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Please be aware that this is a student-generated wiki designed for review for my students' AP exams. Come in, look around, and enjoy yourself...just be aware of the nature of this wiki. Even though most everything is correct, I advise caution before citing this as an authoritative source.

Questions to Consider:

How have Americans' views of government's responsibility to help the "deserving poor" changed over time?
Why are some gov social welfare programs politically protected while others are politically imperiled?
What does the Constitution mean by "promote general Welfare"?
Should religious groups be eligible to administer some federal welfare programs?

Domestic Policy

- two kinds of welfare programs in the U.S.: those that benefit most or all of the people and those that help only a small number of them (Wilson)
- political difference between these programs has a huge impact on how the government acts in regard to them (Wilson)
- Often controversial because, as it turns out, not everyone is a winner after all, especially in domestic policy.
Domestic policy usually refers to national social policies that relate to crime prevention, education, energy, the environment, health care, and social welfare (5 Steps to a 5).

  • incrementalism: "the slow, step-by-step approach to policy making" (Meltzer and Levy 119)
    • The American system is designed to be this way as major policy changes are truly impossible, and it takes time to get things done in the legislative branch.
    • Incrementalism has both good and bad aspects. It is good in the sense that no time is wasted when making immediate short term decisions to fix the problems at hand. It is bad in the sense that because decisions are made to fix short term issues, but no long term strategy is used and no solution to the problem will be reached in the long run.

When it comes to issues regarding domestic policy, liberals and conservatives have differing views on the purpose of government.
-Liberals: believe that the government should help the needy by providing social welfare.
-Conservatives: "believe that social-welfare programs are encroachments on individual liberties and responsibilities" (Princeton Review);
    • This view stems from the long-held fear of socialism and socialist practices, which conflict with the traditional laissez-faire-style government policies.
-Moderates: believe that the government should provide limited help and opportunities, but only during hard times
- Americans prefer offering jobs and services to poor, and not just money, a remnant of the "Protestant work ethic" bit of American culture.
  • This is the "service strategy" v. "income strategy" discussed toward the bottom of this page.
  • This also deals with the idea that we should have equality of opportunity but not economic equality. We should each have the same chance to succeed but success is not guaranteed.
-Americans believe that citizens should work to deserve and thus our welfare programs reflect giving to the 'deserving poor' (Wilson)l
  • Alternate view: not who deserves help, but what each person's "fair share" of national income is (e.g: robin hood way)
  • Depending on their income level, typically, people will share the perspective of either service or income strategy, as they see that the government should help them out [entitlement] or that only those who work the hardest for their assistance should be qualified [effort].

