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UTD / Epps / Epp 3325 / What is the difference between a transfer payment & a tax expenditure?

What is the difference between a transfer payment & a tax expenditure?

What is the difference between a transfer payment & a tax expenditure?


School: University of Texas at Dallas
Department: Epps
Course: American Public Policy
Professor: Robert lowry
Term: Spring 2016
Tags: american, Public, Policy, midterm, review, UTD, University, Of, texas, dallas, exam, lowry, and Robert
Cost: 25
Name: Midterm Review - American Public Policy
Description: A midterm review for Dr. Lowry's American Public Policy course.
Uploaded: 04/15/2016
15 Pages 43 Views 1 Unlocks

Short Answer Questions

1. What is the difference  between a transfer payment  & a tax expenditure? Give an  example like of each.

Approximately 65% of all money collected in taxes by the federal  government is returned to the economy as transfer payments to  citizens. Transfers to citizens range from Social Security and  unemployment benefits to payments to farmers to support  commodity prices. Interest on the public debt is also a form of a  transfer payment, one that now absorbs nearly 8% of total federal  spending. Another 10% of tax receipts is transferred to other levels of government to support their activities.

The use of money transfers to attempt to promote certain  behaviors is in many ways an inefficient means of reaching policy  goals. The money paid out in Social Security benefits, for example,  is intended to provide the basics of life for recipients, but nothing  prevents those recipients from using it to buy food for their pets  rather than for themselves. The claims about how “welfare”  payments are used and abused are legion, if often inaccurate.  Many transfer programs, though less expensive than providing  direct services, are much less certain of reaching the individuals  and achieving the goals for which they were intended (p. 9)

The term tax expenditures derives from the theory that granting  tax relief for an activity is the same as subsidizing that activity  directly through an expenditure program. The use of the tax  system as a policy instrument as well as for revenue collection is  perhaps even less certain in its effects than transfer payments, for  the system is essentially providing incentives rather than  mandating activities. Tax incentives are a subset of all incentives  available to government to encourage or discourage activities. If a  system of incentives can be structured effectively, then demands  on the public sector can be satisfied in a more efficient and  inexpensive manner than through direct regulation. Clearly, this  form of policy instrument is applicable to a rather narrow range of  policies, mostly those now handled through command and control  regulation, but even in that limited way, the savings in costs of  government and in the costs imposed on society may be significant (pp. 10-11).

2. What is the “garbage can  model” (or multiple streams  model) of policy making?

The garbage can model of organizational decision making is one of  the important contributions of the bounded rationality approach.  The basic idea of the garbage can is that the multiple constraints  on policy prevent real-world implementation of the rational model  of policies to pursue goals. Rather, in the garbage can, streams of  opportunities converge almost at random, so it is difficult to predict what policies will be adopted. For example, John Kingdon has  discussed agenda setting in policy as the opening of windows of  opportunity that present the opportunities to use as solutions. The  confluence of those streams may mean that solutions pursue

What is the difference between a transfer payment & a tax expenditure?

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goals, rather than the usual assumption that programs are  formulated to solve problems. Bureaucratic organizations have  commitments to instruments and other “solutions” and hence may  want to find ways of using their instruments. This behavior may be  especially evident when the organization is threatened by  termination or by other organizations competing for their turf.

The garbage can model has been generalized to the multiple  streams approach to policymaking. The logic of this approach is  that three streams of factors––problems, politics, and policy  characterizations––converge in more or less accidental manners.  This process is not entirely accidental, however; policy  entrepreneurs play a crucial role in bringing together the various  streams and in using, if not creating, windows of opportunity. Thus,  although elements in the streams may emerge somewhat  randomly, there is a need for some political or administrative actor  to bring the streams together and produce effective action (p. 57).

