The Critical Press and the New Deal: The Press Versus Presidential Power, 1933-1938

By Gary Dean Best | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
A Marriage on the Rocks

A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES

By the beginning of 1934 the battle within the Roosevelt administration between the recovery and reform forces had engaged the attention of all columnists. Each was concerned over the conflict. Mark Sullivan may be taken to represent those in America who objected to most of the reforms, viewing them as steps in the direction of a new and un-American social order. For others, like Walter Lippmann, reform was needed, but not at the expense of recovery; the issue was the matter of priorities within the Roosevelt administration.

The year 1933 ended with the printing by several newspapers of a letter to Roosevelt from British economist John Maynard Keynes, and 1934 began with press comments on the letter. Keynes noted that Roosevelt was "engaged on a double task, recovery and reform," with "speed and quick results" essential for the former, and "wisdom" more important for the latter, lest "haste" in reforms be "injurious." In reviewing the first nine months of the New Deal, Keynes could not be sure "that the order of urgency between measures of recovery and measures of reform has been duly observed, or that the latter has not sometimes been mistaken for the former." He applauded those New Deal actions that were, strictly speaking, recovery efforts--like the Public Works Administration--but he was critical of the NRA as "essentially reform," and Roosevelt's gold purchase program. Keynes warned that "even wise and necessary reform may, in some respects, impede and complicate recovery." He counseled a greater reliance on a wise and adequate spending program, and a greater emphasis on recovery over reform." 1 Thus, Keynes' criticisms of the New Deal echoed those of American critics. As the Baltimore Sun observed,

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