Political impact of the Second World War

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  • Political impact of the Second World War
    • Before the war
      • The machinery of the government had not been able to cope with the demands of implementing New Deal legislation
      • The Federal government had many reservations and did not try anything too radical
    • The war bore all reservations away and created a more powerful presidency and enlarged Federal Government
      • In 1940, the Smith Act had been passed to make it illegal to overthrow government
      • The War Powers Act granted Roosevelt unprecedented authority to lead the nation into a total war
    • There was a need to co-ordinate, the Federal government, economy and the military and the construction of the Pentagon symbolised this clearly
    • Agencies
      • Office of price administration - set up in 1941 to control prices which proved very successful in avoiding inflation and by the end of the war it had 73,000 paid employees
      • Office of production management (later the war production board - wpb) was crucial in allocating materials, limiting some production of civilian goods and issued contracts
        • Rationing affected gasoline, butter, sugar, coffee, cheese and meats
    • Federal expenditure
      • In 1940, federal budget was $5.3bn of which $1.9bn was spent on defence
      • By its peak in 1944, the total budget was $97.2bn of which just over $90bn was spent on the war
    • Tax
      • The vast amounts needed for war would inevitably lead to a revolution in revenue collection
      • In 1940, 4 million Americans paid income tax
        • By 1945 this figure had risen to 40 million Americans


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