3. Compare pluralist & elitist  explanations of agenda  


The dominant, though far from undisputed, approach to  policymaking is pluralism. Stated briefly, the pluralist approach  assumes that policy making in government is divided into a  number of separate arenas and that the interests and individuals  who have power in one arena do not necessarily have power in  others. Furthermore, interests that are victorious at one time or in  one arena will not necessarily win at another time or place. The  pluralist approach to policymaking assumes that there is  something of a marketplace in policies, with a number of interests  competing for power and influence, even within a single arena. The competitors are conceived as interest groups competing for access  to institutions for decision making and for the attention of central  actors in the hope of producing their desired outcomes. The groups are assumed, much as in the market model of the economy, to be  relatively equal in power, so that on any one issue any interest  might be victorious. Finally, the actors involved in the political  process generally agree on the rules of the game, especially the  rule that elections are the principle means of determining policy.  The principle function of government is to serve as an umpire in  this struggle among competing group interests and to enforce the  victories through public law (pp. 70-71).

The elitist approach to American policymaking seeks to contradict  the dominant pluralist approach. It assumes the existence of a  power elite that dominates public decision making and whose  interests are served in the policymaking process. In the elitist  analysis, the same interests in society consistently win, and they  are primarily those of business, the upper and middle classes, and  whites. Analysts from an elite perspective have pointed out that to  produce the kind of equality assumed in the pluralist model would

Compare pluralist & elitist explanations of agenda-setting.

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require relatively equal levels of organization by all interests in  society. They then point out that relatively few interests of working and lower-class individuals are effectively organized; compared to  many of its European counterparts, American labor is not  particularly well organized or powerful. Although all individuals in a democracy certainly have the right to organize, elitist theories  point to the relative lack of resources (e.g., time, money,  organizational ability, and communication skills) among members  of the lower economic classes. Thus, political organizations for  many poorer people, if it exists at all, may imply only token  participation, and their voices will be drowned in the sea of middle class voices described by E. E. Schattschneider. The claims of  elitism have been reinforced in 2011 and 2012 by increasing  awareness of the economic and political power of the richest 1% of  the American population.

The implications of the elitist approach are rather obvious. If  agenda formulation is crucial to the process of policymaking, then  the ability of elites to keep certain issues off the agenda is crucial  to their power. Adherents of this approach believe that the agenda  in most democratic countries represents not the competitive  struggle of relatively equal groups, as argued by the pluralist  model, but the systematic use of elite power to decide which issues the political system will or will not consider. Scholars argue that the elite uses its power systematically to exclude issues that would  threaten its interests and that those “suppressed issues” represent  a major threat to democracy. If too many significant issues are kept off the agenda, the legitimacy of the political system can be  threatened, along with its survival in most extreme cases. A  decision not to alter the status quo is a decision, whether it is  made overtly through the policymaking process or is the result of  the application of power to prevent the issue from ever being  discussed (pp. 71-72).

4. What is logrolling? Why  does it occur?

The basic patterns of decision making in American politics are  logrolling and the pork barrel, through which, instead of clashing  over the allocation of resources, actors minimize conflict by giving  one another what they want. For example, instead of contending  over which river and harbor improvements will be authorized in  any year, Congress has tended to approve virtually all proposals,  so that all members can claim to have produced something for the  folks back home. Or Congress members from farming areas may  trade positive votes on urban development legislation for the  support of farm legislation by inner-city Congress members. This  pattern helps incumbents to be reelected, but it costs taxpayers a  great deal more than would a more selective system.

Although logrolling tends to spread benefits widely, being directly

What is logrolling? why does it occur?

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involved in the decision-making subsystem tends to produce more  benefits for Congress members and their constituents. That could  be see easily in the distribution of funds from the 2005 SAFE  Transportation Equity Act. This act provided a good deal of highway spending for all the American states but tended to favor the states  and congressional districts represented on the transportation  committees in both houses of Congress.

Logrolling and pork barrel policy making are very effective as long  as there is sufficient wealth and economic growth to pay for  subsidizing large numbers of public programs (p. 37).

Another strategy for forming coalitions that is similar to partisan  analysis is logrolling, in which coalitions are formed not around a  single piece of legislation but across a set of legislative initiatives.  In the simplest example, Representative A favors bill A but is  indifferent to bill B. Representative B, on the other hand, favors bill  B but is indifferent to bill A. The logical thing for these two  members to do is trade their votes on the two pieces of legislation,  with A voting for bill B and B voting for bill A. Several bills may be  involved in vote trading over time. In some ways, logrolling is a  rational activity because it allows the passage of legislation that  some members of Congress––and presumably their  

constituencies––favor intensely but that might not otherwise be  able to gain a majority. But logrolling also has the effect of bringing about the approval of a great deal more legislation than would  otherwise be passed, thus boosting public expenditures and  taxation. It enables relatively narrow interests in the nation to  develop coalitions for their legislation that may not be justifiable in  terms of the broader public interest (p. 101).

