Past Daily Reference Room – Saving The WPA In 1939
The WPA (Works Progress Administration) and The NRA (National Recovery Act) were programs put in motion during the first years of the Roosevelt “New Deal” program, in an effort to get America back on its feet from the crippling depression of the late 1920’s. The WPA was a wide-ranging and adventuresome program that tackled massive unemployment by offering jobs working in the community. By 1939, some 20 million people were working on WPA projects of one form or another.
But the programs were objects of scorn by many. The well-worn label of Socialism was bandied about and there were repeated attempts to kill funding and, in the case of the NRA, enlisted the aid of the Supreme Court in order to strike it down.
But the WPA continued and weathered a lot of rough going from Conservatives. In this radio talk, given by Congressman Kent E. Keller of (D-Ill.) on June 23rd 1939, he cites the necessity for continuation of the program, despite calls for cuts in funding and outright abandonment.
The WPA would continue, in an increasingly truncated form, until it’s eventual abandonment in 1943, owing to the War and the mass employment brought on by the draft and the need for work in Defense plants.
Still, at the time it was a good idea and it saved a lot of lives in the process.
Here is that radio talk by Congressman Keller, as heard over the Mutual Broadcasting System, June 23, 1939.