How Domestic Policy Has Changed:
  • Before the Great Depression social welfare was dealt with by local rather than the national government and even then it only benefited orphans, widows and the elderly.
  • Before the 1930's, government programs to assist the needy were nonexistent. These types of programs emerged during FDR's presidency, since there were many needy people being hard hit and affected by the Great Depression. Cash flowed to the agencies that helped those in need and to job creating projects to stimulate the economy.
  • FDR's first waves of social welfare were temporary and it wasn't until the Social Security Act that the national government would assume a permanent and substantial role in welfare.
  • FDR's election in 1932 also brought in a wave of Democrats, who later voted for the Social Security Act of 1935 in response to the Great Depression. The Act provided the following benefits:
    • Insurance for the elderly financed by a payroll tax paid on current worker's wages.
    • Insure for the unemployed to which they would contribute when they were working.
    • Medicare - cost met by taxes on wages and salaries (Wilson)
    • The war on poverty extending benefits to the poor
    • Food stamp program
    • Medicaid - funded out of general government revenues
    • Legislation that had the intent of increasing educational and job opportunities for minorities
  • More specifically, Lyndon B. Johnson (and Democratic Congressional friends) enacted the Medicare Act of 1965 to fill in the benefits omitted in the Social Security Act of 1935, such as reducing medical costs for those over 65, extending Medicaid to the poor, and paying doctors' bills for the elderly.
  • The “Reagan Revolution” of the 1980 attempted to cut back the scope of the Great Society programs. He had the support of the Democrats and managed to reduce the rate of increase of Medicare. Also reduced some of the need assistance programs. However, in 1984 these programs began to increase because of interest groups such as the AARP lobbied against cuts on the programs.
  • Wilson, along with a few other experts have speculated that the media has had a lot of effect on the public policy agenda. This "agenda-setting theory" states that the media can focus on certain public interest groups, in order to bring attention to them.
    • The media can also follow their own goals, by showing the only interest groups they care about, or to show citizens supporting specific programs they want to see on domestic policy agenda.
  • Single Payer Plan:
    • a plan in which one kind of entity has monopoly on issuing a particular kind of insurance (Wilson)
  • Currently, entitlement programs account for the largest expense in the federal budget.
    • Entitlement programs, are programs we must have and cannot cancel because people depend on them. However they are not quite as sacrosanct as they once were
    • An example would be Medicare. Thousands of people rely deeply on programs that help pay for expensive health services that they could not do without and also could not afford without help.
    • Another example is Social Security programs, particularly retirement benefits. Social security is necessary because Americans need to know that they will be taken care of when they can no longer work, or when they retire.
    • These programs are sacrosanct, meaning that the political incentive to eliminate these programs is almost nonexistent because no constituencies want these benefits reduced.
    • These usually tend to be programs that do not require a means test. However, some programs that do require a means test can be an entitlement program.
    • An example of a program that was not an entitlement is AFDC ( Aid to Families with dependent Children), which eventually got canceled and replaced with TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
      • AFDC was cut because Americans' view on the beneficiaries changed. When Americans viewed the beneficiaries as innocent widows and children, they were willing to pay for the program. However, when the American view of those who received aid from AFDC changed to an image of loose women having children out of wedlock, they demanded that the program be cut. TANF, which replaced it, had much stricter rules.
    • Domestic policies, especially entitlement and social welfare programs, are under strict scrutiny of the public. Legitimacy is an important part of entitlement programs. If the beneficiaries are seen as "deserving" of the benefits they receive, people are much more likely to support paying aid given to beneficiaries. If the beneficiaries lose legitimacy in the public eye, as was the case for the AFDC, the public is much less interested, and even opposed, to paying for those benefits.
    • Due to the fact that entitlement programs are so important, they are more expensive and take up a lot of the federal budget
    • For a politician to attempt to ax an entitlement program would be political suicide. This is why even entitlement programs that are extremely expensive and perhaps wasteful are not cut.