Added Notes: Is a coalition formed not around a single piece of legislation but instead its a strategy whereby a bill is traded between congress representatives . For example , let say Representative A favor Bill A but indifferent to Bill B. On other hand Representative B favor Bill B not Bill A, so in order for Logrolling to occur these -representatives will have to trade their favors in if votes in order to make sure each bill passes by supporting each other

5. What is incrementalism?  What is its strength as a  method for making policy  decisions?

The logic of bounded rationality that rejects comprehensive  rationality when considering policymaking appears also in the  incrementalist approach to policy. Incrementalism has two distinct  elements, but both support the basic logic that making  comprehensively rational policy decisions is impossible and  perhaps even unwise. The empirical approach to incrementalism  has examined repetitive policymaking––especially on the budget.

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Those studies have found that the volume and complexity of  decisions lead decision makers to fall back on simple incremental  rules of thumb rather than attempt to make the perfect allocations  of funds. The assumption is that by making a series of small  adjustments over time, appropriate allocation of funds will be  achieved.

The normative argument for incrementalism is that in the long run  better decisions are made by “successive limited comparisons” of  a policy choice to the status quo and by gradually adapting policies

through trial and error and learning. The argument is that this  allows retreats if poor initial choices are made and prevents costly  investments in poorly designed programs. On the other hand,  incrementalism can be seen as excessively conservative, retaining  existing policies for longer than might be justified and preventing  significant reforms (pp. 57-58).

Broadly, incrementalism means that changes in an agency's  budget from year to year tend to be predictable, but the word has  taken on several additional, more specific interpretations. First,  incremental decision making is described as a process that is not  “synoptic,” or not fully rational––that is, incremental decision  making does not involve examining sweeping alternatives to the  status quo and then making a decision about the optimal use of  budgetary resources. Rather, incremental decision making involves “successive limited comparisons,” or the sequential examination of marginal changes from the status quo and decisions about whether to make those marginal adjustments to current policies. An  incremental decision-making process builds on earlier decisions,  seeking means to improve the existing situation rather than  altering current policies or budgetary priorities completely.

Advocates of incremental decision making argue that it is actually  more rational than the synoptic method. Because it provides an  experiential base from which to work, the incremental method  offers a greater opportunity to make good policy choices than does the apparently more rational synoptic method. In addition, errors  made in an incremental decision-making process can be more  easily reversed than can major changes made in a synoptic  process. In many ways, incremental decision making is a cost minimizing form of rationality rather than a benefit-maximizing  approach. Incrementalism reduces costs, first, by limiting the range of alternatives and thereby limiting the research and calculation  costs for decision makers, and second, by reducing the costs of  change, particularly of error correction. Given the limited  calculating capacity of human beings––even with the aid of modern technology––and the resistance of most individuals and

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organizations to change, incrementalism can be argued to be a  rational means for making choices (pp. 170-171).

6. What are unfunded  

mandates, and why do they  cause friction between  

national & state officials?  Give an example.

An unfunded mandate is when the federal government has  jurisdiction but forces a state to fund and implement the new  federal requirements. An example is when Congress legislated a  national drinking age via highway fund manipulation. If a state did  not wish to comply with the federal drinking age, then they would  lose some or all of their federal highway funds. Unfunded  mandates create friction between federal and state because state  legislators (especially those with strong 10th Amendment  sentiments) do not like to be coerced into carrying out the will of  the federal government.

7. Why is the interstate  

commerce clause important  for understanding the growth  of the federal government?

The interstate commerce clause is important because it involves  the physical movement of people and things across state lines.  Over the course of US history, especially in the last 150 years, the  interstate commerce clause has evolved into anything that has to  do with interstate commerce. Over time, the court had more and  more expansive interpretations of the interstate commerce clause.  (Ex. Civil Rights legislation was found to affect interstate commerce because it had to do with what hotels and restaurants people could patronize)

8. What are street level  

bureaucrats, and how do they influence policy?

