Fair Deal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

 
Jump to: navigation, search
For the copyright doctrine, see Fair dealing.

The Fair Deal was an ambitious set of proposals put forward by U.S. President Harry S. Truman to Congress in his January 1949 State of the Union address. More generally the term characterizes the entire domestic agenda of the Truman Administration, from 1945 to 1953. It offered new proposals to continue New Deal liberalism, but with the Conservative Coalition dominant in Congress, only a few of its major initiatives became law and then only if they had considerable GOP support. As Richard Neustadt concludes, the most important proposals were aid to education, universal health insurance, the Fair Employment Practices Commission, and repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act. They were all debated at length, then voted down. Nevertheless, enough smaller and less controversial items passed that liberals could claim some success.[1]

Philosophy[edit]

A liberal Democrat who was a product of the Kansas City machine, Truman was determined to both continue the legacy of the New Deal and to make Franklin Roosevelt's proposed Economic Bill of Rights a reality, while making his own mark in social policy.[2]

Alonzo Hamby argued that the Fair Deal reflected the "vital center" approach to liberalism which rejected totalitarianism, was suspicious of excessive concentrations of government power, and honored the New Deal as an effort to achieve a democratic socialist society. Solidly based upon the New Deal tradition in its advocacy of wide-ranging social legislation, the Fair Deal differed enough to claim a separate identity. The Depression did not return after the war and the Fair Deal had to contend with prosperity and an optimistic future. The Fair Dealers thought in terms of abundance rather than depression scarcity. Economist Leon Keyserling argued that the liberal task was to spread the benefits of abundance throughout society by stimulating economic growth. Agriculture Secretary Charles F. Brannan wanted to unleash the benefits of agricultural abundance and to encourage the development of an urban-rural Democratic coalition. However the Brannan Plan was defeated by strong conservative opposition in Congress and by his unrealistic confidence in the possibility uniting urban labor and farm owners who distrusted rural insurgency. The Korean War made military spending the nation's priority and killed almost the whole Fair Deal but did encourage the pursuit of economic growth.[3]

The 21 points[edit]

In September 1945, Truman addressed Congress and presented a 21 point program of domestic legislation outlining a series of proposed actions in the fields of economic development and social welfare.[4] The measures that Truman proposed to Congress included:[5]

  1. Major improvements in the coverage and adequacy of the unemployment compensation system.
  2. Substantial increases in the minimum wage, together with broader coverage.
  3. The maintenance and extension of price controls to keep down the cost of living in the transition to a peacetime economy.
  4. A pragmatic approach towards drafting legislation eliminating wartime agencies and wartime controls, taking legal difficulties into account.
  5. Legislation to ensure full employment.
  6. Legislation to make the Fair Employment Practice Committee permanent.
  7. The maintenance of sound industrial relations.
  8. The extension of the United States Employment Service to provide jobs for demobilized military personnel.
  9. Increased aid to farmers.
  10. The removal of the restrictions on eligibility for voluntary enlistment and allowing the armed forces to enlist a greater number of volunteers.
  11. The enactment of broad and comprehensive housing legislation.
  12. The establishment of a single Federal research agency.
  13. A major revision of the taxation system.
  14. The encouragement of surplus-property disposal.
  15. Greater levels of assistance to small businesses.
  16. Improvements in federal aid to war veterans.
  17. A major expansion of public works, conserving and building up natural resources.
  18. The encouragement of post-war reconstruction and settling the obligations of the Lend-Lease Act.
  19. The introduction of a decent pay scale for all Federal Government employees—executive, legislative, and judicial.
  20. The promotion of the sale of ships to remove the uncertainty regarding the disposal of America’s large surplus tonnage following the end of hostilities.
  21. Legislation to bring about the acquisition and retention of stock piles of materials necessary for meeting the defense needs of the nation.