Two Kinds of Welfare Programs in the U.S.
  • There are two kinds of welfare programs in the United States, those that benefit most or all people and those that help only a small number of them.
  • Notice that in both scenarios, a majority of the public finances the programs; the only difference is how many people benefit from them.
  • programs that are available to all regardless of income are known as entitlements since Congress has obligated themselves to pay for them
  • Legally the difference between the two kind of programs s that the first have no means test (They are available to everyone without regard to income) while the second one are means tested( you must fall below a certain income level to enjoy them).
  • Politically the programs differ in how they get money from the government.
  • This political difference between these programs has a huge impact on how the government acts in regards to them.
  • The thought of making changes that might lower the benefits these programs pay is so politically risky that most politicians never discuss them .
  • When programs such as these run into trouble sue to rising expenses politicians scramble to look for ways of maintaining benefits while hiding the rising cost or postponing dealing with them.
1. Majoritarian politics: nearly everyone benefits, nearly everyone pays.
  • Biggest problem is the cost: who will pay and how much will they pay?
  • Can create a "free-rider" problem where there are some individuals who do not pay while they receive the benefits.
  • Usually doesn't have means tests
  • People receiving benefits should believe that they will come out ahead, and not "stick" for as long as they can
  • Ex: Social Security (Insurance program) and Medicare
    • Democrats had the majority influence in deciding education matters, and did not allow for vouchers (paid for by the U.S. government) to be used, so that students could attend other types of schools, such as private or religion based.
    • Republicans lead by George W. Bush supported the use of vouchers in 2001.
    • Negations in Congress to alter the Elementary and Secondary Education Act were not carried out, however, and the measures for vouchers were lost.
    • In 2002 the Supreme Court, however, stated that vouchers could be allowed for certain private schools in the Zelman v. Simmons-Harris case. The Court states that the use of vouchers in this instance was constitutional.
    • The use of vouchers carries away from a majoritarian politics viewpoint, and serves as a sort of client politics, where the costs are still widely distributed, but the benefits are concentrated for one group. The Democrats do not seem to favor this, while Republicans do. [1]
2. Client politics: a few number benefit, but almost everyone pays.
  • Biggest problem is the legitimacy: who should benefit and how will they be served?
  • Often more controversial than majoritarian politics since everyone wants to reap what they sow
    • Example: Many people often believe that aid to the needy should not last long as they become dependent on it and end up not working for what they want. Lately this has been a topic of hot debate.
  • Usually does have means tests
  • EX: Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
    • In (AFDC) the legitimacy of the program was questioned after people thought the program was encouraging out-of-wedlock births and social dependency (AFDC recipients received additional benefits for each new child.)
  • After a program loses its legitimacy of the beneficiaries the program faces financial problems with less support of the program
    • In fact, client politics depends on if its recipients believe it to be legitimate. For example, food stamps may provide an incentive to work less and rely on the government to provide money, but this is a weak case since those who qualify for food stamps have very low incomes.
  • People will always question weather programs encourage people to avoid work to receive the benefits, and judge the programs according to the possibility of themselves being in positions of need
    • People often criticize the dependence that may come of welfare programs and the way people have found to take advantage of the programs even when they no longer need them.

Social Welfare in the U.S.
  • Welfare policy is shaped by four factors:
    • Americans have taken a more restrictive view of who is entitled to government assistance.
      • Question of who deserves the benefits.
        • "People who can't help themselves?"
        • The extent to how much family support should be given.
        • Alternative view is each person deserves a "fair share." Government should take away money from those who have a lot of give to those who have very little.
        • We also believe that instead of giving money, we should give services (education, training, medical care).
    • America has been slower than other countries to embrace the welfare.
      • The American welfare policy arrived in 1935 with the Social Security Act.
      • At that time, 22 European nations already had similar programs.
      • Germany was the first to have a nationwide social security program (sickness maternity insurance in 1883, old-age 6 years later, and unemployment insurance in 1927).
      • England is almost exactly the opposite from America in this department, in 1908 England set up a national old age pension, within 3 years (extremely quick) there was nationwide health care and unemployment insurance. The U.S. still doesn't offer national health care.
    • We insists that states play a large role in running welfare programs.
      • The Constitution did not state whether Congress had the power to spend money on welfare. It was not until the 1930s that constitutional reinterpretation made it clear that the federal government could do anything in the area of social policy. The federal government since FDR has played an increasing role of passing policies to help the public, deviating from a "hands off" method.
      • States use to provide welfare, but when the federal government gained the power, it was stated that the states were "the laboratories for experimentation in welfare policy."
      • Due to the ideals of the "Devolution Revolution", social welfare programs and even entitlement programs are becoming some of the major ways that the federal government is giving power back to the states. It is now common that the federal government fund money for programs through grants and allow the states to decide how to run the program and distribute these funds individually, becoming basically "laboratories for experimentation."
    • Fourth, nongovernmental organizations play a large role in welfare.
      • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Young Build, Jewish Foundation, and Catholic Charities, have received large federal grants and long participated in the administration of federal social programs.
      • 1996 a law contained a provision -- charitable choice.
      • Faith-based organizations are more prominent in the administration of welfare-to-work program
        • Ex: HHS (Health and Human Services) and HUD (Housing and Urban Development) increased faith-based grants by 41 percent and 16 percent