Subset of governmental agency/institution containing the  individuals who implement and enforce actions required by laws  and regulations. Examples include policemen, firefighters, social  workers, etc. “Policy implementation in the end comes down to  those who actually implement it.” Street level bureaucrats can  enforce policies to variable extent.

9. What are public goods, and why can't we rely on the  private sector to provide  them?

Public goods are goods or services that, once produced, are  consumed by a relatively large number of individuals and whose  consumption is difficult or impossible to control––they are not  “excludable.” This means that it is difficult or impossible for any  individual or firm to produce public goods, for they cannot be  effectively priced and sold. If national defense were produced by  paid mercenaries, rather than by government, individual citizens  would have little or no incentive to pay the group of fighters  because citizens would be protected whether they paid or not.  Indeed, citizens would have every incentive to be “free riders”––to  enjoy the benefit of the service without paying the cost.  Government has a remedy for such a situation: It can force citizens to pay for the service through its power of taxation (pp. 78-79).

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10. What is the difference  between policy outputs &  policy outcomes when we are evaluating public policies &  programs? Give examples.

Policy outputs are what comes out of the legislative process. (Ex.  Affordable Care Act was an output of policy proposed by the  Executive, passed by Congress, signed by Executive) They are the  immediate consequences of policy. Policy outcomes are measures  of the impact and success/failure of a policy output. (Ex. No Child  Left Behind--policy output-->not a good policy outcome). They are  the legitimacy of the legislation. Turnout is higher if there is a  healthy balance of both outputs and outcomes and the public is  satisfied.

11. What is an iron triangle?  Why might an iron triangle be seen as undemocratic?

Even in the absence of corrupt practices, the interaction of the  public and private sectors in the US has been described as “iron  triangles,” in which there is a symbiotic relationship among interest groups, congressional committees and subcommittees, and  administrative agencies (bureaucracies). The interest groups need  access to Congress and to the administrative agencies who serve  their members. The agencies need support (on their budgets and  other legislation) from Congress, and they use interest group  support to obtain it. Congress members want to be reelected and  need effective programs that serve their constituencies, as well as  support (including financial support) from interest groups (p. 58).

12. What are the basic  

procedural steps all  

administrative agencies must follow to adopt regulations?

There are two principal ways in which regulation writers collect  ideas and opinions. The first, formal rulemaking, appears  somewhat like a court proceeding, with a formal hearing, the  taking of oral testimony from witnesses, and the use of counsel.  Formal rulemaking is a time-consuming and cumbersome process,  but it is deemed necessary when the social and economic interests involved are sufficiently important. Examples of formal rulemaking  are the approval of new medications by the FDA and the licensing  of nuclear power plants by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  The written records generated in such proceedings are important,  given that these rulings are important to many elements in society  and may be the subject of subsequent discussion and litigation.

The second method of collecting inputs is informal rulemaking,  which proceeds through several steps. First, the agency must  public in the Federal Register a notice of its intent to issue a certain regulation. A period of several months is specified, during which  individuals and groups who believe themselves potentially affected by the rule can offer opinions and make suggestions about its  content. After the designated time has passed, the agency may  issue a draft of the regulation that it would ultimately like to be put into effect. The draft may be based on the suggestions received  from affected interests, or it may be what the agency had been  planning all along. Then, there is another waiting period for  responses to the draft regulation, which may be made directly to  the agency or submitted indirectly by having a friendly member of

Congress contact the agency with proposed alterations. Then,  based on these responses as well as its own beliefs, the agency  issues the final regulation, which will have the force of law.

In addition to the two principal forms of rulemaking, administrative  law has developed two other ways of adopting regulations. Hybrid  rulemaking represents an attempt at compromise between the  thoroughness of the formal process and the relative ease of the  informal process. Hybrid rulemaking came about in part because of the courts, but it also was required by some acts of Congress,  especially for environmental policy. Although it does entail full scale judicial proceedings, it may require the opportunity to cross examine witnesses, so as to create a full judicial record that can be the basis for an appeal if further judicial proceedings are  demanded.

