Descendants of FDR and His Cabinet Send Biden Letter Urging Support of New Deal Type Programs

Descendants of President Franklin Roosevelt and members of his New Deal cabinet have sent a letter to President Biden
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Descendants of President Franklin Roosevelt and members of his New Deal cabinet have sent a letter to President Biden asking that his administration takes immediate steps to work with Congress in passing the "Jobs for Economic Recovery Act" (JERA) along with the urgent creation of a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC).

The letter says, in part, “We write, as the descendants of the men and women who designed the New Deal, to commend your focus on the urgency of big, bold action to create jobs to help America build back better. Specifically, we commend your Civilian Climate Corps Initiative, and we heartily recommend including the ‘Jobs for Economic Recovery Act’ in the upcoming economic recovery package.”

Signers of the letter include descendants of FDR and others who served throughout his entire presidency:

James Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt

Henry Scott Wallace, grandson of Henry A. Wallace, FDR's Vice President, and Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce

June Hopkins, granddaughter of Harry Hopkins, WPA Administrator and FDR’s Commerce Secretary

Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall, grandson of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Labor Secretary

Harold M. Ickes, son of Harold L. Ickes, FDR’s Secretary of the Interior

“Joe Biden is off to a terrific start to fix today's massive crises of health, jobs, climate and democracy, through big, bold change that perfectly exemplifies the spirit of the New Deal," said Henry Scott Wallace, an attorney and head of the foundation Wallace Global Fund. “The creation of a Civilian Climate Corps brilliantly tackles three huge problems at once – putting unemployed people to work, strengthening the economy, and fighting climate change.”

"My grandmother, an architect of the New Deal and Social Security, would be very pleased with President Biden's leadership in this time of grave economic hardship and inequality,” said Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall, founder of the Frances Perkins Center. “Sustained government investment in our infrastructure and our people lifted us out of the Great Depression and I believe President Biden is thinking along those very same lines."

"President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal jobs programs not only put unemployed Americans to work at useful jobs, but they also left the nation with a legacy of crucial infrastructure projects,” said Dr. June Hopkins, retired history professor and author. “President Biden is promising to emulate Roosevelt with his bold plans to build back better.”

In urging Biden to embrace the proposed Jobs for Economic Recovery Act, S. 784, the group called it “boldly New Deal-ish in its potential to quickly get Americans back to work.” Sounding the alarm that the “real unemployment rate … remains near 10 percent,” they said the bill was needed “to reboot the economy … to enable unemployed Americans to work in wage-paying jobs, carrying out useful projects” in areas like public health and building major infrastructure.

The group commended Biden for his January 27 executive order initiating a Civilian Climate Corps, modeled on the enormously popular Civilian Conservation Corps begun in President Roosevelt’s earliest days. But the descendants acknowledged that the original CCC was flawed, in largely excluding disadvantaged groups like women and people of color, and urged that the new focus on “climate” rather than simply “conservation” required adding “urban projects, such as building retrofits for energy efficiency, urban gardens and bike paths, and brownfield remediation.”

They signed their appeal in the name of “our New Deal forbears … because today’s crisis of unemployment requires a federal response at least as bold as they designed to pull America out of the Great Depression and usher in the New Deal.”

The group of New Deal descendants came together in mid-2020, struck by candidate Biden’s acknowledgement that the crises he faced were so enormous as to “eclipse what FDR faced” and that his presidency must be “more ambitious than FDR’s.”

In a June letter to him, the group made 10 recommendations, many of which have become core to the Biden agenda, and wrote: “FDR and his New Deal allies, including our forebears, responded to the crisis of their time with proactive governmental solutions to help everyday Americans — to serve the forgotten many rather than the wealthy few. We ask you to do the same.”

The group followed up with a range of op-eds, videos, webinars and radio broadcasts, urging broad support for a New Deal approach to today’s major challenges.

The current letter:

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