Major Social Welfare Programs
Insurance / "Contributory" Programs
  1. Medicare- Federal government pays for part of the cost of medical care for retired or disabled people covered by Social Security. Paid for by payroll taxes on employees and employers. No means test.
  2. Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI)- monthly payments to retired or disabled people and to surviving members of their families. no means test
Assistance / "Noncontributory" Programs
  1. Medicaid - Pays medical expenses of persons receiving TANF or SSI payments. Means test.
  2. Food stamps - Vouchers, given to people whose income is below a certain level, that can be used to buy food at grocery stores. Paid for out of general federal revenues. Means test.
    • "There have been a few publicized cases of people using food stamps to buy luxury items" (Wilson and Dilulio).
    • Many Americans can imagine becoming poor which is why they allow such a program to operate as part of a government-supplied safety net, that might someday help them (Wilson and Dilulio).
  3. Earned Credit Income Tax Credit- Pays a cash subsidy (or tax credit) to poor working families. Means test.
    • Came from a provision of a 1975 law where working families with kids could receive money from the government if they family income was below a certain level (Wilson and Dilulio).
  4. Supplemental Security Income - Cash payments to aged, blind, or disabled people whose income is below a certain amount. Paid for from general federal revenues. Means test
  5. Unemployment Insurance - weekly payments to workers that have been laid off and cannot find work
  6. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - Replaced AFDC. Requires a means test and provides payments to needy families with children.

  • Charitable Choice- Name given to four federal laws passed in the late 1990s specifying the conditions under which nonprofit religious organizations could compete to administer certain social service delivery and welfare programs.
    • The provision prohibited religious organizations from using any public funds for proselytizing, religious instruction, or worship services (Wilson and Dilulio).
    • Prohibited the government from requiring them to remove religious art from buildings where social service delivery programs funded in whole or in party by Washington might be administered (Wilson and Dilulio).
    • Majority of people want the government to support community-serving faith based organizations but the same majority wants the government to oppose faith-based programs that require beneficiaries to in religious practices or only hire people of the same faith (Wilson 516)
  • In the course of social welfare there are usually two recipients one major welfare program recipient includes majoritarian politics the other being client politics.
  • Who deserves to benefit is usually determined by the public, but the problem is that every citizen has a sense of bias.
  • Social Security and Medicare are the most expensive programs in the federal budget; along with Medicaid, they currently comprise approximately 44% of all federal expenditures (Krieger 126).

Problems of Medicare
  1. people utilize medical services they don't need
  2. doctors and hospitals charge the government too much for their medical services
  3. doctors and hospitals get paid by payment plans that can easily be altered when the government wants to save money
  4. The absence of a means test, which is an investigative process used to determine whether individuals qualify for the benefit of the program
  5. Extremely costly and wasteful practices is an issue.
  6. The upcoming surge in the retiree population (the aging baby-boomer generation born between 1946 and 1964) will most likely render much of Medicare's current benefits unsustainable and deepen the federal deficit.
  7. Because more people are retiring, the benefits must increase as well as the costs which means more taxes
  8. Eventually, it will cost people more money than they can afford

Solutions to fix Medicare
  1. Get rid of Medicare and have doctors and hospitals work for the government instead.
  2. Let the elderly take their Medicare money and buy health insurance from private suppliers.
-Note: In 1999, President Clinton devoted $794 billion to prolong the life of Medicare, although many politicians were against this idea, they could not politically go against such a popular notion. This demonstrates the nature of messing with Medicare; it needs to be fixed, but no one wants to be the one to make the changes.
-One day it will be clear that disease and aging will not be able to be avoided by simply spending more money on the latest technology.
-However this will not stop anyone from proposing health care legislation, because the American people love what they get in return.