Truman did not send proposed legislation to Congress; he expected Congress to draft the bills. Many of these proposed reforms, however, were never realized due the opposition of the conservative majority in Congress. Despite these setbacks, Truman's proposals to Congress became more and more abundant over the course of his presidency, and by 1948 a legislative program that was more comprehensive came to be known as the "Fair Deal".[6] In his 1949 State of the Union address to Congress on January 5, 1949, Truman stated that "Every segment of our population, and every individual, has a right to expect from his government a fair deal." Amongst the proposed measures included federal aid to education,[7] a large tax cut for low-income earners,[8] the abolition of poll taxes, an anti-lynching law, a permanent FEPC, a farm aid program, increased public housing, an immigration bill, new TVA-style public works projects, the establishment of a new Department of Welfare, the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, an increase in the minimum wage from 40 to 75 cents an hour, national health insurance, expanded Social Security coverage, and a $4 billion tax increase to reduce the national debt and finance these programs.[9]

Despite a mixed record of legislative success, the Fair Deal remains significant in establishing the call for universal health care as a rallying cry for the Democratic Party. Lyndon B. Johnson credited Truman's unfulfilled program as influencing Great Society measures such as Medicare that Johnson successfully enacted during the 1960s.[10] The Fair Deal faced much opposition from the many conservative politicians who wanted a reduced role of the federal government. The series of domestic reforms was a major push to transform the United States from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy.[11] In a context of postwar reconstruction and entering the era of the Cold war, the Fair Deal sought to preserve and extend the liberal tradition of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal.[4] During this post-WWII time, people were growing more conservative as they were ready to enjoy the prosperity not seen since before The Great Depression.[12] The Fair Deal faced opposition by a coalition of conservative Republicans and predominantly southern conservative Democrats. However, despite strong opposition, there were elements of Truman’s agenda that did win congressional approval, such as the public housing subsidies cosponsored by Republican Robert A. Taft under the 1949 National Housing Act, which funded slum clearance and the construction of 810,000 units of low-income housing over a period of six years.[13]

Although Truman was unable to implement his Fair Deal program, a great deal of social and economic progress took place in the late Forties and early Fifties. A Census report confirmed that gains in housing, education, living standards, and income under the Truman administration were unparalleled in American history. By 1953, 62 million Americans had jobs, a gain of 11 million in seven years, while unemployment had all but vanished. Farm income, dividends, and corporate income were at all-time highs, and there had not been a failure of an insured bank in nearly nine years. The minimum wage had also been increased while Social Security benefits had been doubled, and 8 million veterans had attended college by the end of the Truman administration as a result of the G.I. Bill,[14] which subsidized the businesses, training, education, and housing of millions of returning veterans.[9]

Millions of homes had been financed through previous government programs, and a start was made in slum clearance. Poverty was also significantly reduced, with one estimate suggesting that the percentage of Americans living in poverty had fallen from 33% of the population in 1949 to 28% by 1952.[15] Incomes had risen faster than prices, which meant that real living standards were considerably higher than seven years earlier. Progress had also been made in civil rights, with the desegregation of both the federal civil Service and the armed forces and the creation of the Commission on Civil Rights. In fact, according to one historian, Truman had “done more than any President since Lincoln to awaken American conscience to the issues of civil rights".[14]

Legislation and programs[edit]

Note: This listing contains reforms drawn up by the Truman Administration together with reforms drawn up by individual Congressmen. The latter have been included because it is arguable that the progressive nature of these reforms (such as the Water Pollution Law, which was partly a Republican initiative) was compatible with the liberalism of the Fair Deal.

