Rexford Tugwell and the New Deal

By Bernard Sternsher | Go to book overview

Part III
Tugwell's Thought and the New Deal

9. Tugwell's Institutionalism and Economic Planning

Tugwell's institutional thought led him to deplore our failure to face the realities of modern economic life. This lapse, he maintained, resulted in business' acquiring and misusing governmental powers. The eventual outcome of this situation, he warned, would be self-destruction. Now we shall consider the long-run remedial and preventive prescription which grew out of Tugwell's institutional thought.

Tugwell did not emphasize his institutional design in connection with his criticism in early 1932 of Hoover's policies. He concentrated in his constructive comments on proposals to bolster purchasing power through immediate action in the fields of taxation, relief, and public works. By early 1933, he was concerned, in addition, with reflation-- price-raising--in both its domestic and international aspects.

When Tugwell went to Washington as an appointee of the new President, however, he hoped for a favorable response to his long-run reconstructive plans--as distinguished from short-run recovery measures in the emergency. Of course, he devoted most of his energy to his assignments in the Department of Agriculture and the Resettlement Administration, but an understanding of his role in and attitude toward the New Deal requires some knowledge of his institutional schemes (Chapter 9) and Roosevelt's reactions to them (Chapters 10 and 11).


I

What did Tugwell offer as a way of correcting economic maladjustments--summed up under the headings "overproduction" and "underconsumption"--and preventing their recurrence? The main elements of his program of "planned capitalism," which was to assure "continuity,"

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