Distinctive Features of Social Welfare in the United States
  1. Who benefits? Americans believe only the "deserving poor" should be aided (those who are truly unable to work and support themselves), as opposed to the "redistribution to produce fair shares" policy embraced by European countries (Wilson).
  2. Came about late in American history
  3. When the Social Security act of 1935 was passed, 22 European countries already had similar programs.
  4. Degree to which federalism has shaped national welfare policy - Both Congress and States can do whatever they'd like in the area of social welfare
    1. According to Wilson, state programs have a double-edged effect: provide opponents of federal welfare system (states already provide welfare assistance) and also supplied a lobby for federal financial assistance (state authorities campaign for national legislation to help them).
  5. Most welfare policies are administered through grants and contracts to institutions that aren't involved with the government
  • According to Wilson, large national nonprofit organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Youth Build, Jewish Federation, and Catholic Charities, have received large federal grants and long participated in the administration of federal social programs.
6. Americans have generally taken a more restrictive view of who is entitled to government assistance
- charitable choice: the book says - "name given to four federal laws passed in the late 1990s specifying the conditions under which nonprofit religious organizations could compete to administer certain social service delivery and welfare programs."




TYPES OF AID PROGRAMS
insurance program- self-financing government program based on contributions that provide benefits to unemployed or retired persons. The most common question referred to welfare is someone deserving or undeserving.
-The first kind of welfare programs is majoritarian politics, where nearly everyone benefits and nearly everyone pays.
-The second kind of welfare programs is a kind of client politics, where a few number of people benefit, but almost everyone pays.
Examples:
-Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI)- otherwise known as Social Security is paid for by payroll taxes on workers
-Medicare- the government pays for some costs of medical care for the elderly and disabled, also paid by payroll taxes
assistance program- a government program financed by general income taxes that provides benefits to poor citizens without requiring contribution from them
--An assistance program is means test-based, meaning only those who meet the income qualification can recieve the benefits of an assistance program (Wilson and Dilulio).
Examples:
-Unemployment Insurance- Weekly payments to workers who are not employed, regulated by the states and paid by employers' taxes
-Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)- block grants by the government to low-income families with children
-Supplemental Security Income (SSI)-payments to elderly or disabled people who have low-income
-Food Stamps- vouchers given to low-income people used to buy food
-Medicaid- the government pays medical costs of people who have TANF or SSI aid
-Earned Income Tax Credit- the government gives a cash subsidy to poor working families. The program was expanded in the early 1990s

There are two kinds of programs: no means test and means tested
no means test- available to everybody without regard to income
means tested- an income qualification program that determines whether one is eligible for benefits under government programs usually reserved for lower-income groups
Despite means tests, there are still loopholes that are available which people try to take advantage of by "playing the system." In doing so, many believe that more strict requirements or inquiry should be used to make sure those who are on the system are fully qualified.
-Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance have no means test
-TANF, SSI, Food Stamps, financial aid, and Medicaid are means tested
If a program loses public support, it will go into jeopardy.


Environmental Uncertainties
  • Goals are often unclear; individuals ask themselves "how clean is reasonably clean?" or "how clean is clean enough?" since there are undeniable costs to cleaning up the environment (Wilson)..
  • Environmental policy is very controversial especially since the issues are "shrouded in scientific uncertainty" (Benson and Waples).
  • The means of achieving goals are very complicated (Lots of red tape), which causes delay and therefore bills never getting passed
  • command-and-control strategy: According to Wilson, this is a strategy to improve air and water quality, involving the setting of detailed pollution standards and rules.
  • Three questions must be asked when making environmental policy:
1. What is the problem? The EPA is in charge of determining what problems are at hand that need to be fixed, which often shift around depending on most recent environmental scandals (Wilson 571).
2. What are our goals? The EPA has to be given strict goals that they have to accomplish in order to avoid impossible goals which look bad upon the EPA (Wilson 571).
3. How do we achieve our goals? The EPA has to find the most efficient way to achieve goals that often involve incentives such as offsets, bubble standards, and pollution allowances (Wilson 571-572).

