon take place and the Soviet Union would be defeated. They both had a direct influence on the way America viewed itself. President Reagan argued against restraints on free enterprise, defended natural rights and limited the government. Reagan’s favorite saying was “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” [5]What Reagan meant was a big government created too high costs and used the money unwisely. The money the government spent took away from the money for the people, and here it is evident that he cared about morals. He criticized inflation, and the government’s restrictions on individual freedom. In order to restore economic growth, Reagan proposed several ideas, and one of them was putting the government back with limited power over the country. He felt decreasing the influence of the government would help the economy and the people. His tax cut plan appealed to the people of America just like FDR’s fireside chats did. These actions, taken along with the economic boom convinced the American people that the government was doing something for average person.

The interesting part is that Reagan was not anti-government his entire life; he was actually a Roosevelt democrat. The Reagan family survived the Great Depression because Reagans father was able to find a job in one of the New Deal programs. [6]A few years later, Ronald Reagan found himself admiring Roosevelt’s leadership skills and efforts during World War I to defeat Nazi Germany. However during the Second World War, Reagan drifted away from Roosevelt’s Democratic party and it’s liberal ways and confined to the conservative ways.

Although Roosevelt passed acts, such as the Social Security Act and Fair Labor Standards Act, and took account for minorities including African Americans, it wasn’t sufficient. There were still instances where the New Deal programs didn’t treat African Americans as well as whites. The New Deal was a blessing to African Americans to some extent. Aid to African-Americans prior to 1933, barely existed, so the federal help that did come with the New Deal, was a big thing. In addition, some of the New Deal agencies grew more sensitive to the needs of African Americans, mainly because of the Roosevelt’s leadership. The Social Security Act during Roosevelt’s presidency was a permanent pension system for the elderly, which was through the employer. This was instilled because there were many old age people who were unable to work and needed means to support themselves. [7]On the other hand, in 1933 Reagan signed legislation and attempted to persevere the Social Security Act. Although Reagan had made large tax cuts, he raised payroll taxes and taxed Social Security benefits of upper-income Americans. [8]The plan preserved the Social Security, but we see that he was willing to levy taxes even if he hadn’t agreed with them.

Just like every other president, both Reagan and FDR wanted better for the country. They were an epitome of perfection; in the sense that they did exactly what was needed to do to keep the country stable and going and did it without any flaws. They came into office knowing exactly what to do. They were determined to the change the world, and each brought their own views and political stances in efforts to do so. And, most importantly, each succeeded. Their presidencies and contributions to the society, especially President Reagan’s, remains in the hearts and minds of an entire nation of people; people that have not forgotten and will not forget them anytime soon. He was a true hero to many Americans, a strong president who cared for his country dearly and proved this by his actions during his presidency.

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[1] ("Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library")
[2] ("New Deal Programs and Timeline")
[3] (Lohr )
[4] ("Reaganomics")
[5] ("Inaugural Address January 20, 1981 ")
[6] ("American President A Reference Resource" )
[7] ( McSteen)
[8] ( Sahadi )

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