The other emerging form of rulemaking is negotiated rulemaking.  Given the complexity of many of the policy areas into which  government must now venture and the number of interests  involved in each policy, it may be easier to negotiate rules than to  attempt to make them administratively. This process can save a  great deal of future ill will among the affected interests, and it may  actually create policies superior to those that might emerge from a  more centrally directed process. Congress recognized the validity  of this form of rulemaking by passing the Negotiated Rulemaking  Act of 1990 to specify the conditions under which it can be used  and the procedures required.

The legitimate force of a regulation comes from passage of a  statute by Congress and from correct procedures (as specified in  the Administrative Procedures Act) in issuing the regulation. In  general, issuing a regulation takes about 18 months from  beginning to end and allows for substantial representation of  affected groups and individuals (pp. 107-108).

13. What is an example of a  social insurance program?  Why might it be argued that  this is an appropriate  

function for government?

One example of a social insurance program is Medicare. It can be  argued that the implementation of this social program is an  appropriate function of the government as it is a form of  redistribution, ensuring that all citizens receive some minimal  standard of living, in this case health care in older age. This can be  justified as a positive externality.

14. Why might think tanks be more likely than elected  officials to be a source of  public policy proposals?

Think tanks (Brookings Institute) have become a major source of  solutions at both the state and federal levels, especially since the  1980s. They exist for the purpose of pushing solutions to problems  that haven’t yet been identified. Sometimes, not often, members of think tanks are academics and think tanks frequently rely on the  work of academics to generate proposals. Think tanks are more

likely to make public policy proposals because they look at  problems simply as problems that simply need to be solved.  Elected officials, on the other hand, are typically more interested in what is politically feasible as opposed to actual solutions in public  policy.

15. What is the difference  between the “police patrol” & “fire alarm” styles of  

oversight of administrative  agencies? Which style is  more common in Congress?

An agency possesses a “police patrol” style of oversight when they are proactive. When an agency is reactive, they possess a “fire  alarm” style of administration. Fire alarm more common in  Congress. They prefer oversight, setting rules and procedures that  allow citizens and administrations to detect violations and seek  remedies themselves.

16. What is the difference in  structure between executive  departments & independent  regulatory commissions?

Heads of the independent regulatory commissions are appointed  by the President and can only be removed with good cause. In  comparison, while heads of executive departments are also  appointed by the President, they must be confirmed by the  Congress and can be removed for political reasons.

17. What is a continuing  resolution, and why is it  important in budget politics?

A continuing resolution is the continuation of the current federal  budget. It acts as a temporary fix and keeps the budget as-is when  Congress cannot reach an agreement on a new budget.

18. What is “pork barrel”  legislation, and why does it  occur?

“Pork barrel” legislation happens when legislators appropriate public funds for projects that only serve to benefit a small population, usually a legislator’s state or district, as opposed to the nation’s wider citizenry. Elected officials will engage in this activity to please their constituents back home and thus increase their chances of reelection. However, it should be noted that despite the Republicans making a spectacle out of this issue in the 2010 Midterms, pork barrel spending accounts for <1% of all federal spending.

19. When & why did  

smoothing business cycles  become something that the  federal government is  

expected to do?

The U.S government runs counter-cyclical to  

the business cycle in order to smooth out the peaks and troughs.  This results in heavy fiscal policies during troughs (or  recession/depression) and loose during peaks. This has become a  way of letting businesses self-regulate themselves, but allowing for governmental backing in times of economic need.

20. Why would we expect  independent regulatory  

commissions to be more  independent from control by  the president than the  

executive departments &  agencies?

Independent regulatory commission are more independent from  control by the president than the executive departments and  agencies because they are created through acts written by  Congress and are separate from the executive departments.  Because of this they have more autonomy and have their own form of governance. The purpose of these commissions is to allow them  to impose and enforce regulations within their scope without the  undue influence of politics. One example of an independent  regulatory commission is the EPA (Environmental Protection  Agency), which was formed to control and diminish environmental  pollution.

