AP Us Government Midterm

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AP US GOVERNMENT MIDTERM U.S. v. Nixon o President Nixon claimed he had executive privilege- authority to withhold information from the courts and Congress o Although the Constitution doesn’t mention such a privilege, Nixon contends that the privilege is inherent in the powers of the presidency o Without it, presidents could not guarantee confidentiality in convos with other officials or even foreign leaders- could make it difficult to govern Executive Orders (p. 371) o Rules or regulations issued by the president that have the force of law; issued to implement constitutional provisions or statutes Executive Agreements o President ignores the power of Congress to ratify treaties and makes “not-quite-treaties” between government heads in multiple countries o Similar to executive orders “not-quite-legislation” for domestic issues o White House Staff (Executive Office of the President) o The president has a cabinet which represents the heads of executive branch o They need some experience, expertise in area, and management skill o The President selects choices for cabinet posts but they must be confirmed by the Senate o Important in presidential decision making, supposd to be free of political influence o Usually viewed as president’s advisors, but not necessarily supposed to be that way o Cabinet is supposed to be the “experts” and executioners of law, part of a constant back and forth between the President and the rest of the branch o Problem with Bush Cabinet-no expertise but cronyism o White House staff  That’s for cronies  President selects who he wants without confirmation because they are not official officeholders  Led by Chief of Staff o Cabinet is supposed to be more pure policymakers while the staff is more about political operatives Line- Item Veto o A line-item veto is a power by which the executive can nullify specific portions of the bill without vetoing the whole thing….the power is held by governors in all but seven states Electoral College 

We don’t directly vote for the president, but rather unnamed electors that make up the Electoral College o Idealistically, the electors are supposed to be wise people of the states who would get together and vote, and they would be locally known enough that one could validly vote for the one that one agreed with better o However, nowadays, it got twisted into “vote for electors who will definitely vote for the president I want.”  Wise-people closed-room idea got thrown out o Electors can still exercise independent judgment, but the check against that is they are pre-selected by the parties who will usually choose the “fanatics” Office of Management and Budget o White House office that handles the executive budget Article II Powers of the President o Commander-in-chief of the Army  He is the “Decider” fro the military – the ultimate/supreme one  Founding Fathers didn’t intend it that way; they figured Congress would have to declare war, but it doesn’t happen that way anymore o Head of Executive Branch  He is ultimately responsible for making sure that the laws are put into place completely and fairly o Chief Policymaker  Not so much implementing the laws as crafting them  Legislation actually passed by Congress, but the President is the one who spearheads the legislation and pushes it through o Chief Diplomat  Negotiates treaties  Treaties must be ratified by the Senate  See executive agreements o Figurehead  Leader of the people  We accept the notion implied by this role, that our President should be a good representative of the nation What’s the one power in the Constitution for which there is no check on the President? o Answer: Pardons Subcommittees in Congress o *The realm where most of our life-or-death decisions on bills occur o First comes the “Marking up of the bill”- People get their hands on it  Staff of the Congress do research on the topic of the bill, give input, maybe some executive people as well  It could be so marked up that it dies, or it could be scheduled for a hearing o At a hearing, all the people interested in the bill come in and discuss it, and the bill is reshaped accordingly o

