From the Republican Party Platform

The President’s program contemplates an attack on a broad front, with far-reaching objectives, but entailing no danger to the budget. […] Constructive plans for financial stabilization cannot be completely organized until our national, State and municipal governments not only balance their budgets but curtail their current expenses as well to a level which can be steadily and economically maintained for some years to come. [5]

Both parties were arguing for cuts in government expenditures, not the increases that (with the benefit of hindsight and better theory) we have suggested were needed. Monetary policy was likewise not used to stimulate the economy at this time. It seems unlikely that the fiscal and monetary authorities knew what to do but did nothing. Instead, the tools of economic thought needed to guide policy were simply not sufficiently well developed at the time. In keeping with the prevailing view that the economy was self-correcting, the incumbent Republican president, Herbert Hoover, had insisted that “prosperity is just around the corner.” The election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 was a turning point. After his election, President Roosevelt and his advisors created a series of measures—called the New Deal—that were intended to stabilize the economy. In terms of fiscal policy, the US government moved away from budget balance and adopted a much more aggressive spending policy. Government spending increased from 3.2 percent of real GDP in 1932 to 9.3 percent of GDP by 1936. These spending increases were financed by budget deficits. Roosevelt also took action to stabilize the banking system, most notably by creating a system of deposit insurance. This policy remains with us today: if you have deposits in a US bank, the federal government insures them. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (, not a single depositor has lost a cent since the introduction of deposit insurance. [6] Finally, the 1930s was also the time of the introduction of Social Security and other measures to protect workers. The Social Security Administration ( originated in 1935. [7] The New Deal brought about changes not only in policy but also in attitudes toward policymaking. Gardiner Means, who was an economic adviser to the Roosevelt administration in 1933, said of policymaking at the time:

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It was this which produced the yeastiness of experimentation that made the New Deal what it was. A hundred years from now, when historians look back on this, they will say a big corner was turned. People agreed old things didn’t work. What ran through the whole New Deal was finding a way to make things work.