Civil Rights Movement[edit]

As Senator, Truman had not supported the nascent Civil Rights Movement. In a 1947 speech to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which marked the first time a sitting President had ever addressed the group, Truman said "Every man should have the right to a decent home, the right to an education, the right to adequate medical care, the right to a worthwhile job, the right to an equal share in the making of public decisions through the ballot, and the right to a fair trial in a fair court."[16]

As President, he did put forward many civil rights programs but they were met with a lot of resistance by southern Democrats. All his legislative proposals were blocked. However, he used presidential executive orders to end discrimination in the armed forces and denied government contracts to firms with racially discriminatory practices. He also named African Americans to federal posts. Except for nondiscrimination provisions of the Housing Act of 1949, Truman had to be content with civil rights' gains achieved by executive order or through the federal courts. Vaughan argues that by continuing appeals to Congress for civil rights legislation, Truman helped reverse the long acceptance of segregation and discrimination by establishing integration as a moral principle.[17]

Health[edit]

The main program of universal health care failed to pass after intense debates.[18]

Welfare[edit]

Under Truman, many improvements were made to the social welfare system, although one of his key aims, to extend Social security coverage to 25 million Americans, was never accomplished, although coverage was extended to 10 million.[34]

Labor[edit]

A centerpiece of the Fair Deal—the repeal of Taft-Hartley—failed to pass. As Plotke notes, "By the early 1950s repeal of Taft-Hartley was only a symbolic Democratic platform statement."[67]

Education[edit]

As Donaldson notes, the major proposal for large-scale federal aid to education "died quickly, mostly over whether aid should be given to private schools."[77]

Housing[edit]

During the Truman years, the role of the federal government in the field of housing provision was extended, with one major reform in particular (the Housing Act of 1949) passed with the support of the conservative senator Robert A. Taft.

Veterans[edit]

Veterans benefits were non-controversial, and won support from left and right.

Agriculture[edit]

Dean shows that the major Fair Deal initiative, the "Brannan Plan" proposed by Secretary of Agriculture Brannan, failed in Congress because Truman delayed too long in presenting it before Congress and it lost initiative and because he never consulted with top leaders in farm legislation. A separate Anderson Act was signed in 1949 that had more in common with the Republican-sponsored Agricultural Act of 1948 than Secretary Brannan's plan did.[98]

Federal reclamation and power projects[edit]