21. What is the Hawthorne  Effect in policy evaluation?

The Hawthorne Effect is a psychological  

phenomenon which creates a change in behavior when a person or entity knows that someone is watching. In regards to policy  evaluation and the bureaucracy, it may cause a change in  implementation behaviors when a bureaucracy when they know  there may be a legislative change concerning their discretion over  a certain policy. It also may make a newly implemented policy  seem better, when in fact its the newness that causes a reaction  from those who implement it and therefore makes the new policy  seem more effective than the old.

22. What is the difference  between cost-benefit analysis & cost-effectiveness?

cost effectiveness - Focus on non-monetary aspect of results. Ex)  how many lives a new health policy will save

cost-benefit analysis - compares monetary cost of policy versus  monetary benefits.

23. What does “discounting”  the future mean? Why might  the conclusions of cost

benefit analysis be sensitive  to different discount rates?

Discounting the future is when you put less weight on the future  than they do on the present. The conclusions of cost-benefit  analysis may be sensitive to different discount rates because  people attribute different importance to “Dollar today is worth  more than dollar tomorrow”.

24. Describe three kinds of  market failure that might be  justifications for government  intervention in the economy.

The three kinds of market failure are market-power (monopoly),  when private sector fails to provide for a needed/wanted good like  public goods, imperfect information when a party has a vested  interest in withholding information

(Bickers and Williams Reading)

25. What is path dependence & why does it occur?

Path dependence is that once a certain way of things has been  established these processes become incentivized and make it  harder to change policy. This occurs when an institution get used to doing something a certain way.

Essay Questions 

1. It is often observed that government in the US has grown over time. What are  some reasons for this growth? How can the growth of government be reconciled  with the fact that the number of civilians employed by the federal government  has actually decreased since 1990?  

The main reason for growth of the US government is due to the fact that more and  more individuals are dependent on the State (government) to provide certain services and  ensure and protect certain rights that, in past, were not primarily part of the duties of the  government. We can see this in particular when we look at the increase of social insurance  programs, transfer payments, and subsidies that the government provides. In order to  execute and maintain these programs many administrative organizations have been created to ensure the success and continuation of these programs. Such examples include  organizations such as the IRS, the EPA, and the CDC. These agencies have the power and  force of the government without actually being government establishments. Through these  bureaucracies the government is able to extend its power and scope of control. It may seem  surprising then that the number of civilians employed by the federal government has  decreased since 1990; however, if the length of time that people are able to stay within an  agency is considered, this discrepancy can be reconciled. Because most of the work is civil  service, it is very difficult to fire individuals who work for the government. The turnover rate  is quite low for these positions. This means that individuals can get into a position from a  young age and stay within the system for several years without any issue. With very few  firings occurring within theses agencies, there is not a high demand for employing new  workers.

2. Describe the rational choice model of decision making. How does it relate to the  notion of “bounded rationality?” Which model more accurately describes the way  that legislatures tend to make policy decisions? Explain.  

3. Over a century ago, Woodrow Wilson argued for a clear separation between  politics & administration. Most political scientists & policy analysts today would  argue that the separation is far from clear. What are some reasons legislatures  might delegate policymaking authority to administrative agencies? What are  some checks on abuse of that authority by the agencies?

One reason that legislatures might delegate policymaking authority to administrative  agencies is that the executive cannot directly, politically influence the policy that is being  made within these organizations. Any appointment of the heads of these agencies is solely  based on qualifications and not party affiliation. This is to ensure that the agencies can have  the authority to make and enforce the regulations within their scope and sphere of influence  without having pressure from political groups.  

4. How are budget politics different from the politics of other kinds of legislation?  What are the major steps in adopting the federal budget? What has been the  pattern of federal budget deficits & surpluses over the past several decades?  Describe several attempts by Congress in recent years to regulate budget  decisions.  

5. While we might like it if public policy decisions were always made by objective,  well-informed public servants acting in what they believe are the long run best  interest of the community, there are many reasons this may not occur. Among  these reasons are the incentives for decision makers created by the institutions  where they work. Discuss how the institutional rules of legislatures &  administrative agencies structure the incentives of decision makers in ways that  might affect their policy decisions.

6. What are the assumptions of pluralism & why are interest groups viewed in a  positive light? What is the major problem with those assumptions? What does the  academic evidence suggest about whether & how campaign contributions &  spending influence legislation?  

Pluralism allows many groups to organize around various interests. There are no  restrictions to involvement.