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After the hearing, the subcommittee chairman must schedule it for a vote – another place it can die o It can lose the vote in subcommittee, in which case it’s dead o If it passes, it gets reported back to the committee Pork Barrel o Funding for special projects, buildings, and other public works in the district or state of a member of Congress. Members support such projects because they provide jobs for constituents and enhance the members’ reelection chances, rather than because the projects are necessarily wise Earmark o A specific amount of money designated – or set aside – at the request of a member of Congress, for a favored project, usually in his or her district. The dollar amount may be included in one of the budget authorization bills, but more commonly is the committee report attached to the ball that instructs the relevant executive branch agency how to spend the money authorized for its operations Logrolling o When you couple earmarking and pork barreling together o “You support mine and I’ll support yours” Steering Committee/Committee on Committees o With the leadership’s prodding, this committee decides who gets on what committee o The Republican version is the Committee on Committees Powers of the Speaker o The leader and presiding officer of the House of Representatives; chosen by the majority party o Has control over committees: assigning bills to committees and also determining the composition thereof Elastic Clause o Congress has authority to make all laws “necessary and proper” for carrying out its specific powers o This is sometimes called the implied powers clause because the federal courts soon interpreted its vague wording to mean that Congress could legislate in almost any area it wished – greatly expanded the reach of the national government Marbury v. Madison o Implemented judicial review o First big Supreme Court ruling o John Marshall was seeking an opportunity to strengthen the “weak leg” of the Federal Government (Judicial Branch) o Judicial review gave a new, very important power to declare laws unconstitutional o Fosters power in the national government because it is the counter point to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions – States don’t determine what is constitutional, we do McCullogh v. Maryland o

Whether Maryland could tax the Bank of the United States Supreme Court says that national law is above state law, and Congress can constitutionally create a bank o Acknowledging the power of Congress to do things under the elastic clause grows Congress’ power to legislate, which concentrates more power in the national government Different Types of Committees o Standing Committees  Permanent congressional committees o Steering/Committee on Committees  See previously mentioned o Rules Committee  Deals with debate of bills in the House; it determines the rules for debate (the time allotted and special conditions that might attach)  Bill dies if never gets rules attached o Subcommittees  See previously mentioned o Select/Special Committees  Typically organized on a temporary basis to investigate a specific problem or to hold hearings and issue a report on special problems that arise (ex. Intelligence agency failures prior to 9/11 etc) o Joint Committees  Includes members from both houses, with the chair alternating between a House and Senate member  There are four permanent joint committees, two of which study budgetary and tax policy  The other two administer institutions and affiliated with Congress o Conference Committee  Appointed whenever the Senate and the House pass different versions of the same bill  Also has joint membership  Members from the committees that managed the bill in their respective chambers work out a single version fro the full membership to vote on  Can kill the bill by inaction, but it usually works out compromise language o Task Forces/Ad Hoc Committees  The traffic jams and turf wars surrounding much committee work have led members of Congress with strong interests in particular areas to look for ways to bypass the committee structure  Write bills that offer an alternative to what the relevant standing committees are likely to produce and doing it more quickly  On the other hand, task forces bypass mechanisms for o o

accountability to the public and to most rank-and file members • Bills are written without formal hearings or the opportunity to point out any potential pitfalls and problems of legislation Filibuster/Cloture o A continuous speech made by one or more members to prevent the Senate from taking action on a bill o Today, a cloture vote of three-fifths of the members closes or ends debate on an issue thrity hours after cloture is invoked – the measure then must be brought to a vote Pocket Veto o Final kill point for a bill: The bill goes to the desk of the President, who must either sign it into law or veto it o If he doesn’t sign it within the last ten days of Congress’ session, the bill dies (called a pocket veto) Question about the media: All it is trying to say is – “All of the following are arguments that Waterhouse raised in class that undermine this particular idea except:” Liberal Bias o Some claim there is some kind of “liberal” bias in the media and academia o Media: Proof is journalists are overwhelmingly Democratic o Academia: There is a liberal bias to education because it is inherently about seeking new answers to things; and teachers are mostly liberal because they're teaching because they aren't focused on making money. o BUT if the educational process really did liberalize young people, growing trends in higher education would correlate with growing trends in liberality amongst youngsters, which is not true o Similarly, if it was a problem that the media had a “liberal bias,” it would be affecting our political discourse, making the public more and more liberal, which is not true as well (We’re a center-right country) Money Bias o To the degree that your education has gotten you wealth, you want to keep it, so you’re conservative o Down the economic scale, traditionally the working class was Democratic Problems with Polls o The way questions are worded can change a person’s answer o People’s views on issues can change frequently o May not be an accurate representation of the public Interest Groups o Groups that are coalesced around an interest for the purpose of influencing/intersecting with government

