I was reading a textbook on U.S and the time period of WWII. I have read that the New Deal programs like Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, National Youth Administration. The author(s) stated that President FDR essentially said goodbye to "Dr. New Deal" and entered "Dr. Win-the-War."

I'm assuming this is to save the invested money and capital to feed to war but could there be any other reasons? Any more depth into this action?

Sources: American Pageant 13th Edition by David M. Kennedy, Thomas A. Bailey & Elizabeth Cohen

  • 1
    Is there a reason to doubt the narrative?.
    – MCW
    Apr 5, 2016 at 0:39
  • @MarkC.Wallace Nope. Thank you for your concern but I wouldn't quote myself from unworthy sources (e.g Wikipedia). But, hey, I'll put it. :)
    – Asker123
    Apr 5, 2016 at 0:40
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    I'm confused. The New Deal was designed to use government spending to reinvigorate the economy; military spending for WWII had analogous effects. Given that we have an acceptable explanation, why do we need another? It sounds like you've got another question you'd like to ask.
    – MCW
    Apr 5, 2016 at 0:46
  • @MarkC.Wallace I want to make sure whether my reasoning is apt and whether there are sources that prove that there is more of a solid reasoning for FDR's actions. I do not want to assume.
    – Asker123
    Apr 5, 2016 at 0:47
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    @MarkC.Wallace - Actually I'd argue (in fact, I did argue) that those particular programs were about unemployment, not spending. Also, its debatable if WWII was actually the sole cause of the unemployment drop that led to their demise (I'm inclined to believe it was the biggest factor, but there are economists who disagree). As you can see from the graph, unemployment was on its way down years before Pearl Harbor.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 5, 2016 at 5:32

2 Answers 2


A large part of the New Deal was makework programs to give some of the nearly 13 million unemployed (over 20% of the labor force) something somewhat productive to do. The WPA, the CCC, and the NYA were all programs of that ilk.

With the war on, that problem essentially went away. Pretty much every able-bodied male was expected to either join the military, or be helping with the new war production needs. In fact, they got so hard up for labor that a lot of women entered the work force who wouldn't have otherwise been there.

So the problems that those programs were invented to solve went away, and thus there was no need for the programs anymore.

Here's the issue in visual terms. Note that the war itself started in 1939. The USA joined right at the end of 1941, but was producing arms for the Allied side much earlier.

enter image description here

The CCC was shut down in 1942, NYA and WPA in 1943. You can see from the graph that its was pretty clear by that time that they were no longer needed. So it wasn't the war directly that caused their demise, but it probably indirectly did.


During the Great Depression, arguably the most important problem was unemployment, which at its peak reached nearly 25% of the work force, or 11 million people.

The start of World War II, solved that problem. By 1944-45, the U.S. armed forces reached 11-12 million in strength, roughly matching the maximum number of unemployed cited in the previous paragraph. That's not counting the people that were employed in military related industries. By 1945, there was an issue of overemployment, with people working multiple shifts, and women entering the work force.

The programs that you referred to that were cancelled mostly addressed the employment problem, because they were "make work." And yes, the money that was formerly directed to these programs went to fund the war effort (and the "reemployment" of these people).

Other parts of the New Deal, such as the banking legislation and the Tennessee Valley Authority remained in place.

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