Truman's Fair Deal reclamation program called for expanded public distribution of federally produced electric power and endorsed restrictions on the amount of land an owner could irrigate from federal water projects. Lobbying efforts by privately owned power companies prevented the spread of public utilities. Political pressure and conflicts with the Budget Bureau and the Army Corps of Engineers kept the Bureau of Reclamation from enforcing the excess land law.[103]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Richard E. Neustadt, "Congress and the Fair Deal: A Legislative Balance Sheet," Public Policy, 5 (1954): 349-81, reprinted in Alonzo L. Hamby ed., Harry S. Truman and the Fair Deal (1974) p 29
  2. ^ Mark S. Byrnes, The Truman Years 1945-1953
  3. ^ Alonzo L. Hamby, "The Vital Center, the Fair Deal, and the Quest for a Liberal Political Economy," American Historical Review, June 1972, Vol. 77 Issue 3, pp 653-78 online at JSTOR
  4. ^ a b Hamby, Alonzo L. Harry S. Truman and the Fair Deal (1974) page vii.
  5. ^ Harry S. Truman: Special Message to the Congress Presenting a 21-Point Program for the Reconversion Period. Presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  6. ^ Hamby, Harry S. Truman and the Fair Deal, page 15.
  7. ^ Truman delivers his Fair Deal speech — History.com This Day in History — 1/5/1949. History.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  8. ^ Truman to Carter: A post-War History of the United States of America by Peter J. Mooney and Colin Brown
  9. ^ a b c d e f The Truman Years 1945-1953 by Mark S. Byrnes
  10. ^ Hamby 1995
  11. ^ “The Fair Deal.” United States History. 30 Mar. 2008 <http://countrystudies.us/united-states/history-115.htm>.
  12. ^ De Luna, Phyllis Komarek. Public Versus Private Power During the Truman Administration : a Study of Fair Deal Liberalism. New York: Peter Lang, 1997. 35-36.
  13. ^ Robert A. Taft, The Papers of Robert A. Taft: 1949-1953 edited by Clarence E. Wunderlin (2006) p. 81
  14. ^ a b Truman by David McCullough
  15. ^ The Welfare State Reader, edited by Christopher Pierson and Francis G. Castles
  16. ^ President Truman (1947). "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.".  |chapter= ignored (help)
  17. ^ Philip H. Vaughan, "The Truman Administration's Fair Deal for Black America," Missouri Historical Review, April 1976, Vol. 70 Issue 3, pp 291-305
  18. ^ Hillary Rodham Clinton, Living history (2003) p. 145
  19. ^ a b c d e Social Security History. Ssa.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  20. ^ Healthcare reform in America: a reference handbook by Jennie J. Kronenfeld and Michael R. Kronenfeld
  21. ^ American Presidents and Health Reform: A Chronolgy. Hhnmag.com (1966-07-01). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  22. ^ The food safety information handbook by Cynthia A. Roberts
  23. ^ The U.S. healthcare certificate of need sourcebook by Robert James Cimasi
  24. ^ The new public health: an introduction for the 21st century by Theodore H. Tulchinsky and Elena Varavikova
  25. ^ a b The changing federal role in U.S. health care policy by Jennie J. Kronenfeld
  26. ^ http://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/History/downloads/presidentcmsmilestones.pdf
  27. ^ a b The theory and practice of American National Government by Carl Brent Swisher
  28. ^ a b Government and public health in America by Ronald Hamowy
  29. ^ Legislative Chronology - The NIH Almanac - National Institutes of Health (NIH). Nih.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  30. ^ ibid
  31. ^ ibid
  32. ^ ibid
  33. ^ ibid
  34. ^ Tumultuous Years: The Presidency of Harry S. Truman, 1949-1953 by Robert J. Donovan
  35. ^ a b c Social Security History. Ssa.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  36. ^ A new deal for social security By Peter J. Ferrara and Michael Tanner
  37. ^ a b c d http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40428.pdf
  38. ^ http://www.basicincome.qut.edu.au/documents/Poverty%20Reduction%20and%20Welfare%20Provision%20for%20Single%20Parents%20in%20Aotearoa.pdf
  39. ^ Statistical handbook on the social safety net by Fernando Francisco Padró
  40. ^ a b America's wealth: the economic history of an open society by Peter d'Alroy Jones
  41. ^ ibid
  42. ^ Variations of the Welfare State: Great Britain, Sweden, France and Germany between Capitalism and Socialism by Franz-Xaver Kaufmann
  43. ^ Annual Statistical Supplement, 2006 - Temporary Disability Insurance Program Description and Legislative History. Ssa.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  44. ^ ibid
  45. ^ ibid
  46. ^ ibid
  47. ^ ibid
  48. ^ ibid
  49. ^ ibid
  50. ^ ibid
  51. ^ ibid
  52. ^ ibid