Exist because of the emergence of a bureaucracy and of a complex legislative structure o Private Interest Groups  Usually organized around money (industry, economic interests)  Iron Triangle • Essentially the sum of the three main parts of the process surrounding interest groups: the interest group itself, the bureaucracy that group deals with, and the legislative committee it deals with • Coordination between these three parts are what puts the ideas of the group into action • Klein mentioned that a lot of the time the primary positions held in each of these three categories are held by the same elite people (although not at the same time). This notion is bad for pluralism (because the same ideas are being propagated - no questioning) but good in a way for the interest group because it forces the government to get things done  Lobbying: the efforts of interest groups to influence government o Public Interest Groups (Social Issues)  Single-issue group: Pursue a single public interest goal and are characteristically reluctant to compromise (Ex. NRA)  Multiple-issue groups: Usually represent a demographic with issues in common (Ex. NAACP) Our Party System v. European Ones o We have a winner-take-all kind of system while most of the rest of the world has parliamentary democracies with proportional representation – In one way or another, if as a party you get X% of the vote, you get X% of the power o In the US, a party gets no presentation unless they win an election (a party can get 46.3% of the vote and get far less or far more than that percentage of power) Federalism o Division of power btwn state + fed gov  How can state influence fed? • States elect senators (represent state’s interests)  Another way to check national gov. power o Confederal- states are more powerful o Unitary- national gov is more powerful o Geographic based diversityfederalist system  Age, occupation, income, ethnicity, political culture  PROBLEMS w/ federalism- slow to respond o Creates entities that can unite, vast inconsistencies state by state  Constitution gave specific powers to national gov. (state gov. take over other powers) o

o States CAN’Ttreaty, raise army, currency o Fed gov CAN’Tabolish states 3 types of federalism- nation-centered, state-centered, dual o Nation-centered  Crises- ex. Great Depressions- FDR intervened in state affairs (grants-in-aid) • Post-WWII- fed gov involved in welfare, healthcare, education, voting…  Times of activism- LBJ- Great Society  Supreme court- Marshall court • Maryland vs. McCullogh- ‘necessary and proper’ Marshall Court stretched pres power • Gibbons vs. Ogden- expanded interstate commerce • Brown vs. Board of Education- states can’t violate Warren Court Bill of Rights • Baker vs Carr- reapportionment o Dual- 70’s- Nixon, Reagan swung gov back to dual  Devolution- let power spread to states  Nixon- ‘New Federalism’- revenue sharing w/ states, grants-in-aid  Reagan- gave responsibility to states (didn’t like it- not enough $$) • Unfunded mandates  Clinton- Repub Congress w/ Newt Gingrich who supported devolution • Welfare Reform Act- states have more leeway  Bush II- made environment state’s responsibility  90’s- supreme court- fed powerstate power o 1. Narrow interpretation of interstate commerce- overturned unfunded mandates  Brady Bill (overturned), Superfund Act (overturned)  Violence of women act (overturned), Federal Wetlands Act (overturned) o 2. 11th amendment- state sovereign immunity  You can’t sue your own or another state in federal court  Federal patent law, American disabilities Act o EXCEPTIONS- Motor Voter Bill, states attempt to create term limits overturned  1970-2001- TREND- fed powerstate power o States became more activist- environmental issues, immigration, welfare, healthcare…  Result of New Federalism (devolution)- size of fed gov. the same o State power has increased  State vs. state conflict- full faith + credit, fed funds, fight for big business (lower corporate tax) 

Unfunded Mandates (p.74-75)

Laws or regulations imposed on the states unaccompanied by sufficient funding to implement them o Ex. No Child Left Behind imposed testing and reporting regime on states and local school districts o Grant-in-aid: Opposite of unfunded mandates, government gives money to states to do things Charles Beard o Talked about economic motivations of founding fathers o Talked about different the different type of wealth founding fathers had versus the average American o Founders’ fortunes were in a “personalty” unusual to normal Americans – Most Americans had realty (land), FF’s had personalty (non-landed wealth) Preemption o


Once Congress legislates in a field, the states don't get to legislate in that field anymore


Modern-day battlegrounds: medicinal marijuana in California would fall under the purview of the FDA.