Incentives Involving The Environment
*Offsets: An older company can be bought and closed down by a new company that wishes to open a new plant in an area that already has polluted air in order to offset the new pollution they will generate
*Bubble Standard: The source of air pollution that a company may need to reduce, to fit the standard amount of pollution allowed for a factory to produce, is left to be handled by the company
*Pollution Allowances, or Banks:If a company has a lower amount of pollution than is regulated by law, the company may sell this extra allowance of pollution to another company whom may need it or use it for future plant expansion

Social Security Act of 1935
  • Since private charities and relief programs were overwhelmed in 1929 by the Great Depression, the Social Security Act of 1935 was enacted as part of President Franklin Roosevelt's 'New Deal" (election of 1932 saw Franklin Roosevelt take office & Democratic majority in Congress, likely aiding the passage of the act)
  • Originally only industrial and commercial workers were the only ones benefited, but this changed over time through amendments
  • Provide insurance to unemployed and elderly (workers contribute and later on benefit from contributions)
  • Provide assistance to dependent children, the blind, and the elderly.
  • Most people working for the government do not really qualify for much social security (teachers).
  • Government would tax to provide funds
  • All programs, except for old-age insurance, would be administered by the states
  • Everyone would be eligible for the insurance programs
  • Means tests would be used to measure eligibility
  • Any medical benefits had been omitted in order to ensure that it passed
  • Millions of people today receive food, money, or medicine, through programs largely funded by the federal government.
  • Measures were supposed to be temporary, but some believed that it was the federal government’s job to provide welfare
  • Retired worked who are age 65 and older receive monthly payments from the Social Security fund
  • This act also gave benefits to those that were victims of work related accidents
  • Recipients are entitled to COLA (cost of living adjustment) if the inflation rate exceeds 3 percent in order to maintain a higher standard of living
  • COLA's can be readjusted depending on the situation
    • Long's "Share our Wealth", "Sinclair's "End poverty in California, and Townsend's "Old age program".
    • There was a cabinet committee program which provided insurance for the needy and elderly, assistance of people with handicaps and disabilities, and finally under the means test.
  • 59% of Americans agreed that social security should be counted as a source of retirement income (Wilson, 520).
  • 28 % of Americans agreed that the retirement age should be raised to 70 years of old (Wilson, 520).
Solutions for Social Security
  • Social Security and Medicare are under scrutiny because of the fear that not enough people will pay for Social Security, which will provide benefits for all retired workers.When the Social Security program began, there were 25 workers for every 1 beneficiary. Today, the ratio is 3.3 workers for every beneficiary, which creates a huge funding problem (Krieger 126). However, the solutions presented are opposed by the general public.
  • Little change is predicted though since "the largest block of the electorate is made up of those nearing or at retirement age" (Meltzer and Levy 125).
  • Due to the large wave of incoming Baby-Boomers entering the system, much like with Medicare, many say the system is broken and in need of change.
    • Raise the retirement age to 70.
    • Freeze retirement benefits and raise social security taxes.
    • Continue on with the first two reforms, then allow citizens to invest a portion of their social security taxes into mutual funds.
    • Privatizing social security.
    • Although it may seem like a nice idea to change the way social security, there would be more problems then positive feedback. Fear of fraud and false advertising in private investing could be major problem.

-The National Commission of Social Security Reform was created in 1983 by Ronald Reagan. The suggestions made were adopted by congress and resulted in a surplus in the system.
  • 6 month delay in the cost of living index adjustment in July 1983.
  • Having federal employees contribute to the Social Security System.

