New Deal Alphabet Soup Agencies
Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal platform created an incredible number of federal agencies to carry out new policies and regulations.
Almost all of these agencies had an acronym like the CCC, TVA, or HOLC. Therefore, they came to be known as FDR's "Alphabet Soup Agencies" or just "Alphabet Agencies."
Here are some of the more well-known New Deal Alphabet Agencies:
Civil Conservation Corps (CCC)
The CCC was established on April 5, 1933, as a way to alleviate America's rising unemployment while also promoting environmental goals.
Unemployed, unmarried men from ages 18-25 were offered employment on environmental projects, such as fighting forest fires or planting trees.
The CCC was considered to be successful -- employing 3 million men over the lifetime of the program.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
The TVA was signed into law in May 1933. In 1916, work had begun on a hydroelectric dam, called the Wilson Dam, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a small town south of the Tennessee River. The dam was never finished.
The TVA was created to finish the project and also enhance the development of irrigation and energy production in the area. Today, the TVA continues to provide electricity to 10 million people in the southeastern region of the US.
Works Progress Administration (WPA)
The WPA was created by FDR’s executive order in 1935, when the unemployment rate had reached 20%. The WPA provided building and infrastructure jobs to unemployed and unskilled men. The program was successful in massively improving America's infrastructure. By the time the program ended in 1943, the WPA had overseen the building of 130 new hospitals, more than 4,000 schools, and 29,000 bridges.
Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA)
The AAA was signed in May 1933 in direct response to the overproduction of agricultural goods. The Act subsidized farmers who cut their production of goods, which alleviated the agricultural surplus and led to higher prices. This provided relief for farmers, many of whom were also suffering from the effects of the Dust Bowl.
Social Security Administration (SSA)
FDR signed the Social Security Act in August 1935. The program was inspired by European models, in which people paid for their own future economic security by contributing a portion of their income.
The Act provided economic assistance to retirees, who were especially vulnerable during the Depression. In addition, the Act also created unemployment insurance, health insurance, and economic assistance for widows with children and the disabled.
Social Security remains popular today.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
The FDIC was established by the Banking Act of 1933, which regulated both investment and commercial banks. When the stock market crashed in 1929, people panicked and began pulling their money from banks. Because many banks had invested money in the stock market, many banks ran out of money and went bankrupt.
In addition to providing oversight for banks, the FDIC insures bank deposits. Initially, the FDIC insured deposits of up to $2,500, and today, it insures up to $250,000 per person.
The FDIC is considered very successful in increasing people’s confidence about their deposits in banks.
Home Owners Loan Corp (HOLC)
In 1933, Congress passed the Homeowners Loan Act, which created the HOLC, transforming the way mortgages worked. The goal of the agency was to refinance home mortgages that were in default (meaning when a loan is not being paid back) or at risk of foreclosure (meaning when a bank sells the mortgaged property to recover the loan amount).
Before the HOLC, mortgage loans had terms that were only 5 to 10 years, meaning homeowners had to come up with a lot of money in a short period of time.
The HOLC offered refinancing for these strict loans and in turn, offered up to 25 years for repayment. These changes, among many others, contributed to the rise in homeownership in America.