Policy Response Questions

Using the learning materials covered in this course, Choose 1 Section (Energy/Environment, Security & Defense, or Public Confidence & Welfare). Answer BOTH questions under that section succinctly using an evidence-based approach:

Energy & Environment: 

NOTE: If you have previously addressed Energy or Environment in Papers #1 or #2, please choose a different topic.

You must be very specific in policy discussion for this section. For example, if you state, “We need more renewables,” you must also consider the reasons why renewables aren’t more widely used? 

  1. What do you see as the greatest strengths and weaknesses of U.S. environmental policies? What policy elements do you think are most in need of change? For example, should the nation rely more on the use of market incentives than on regulation? Should it rely more on information disclosure? Should more responsibility for environmental policy be devolved to the states?
  2. What approach should be at the heart of the U.S. national energy policy? Increasing energy supplies? Decreasing demand? Shifting emphasis to renewable energy resources such as wind and solar? Relying more on nuclear power? Whichever goal you consider to be most important, which policy alternatives are most promising? For example, should the policy be based on the provision of market incentives (such as higher gasoline taxes) or regulation (such as CAFE standards).

Security & Defense:

  1. The large slice of the U.S. budget is spent on defense. The “blowout” pie slice is called “Discretionary spending;” the rest of the U.S. budget is nondiscretionary, that is, we are under obligations to spend it. Is this the proper amount of federal spending on defense? Do you support or oppose this much defense spending as a part of U.S. foreign and defense policy?
  2. How much authority should the NSA have to gather information about ordinary Americans in its search for patterns that might alert the agency to risks of terrorism? Should all phone calls and all e-mail messages be monitored for such patterns? What about Web browsing and postings to social network sites such as Facebook? At what point does such government surveillance cross the line and become an invasion of privacy or even a violation of federal laws that are designed to protect citizens’ civil liberties even as the nation pursues its national security goals? Provide examples of government overreach if applicable.

Public Confidence & Welfare

  1. What effect does lack of public confidence in government have on our government’s policy capacity? What could be done to restore public confidence? How can our government’s policy capacity be improved?
  2. Choose a major welfare policy in the US (Medicare, Social Security, SNAP, TANF, etc.) What are the advantages and disadvantages of incremental policy change with these complex welfare policies? Similarly, what are the major advantages and disadvantages of pursuing policy change that is more far-reaching, radical, or rapid? Citing evidence, describe which major political party is more likely to support incremental or rapid change in this policy issue (this could be one, both, or neither major political party)?

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