Roosevelt’s Critics

President Roosevelt's programs provoked strong opposition. Many conservatives saw the programs as infringements on individual rights. Others felt that the programs did not go far enough. Three prominent critics challenged Roosevelt.

Huey Long was an ambitious senator from Louisiana, remembered for his oration skills and his lack of scruples. As Louisiana governor and then U.S. senator, Long ruled the state with an iron fist, yet the people of Louisiana loved him because he attacked the big oil companies, increased state spending on public works, and improved public schools. Long opposed the New Deal as too conservative.

Huey Long was especially popular among the poor. Early in 1934, Long announced his "Share Our Wealth" program. He promised to heavily tax inheritances over $5 million and to enact a 100 percent tax on annual incomes over $1 million. The generated income would be distributed to the American people, guaranteeing every family an annual income of at least $2,000.

Father Charles Coughlin was a Catholic priest from Detroit, probably the most influential religious figure in the United States. He helped to popularize preaching that made effective use of the microphone and radio.

Father Coughlin was an early supporter of the New Deal, but later he became a critic. He blamed the Depression on greedy bankers. Coughlin believed that the solution to the economic crisis was nationalizing banks and inflating the currency. Roosevelt disagreed.

The third prominent critic was Dr. Francis Townsend, a California physician who became unemployed at the age of 67. Townsend demanded a $200 monthly pension for every citizen over the age of 60. According to his plan, recipients would be required to retire and spend their entire pension every month within the United States to stimulate the economy. The vacated jobs would be offered to younger Americans. Economists believed his plan was ridiculous, but several million Americans supported it.

Source: Roosevelt’s Critics
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