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Americans describe the new healthcare system established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) as both a blessing and a nightmare. For millions of low and middle income Americans, the ACA offers access to health insurance they could not otherwise afford. The ACA’s opponents, however, view the new healthcare system as a threat to economic prosperity, an intrusion on personal liberty and a violation of the principles of federalism at the heart of our system of government. These same kinds of arguments were made more than eighty years ago in response to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. In the 1930s, the United States embraced far-reaching economic and social reforms including the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), the Social Security Act, and a host of other federal initiatives. Many Americans welcomed these laws as a response to the economic devastation of the Great Depression and the human suffering it engendered. Others, however, viewed New Deal reforms as misguided, or even malevolent, missteps that undermined the free enterprise system, sapped individual initiative, and gave the federal government far too much control over businesses and individuals.



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