The major problem is that not everyone will get involved just because they can.  Groups that can more easily overcome the issue of involvement can have more  power. So businesses and associations (economic groups) have the most influence.

These groups cannot make as much influence as people believe they could based on  campaign contributions and spending.

7. “Shirking,” which may be defined as any instance where an employee does not  faithfully & competently carry out the tasks assigned to them, occurs in both  public & private organizations. What are some forms that it can take? Why might  at least some of these be more of a problem for public agencies charged with  implementing policy than private businesses? What can be done about it?  

8. Ideally, we would like to know how well public policies are working before  deciding whether to continue them, how much to fund agencies that implement  them, etc. Why is this hard? Discuss issues of measurement & causation. What is  a procedural audit & what are its pros and cons as a method of policy evaluation?  

9. Models of policymaking often start with the assumption that we have a problem  that needs to be addressed & a set of alternative solutions to choose from. But  who decides what we are going to decide about, & where do the alternatives  come from? Discuss the agenda setting & proposal formulation stages of  policymaking in the US. Identify biases that might exist & why certain groups or  interests might have disproportionate influence.  

10.What is utilitarianism? What are some strengths & weaknesses of using it as a  standard for evaluating public policy choices? What kinds of policy decisions are  most amenable to cost-benefit analysis?  

In short, Utilitarianism is creating the most possible benefits with the least possible harm.  “Issue of comparative happiness.” There is a difficulty in determining what is “best,” and  what one person values may be valued differently by another.

Some issues: Economic Surplus: Difference between cost and how much one would have  paid.

 Costs & Benefits: May not occur once at a single time. Cost may be upfront, but  benefit  

realized in the near or far future.

 Willingness & Ability: ...to pay can be difficult to measure if ability to pay is  limited.

 Standard is based...on aggregate output, ignoring other factors  


 Kaldor-Hicks Compensation Principle: Compensation for the “losers.” (international  trade?)

I can’t seem to think of which policy decisions are most amenable to C-B analysis. Perhaps  something with a control? School performance with new curriculum vs status quo over 25  year period? Or like, real world examples… IDK!  

In the review session, he said that specific construction projects, such as highways and  dams, were most amenable because it’s easier to measure the benefits in dollars, if that  helps any!

11.Guy Peters claims it is a “minor miracle” that public policies are ever  implemented as they were intended. List & discuss at least three reasons why  policies might be delayed or distorted during implementation. What can Congress  do to try to ensure that policies are implemented as intended?  

There are various obstacles and interests in just about every policy decision, from interest  groups to foundational difficulties within the system. “There are so many more ways of  blocking intended actions than there are of making results materialize…” (pg 125) Three reasons why policies might be delayed or distorted: (125-145)

(126) The Legislation: The very nature of the legislation itself may undermine the goals of  the  

legislation. Laws vary in their specificity, clarity, and policy areas they attempt to  

influence. Laws that are easier to implement are more difficult to pass, as  their  

specificity makes clear who the winners and losers are, thus complicating the  task

of building political coalitions.  

(128) Political Setting: Legislation is adopted through political action, and the political  process may  

plant within legislation the seeds to its own destruction. The very  

compromises and

negotiations necessary to pass a bill may ultimately make it virtually  

impossible to  

implement. (EX: stimulus bill 2009, drafted quickly, compromises produced  implementation problems). Along with this, logrolling and vagueness of  


(134) Organizational Communication: Government organizations depends heavily upon the  flow of

communication. The sheer size of a government carries with it the potential  for  

inaccurate, distorted, or block communication.

12.What do people mean when they say Congress is polarized? What kinds of  problems does this cause? State & explain three possible reasons why  polarization has increased over the past 50 years.  

To say that Congress is polarized is to say that the parties have diverged to their political  extremes. This typically causes gridlock within Congress, limiting the likelihood of  bipartisanship with regard to legislation. This may take place by limiting amendments and  excluding minority party members from committee deliberations. It may also cause a decline in policy quality.  

Potential reasons why this is taking place in the past 50 years are: lobbyists/interest groups;  political party loyalty; gerrymandering that leads to an incentive to appeal to the politically  polarizing positions; political realignment in the southern states

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