© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.


In 1937, at the peak of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "big government" New Deal era, federal government spending accounted for 11% of GDP. In 1983, at the peak of Ronald Reagan's "small government" conservative era, federal government spending accounted for 24% of GDP.20

Franklin D. Roosevelt was a distant cousin of not only President Theodore Roosevelt, but also of his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, whose maiden name was already Eleanor Roosevelt.21

During the 1932 campaign, Franklin D. Roosevelt frequently attacked President Herbert Hoover for allowing the federal government to grow too large; Roosevelt (whose name is now synonymous with big government) promised to shrink the government and balance the budget if elected.22

The House of Representatives took just 38 minutes to pass the first piece of legislation Roosevelt requested after his inauguration. Congressmen never even had a chance to read the text of the bill before voting.23

In the 1935 Wealth Tax, Roosevelt raised the top marginal tax rate to 79% for incomes above $5 million a year. Only one individual—John D. Rockefeller—occupied that tax bracket at the time.24

back to top