  53. ^ a b c d A Common Thread of Service — An Historical Guide to HEW. Aspe.hhs.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  54. ^ Blame welfare, ignore poverty and inequality by Joel F. Handler and Yeheskel Hasenfeld
  55. ^ Boyer, Paul S. Promises to Keep: The United States since World war II, page 79. Second ed. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999
  56. ^ [1][dead link]
  57. ^ Beyond the liberal consensus: a political history of the United States since 1965 by Iwan W. Morgan
  58. ^ ibid
  59. ^ ibid
  60. ^ ibid
  61. ^ ibid
  62. ^ a b From Prairie Farmer to Entrepreneur: The Transformation of Midwestern Agriculture by Dennis Sven Nordin and Roy Vernon Scott
  63. ^ Education and learning in America by Catherine Reef
  64. ^ Disabled Policy: America's Programs for the Handicapped: A Twentieth Century Fund Report by Edward D. Berkowitz
  65. ^ Funding the Modern American State, 1941-1995: The Rise and Fall of the Era of Easy Finance by W. Elliot Brownlee
  66. ^ Robert Ball and the Politics of Social Security by Edward D. Berkowitz
  67. ^ David Plotke, Building a Democratic Political Order (2006) p 246
  68. ^ Truman: Chronology 1945-49. Trumanlibrary.org (1949-05-12). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  69. ^ The New International Year Book by Frank Moore Colby, Allen Leon Churchill, Herbert Treadwell Wade, 1947
  70. ^ The Truman Administration During 1949: A Chronology. Trumanlibrary.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  71. ^ Boosting paychecks: the politics of supporting America's working poor by Daniel P. Gitterman
  72. ^ a b History of Mine Safety and Health Legislation. Msha.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  73. ^ U.S. Labor History Timeline. Clear.uhwo.hawaii.edu. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  74. ^ Harry S. Truman: A Life by Robert H. Ferrell
  75. ^ Federal Labor Laws. Employeeissues.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  76. ^ Citizenship and participation in the information age by Manjunath Pendakur and Roma M. Harris
  77. ^ Gary Donaldson, The making of modern America: the nation from 1945 to the present (2009) p 20
  78. ^ [2][dead link]
  79. ^ a b Encyclopaedia of the American presidency by Michael A. Genovese
  80. ^ Digest of Education Statistics, 2008 by Thomas D. Snyder, Sally A. Dillow
  81. ^ Children and Youth in America: A Documentary History, Volume III, 1933-1973, Parts 5-7, edited by Robert H. Bremner
  82. ^ Yerkes Observatory, 1892-1950: the birth, near death, and resurrection of a scientific research institution by Donald E. Osterbrock
  83. ^ Promises Kept: John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier by Irving Bernstein
  84. ^ When federalism works by Paul E. Peterson, Barry George Rabe, and Kenneth K. Wong
  85. ^ Universal Healthcare By Victoria Sherrow
  86. ^ Charles C. Brown, "Robert A. Taft, Champion of Public Housing and National Aid to Schools," Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin, 1968, Vol. 26 Issue 3, pp 219-253
  87. ^ Selling the Lower East Side: culture, real estate, and resistance in New York City by Christopher Mele
  88. ^ 1949 Chronology - part two. Truman Library. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  89. ^ A more perfect union: advancing new American rights by Jesse Jackson and Frank E. Watkins
  90. ^ America: A Narrative History by George Brian Tindall and David Emory Shi
  91. ^ a b American city planning since 1890 by Mel Scott
  92. ^ Dictionary of American history by Michael Rheta Martin, Leonard Gelber, and Leo Lieberman
  93. ^ a b c d America in the twentieth century: a study of the United States since 1917 by David Keith Adams
  94. ^ a b Abundance and Anxiety: America, 1945-1960 by Gary A. Donaldson
  95. ^ Housing and society by Glenn H. Beyer
  96. ^ ibid
  97. ^ ibid
  98. ^ Virgil W. Dean, "Charles F. Brannan and the rise and fall of Truman's 'Fair Deal' for farmers," Agricultural History, Winter 1995, Vol. 69 Issue 1, pp 28-53
  99. ^ Control And Sensing Of Environmental Quality edited by R. Swarup, S. N. Mishra, and V. P. Jauhari
  100. ^ History Home Page. Fns.usda.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  101. ^ The economics of crop insurance and disaster aid by Barry K. Goodwin and Vincent H. Smith
  102. ^ Public Papers of the Presidents: Harry S. Truman. Truman Library (1949-10-28). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  103. ^ Charles Coate, "The New School of Thought: Reclamation and the Fair Deal, 1945-1953," Journal of the West 22 (April 1983):58-63
  104. ^ A Brief History of the United States since 1945 by Robert D. Marcus
  105. ^ A dictionary of American history by Thomas L. Purvis
  106. ^ ibid
  107. ^ Depression to Cold War: A History of America from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan by Joseph M. Siracusa, David G. Coleman

Further reading[edit]