Great_Depression_and_the_New_Deal_----_(Primary_Documents_of_the_Great_Depression_and_the_New_Deal). - Primary Documents of the Great Depression and the


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Primary Documents of the Great Depression and the New Deal Document 1 THE DEBATE OVER RELIEF OnFebruary2,1932,adebatebeganintheU.S.Senateoverafederalun- employment relief bill sponsored by Robert M. La Follette, Jr., of Wis- consin, and Edward P. Costigan, of Colorado, both counted among the progressives of their parties. This was the first time during the depres- sion that a bill to provide federal relief had reached the floor of either house of Congress. La Follette and Costigan had held extensive hearings duringtheprecedingtwomonthsandcollectedanenormousbodyoftes- timony showing that the funds available both to private charitable orga- nizations and to city and state relief agencies were now overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the unemployment problem. Staunchly opposed by Republican regulars and the president, providing federal money to the states for relief now had substantial support among Democrats and progressive Republicans. Too much disagreement over the method of furnishing federal relief still remained at this point in the session to per- mit the La Follette-Costigan Bill to pass. The February debate, however, focused national attention on the issue. Later in the session the Demo- cratic leadership succeeded in passing a bill that, after compromise, the president agreed to sign. La Follette had opened the process that led to the massive relief effort of the New Deal. La Follette opened the debate with a three-hour speech, excerpted here, in which he summarized the evidence his hearings had accumu- lated and passionately exposed the fallacies of those who still opposed Himmelberg, Robert F.. <i>Great Depression and the New Deal</i>, Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, . Created from itup on 2019-10-15 03:17:04. Copyright © 2000. Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
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federal relief. Note that the custom of the Senate is for its members to address the chair when speaking, rather than to address one another di- rectly. The chair, the presiding officer (the vice-president of the United States, if he is present), is addressed as “Mr. President.” La Follette is not addressing the president of the United States. Mr. President, we are in the third winter of the most serious economic cri- sis which has ever confronted this country. Mr. President, the wage earner is not primarily concerned with the fall in prices of securities; he is not forced merely to postpone the purchase of a new automobile; he cannot reduce his living standard by abandoning his country house in Florida during the winter season; he loses his economic all in a period of protracted depression. During the period since this depression began, this is the first time that Congress has turned seriously to the consideration of the rank and file of the people of the United States.
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