And environmental stuff: we want to have our own standards for cars here, be more restrictive than the national government's standards, and the preemption argument says California can't do that

Devolution o

An approach to shifting responsibility to the states on a program-byprogram basis

o “Welfare” reform is the best example, in which, under Clinton, each state could craft its own program to reach the broad goals set at the national level •

McCain-Feingold Act (2002)

o Goals: To close the loophole of “soft money” donations – funds given to political parties and other groups for uses other than campaigning – to national, state and local political parties o

Previously, soft money had been one of the loopholes in the 1974 legislation because it was not to be used for the campaign and was therefore not limited. It was allegedly for “party-building” activities such as national party conventions, voter registration drives, etc.


To raise hard money contribution limits (to $2,000 by individuals per candidate per election) to catch up with rising costs of elections

since the 1974 legislation o

To increase disclosure provisions for contributions to groups sponsoring political ads

o To try to further regulate the use of soft money-funded advertisements by corporate and labor groups➢ o

Effect: Closed part of the soft money loophole but not all of it


Hurt Democrats more than Republicans because Democrats rely more on soft money (whereas Republicans raised more hard money)

Racial Gerrymandering

o Drawing the lines of a district in a strange way that causes a disproportionate balance within (goal is to enhance political empowerment for a party)

o Generally not unconstitutional when it’s used for party imbalancing, but gerrymandering for the purpose of achieving racial inequality is unconstitutional o

Cracking, Packing, and Stacking are illegal uses of gerrymandering for racial purposes 

Cracking: the idea that you gerrymander more than one district so as to split a concentration of minority votes. Minority folks are likely to vote for a minority representative; the splitting makes that impossible

Packing: the idea that you “pack” all the minority votes together, in one gerrymandered district, so they only get at most one representative

Stacking: when you fold a smaller minority area into a nonminority group where you know the minority vote is going to be overwhelmed

Founding Father’s Attitude Toward Political Parties o

Political parties are not mentioned in the Constitution at all, and they were far from the founding fathers’ mindset – which we know from Fed 10 and from Washington’s farewell address


However, they emerged right away as an informal mechanism for public attitudes

Federalism Question: What’s traditionally left with the states?

Political Participation

o There has been an ever-increasing push towards more and more suffrage (White males w/ land⇒Property qualifications started disappearing⇒15th amendment (1869) blacks got the right⇒19th amendment (1919) women did⇒ 1965 Voting Rights Act outlawed poll taxes and literacy tests⇒Vietnam-era 18 year olds could vote) o

Turnout has been fairly constant over the past several decades (60%)


High point was during the Gilded Age


The counterpoint to voting is “nonvoting”: orthodoxy is that nonvoting stems from people being too apathetic to care, but nonvoting is also a form of voting – just means you want things to stay the same

President v. Congress in Foreign Policy o

President has totally usurped Congressional authority for foreign policymaking; the last declared war that the US fought in was World War II


The recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan stemmed from Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress (Cheney made a specific choice not to ask for an outright war declaration because he wanted the precedent of more power in the Presidency)


Congress is supposed to ratify treaties, but the President can overcome these requirements with executive agreements and executive orders (see previously mentioned)


Congress’ pullback to sucking of war into the Presidential power was the 1974 War Powers Act: “We’re going to buy into this thing that the President can use the military short of a declaration of war, but he can’t do it indefinitely – timeframes after which he must get continued authorization from Congress”

Topics that still need to be explained: o

Irrelevancy of the Supreme Court in policymaking


Bills raising revnue


Campaign Finance


Current trend of elections


Primary elections and their effect on political parties


Voting patterns


President’s effectiveness


Powers in Congress

Ponder for the exam: What other forces, informal mechanisms, are at work in the modern era that dictate that foreign policy power must be in the presidency?

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