Fair Deal

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
This editable Main Article is under development and not meant to be cited; by editing it you can help to improve it towards a future approved, citable version. These unapproved articles are subject to a disclaimer.

In American history, the Fair Deal was President Harry S. Truman's name for his proposals made after his reelection in 1948. Truman considered it a continuation and expansion of Roosevelt's New Deal. In his address to Congress on January 5, 1949 Truman argued, "Every segment of our population, and every individual, has a right to expect from his government a fair deal." He was unable to pass any major part through Congress. Only one of his Fair Deal proposals, an initiative to expand unemployment benefits that was approved by Republican Senator Robert A. Taft, was ever enacted. [1]

The range and breadth of Truman's "Fair Deal" proposals stretched from increased welfare to slum clearance. Truman supported increasing Social Security benefits, unemployment relief, a minimum wage increase of over 50%, and a national healthcare plan.[2] Congress, controlled by the Conservative Coalition, rejected his proposals. The Fair Deal, sought the repeal of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, a Republican measure dealing with labor relations; civil rights for blacks; housing programs; and programs for the poor. The Fair Deal became a battleground for conservatives and liberals. Both the Republican Congress and the subsequent Democratic Congress were against the plan. Although the Fair Deal failed in the main, it at least fired debate in Congress over labor unions and poverty and addressed the civil rights question.

Regarding labor, Truman worked closely with the AFL and CIO unions. Prior to the 1930's, the American Federation of Labor (AFL), led by Samuel Gompers, opposed state health insurance as a threat to individual liberty. Subsequently, the labor movement reversed its position and championed health care as a basic human right. The inclusion of health care as a right was supported by Franklin D. Roosevelt's National Resources Planning Board in 1942 and Truman's Fair Deal plan and shows the success of labor in making health care an issue of national policy discourse.[3]

Regarding agriculture, Congress passed the Agricultural Act of 1948 instead of the more radical proposal developed by Charles F. Brannan, the Secretary of Agriculture under Truman. Brannan's proposal was not accepted because he delayed too long in presenting it before Congress and it lost initiative and because he never consulted with top leaders in farm legislation. A separate Anderson Act was signed in 1949 that had more in common with the Agricultural Act of 1948 than Secretary Brannan's plan did.[4]

Regarding race, Truman insisted that a meaningful civil rights program had to be an integral part of it. Such a program was before Congress during 1949 and the first half of 1950. Except for certain provisions of the Housing Act of 1949, Truman had to rely on executive orders (not laws passed by Congress) ordering equal opportunities for blacks in the military. Nevertheless, by continuing appeals to Congress for civil rights legislation, Truman helped reverse the long acceptance of segregation and discrimination by establishing integration as a moral principle.[5]

In the 1960s Lyndon Johnson credited Truman's unfulfilled program as influencing Johnson's Great Society measures, especially Medicare.

See also


  1. Hamby 1995
  2. Hamby 1995
  3. See Derickson (2000)
  4. Dean (2006) and Dean (1995)
  5. Vaughan (1976)