Medicare
  • Medicare has two parts: Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance)
  • Everyone who is age 65 years or older is entitled to Part A, but to get Part B you must enroll in the program
  • Part A pays for inpatient visits to hospitals, covering most of the services you receive there for up to 90 days.
  • Part B pays for doctors' services and outpatient hospital care. No limits on the number of visits to the doctors, but the patient must pay an annual $100 deductible and 20% of the cost of each visit.
  • Some of the problems associated with Medicare people use the medical services even when they aren't sick, hospitals and doctors may overcharge the government for their services. To solve these problems (or at least try to), President Clinton created a commission to help but when the commission published its report, he didn't like their conclusions (Wilson and Dilulio).
  • As people age and new life-prolonging technologies are invented, the cost of medicare will increase.
Medicare Act of 1965
  • In the 1964 elections when Lyndon Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater, which resulted in a democratic majority in congress and Conservative Republicans and Southern Democrats had no way to beat the Medicare act. This aided to the passing of this act. This act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson on July 30 1965.
  • Policy entrepreneurs lobbied for national health care plan that would win over a majority of Congress for 30 years.
  • Medicare benefits omitted in 1935 in order to ensure passage of the Social Security Act.
    • The social security act of 1935 was the first law creating a program that used or called for the transfer of income
  • The Medicare Bill applied to the elderly who were over the age of 65 so that costs would be limited, but was soon expanded to pay for the poor too.
  • Medicare has two parts one which covers for the doctor visits but not all the services, the second part pays for the services but the patient must pay 20 percent of the cost.
  • Program would only cover hospital bills so that doctors would not be limited.
  • The original proposal of the program was later broadened to include Medicaid for the poor, as well as payment of doctors' bills for the elderly (Fast Track to a 5).
  • The Ways and Means committee went on to include Medicaid
    • Medicaid provided medical coverage for the poor as well as having the government pay for medical bills



Medicaid
  • provides medical and health-related services for low-income parents, children, seniors and people with disabilities
  • broadened by Ways and Means
  • people that are means tested and receive TANF or SSI payment could apply for this.
  • Each state has its own version of medicaid

COLA
  • Cost of living adjustment
  • Used if the inflation rate exceeds 3 percent for retired workers receiving Social Security (Otherwise, people with fixed social security incomes would be severely hurt by a rise in the price level).

Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
  • Attitudes about welfare have been changing ever since they have came into existence a good example of this is when AFDC came about in 1935 and ended up being erased because it wasn't seen as effective.
  • The Federal Government allowed the states to
    • define need
    • set benefit levels
    • administer the program
  • Under the AFDC program, recipients were provided with Medicaid, job-training programs, and provide child-care programs.
  • In addition, as time progressed Washington also added the following additional benefits that AFDC recipients were eligible for. These included: Food Stamps, Earned income tax credit, free school meals, etc. These additions and substitutions helped to turn public opinion against AFDC.
    • Earned Income Tax Credit: a provision of the 1975 law that entitles working families with children to receive money from the government if their total income is below a certain level. The program was expanded in the early 1990s (Wilson and Dilulio).
  • Public opinion turned against the program; they believed that the majority of AFDC caseloads were undeserving, unmarried black mothers, although statistics show that this was incorrect.
    • Actually turned out to increase the number of people that were living in poverty.(Wilson & Dilulio)
  • Recipients of aid became dependent upon aid - many were unwed mothers who had been on the program for eight or more years.
  • Because of the shift in public opinion, states faced more constraints due to federal regulations including the implementation of food stamps and Earned Income Tax Credit. Earned Income Tax Credit is a cash grant given to employed poverty level parents.
  • Unlike other countries America has been slow in obtaining welfare and other smaller agencies to play apart in welfare also.
  • The AFDC kept losing political legitimacy, and was eventually abolished in 1966. Its abolition serves as an example of how public opinions and perceptions can change policy.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • TANF replaced the debunked AFDC.
Some debated that AFDC increased the amount of people receiving welfare because the benefits of the program were more attractive than actually working (Wilson).
  • States are given a federal block grant in order to assist in the payment of TANF.
  • There is a receiving limit of five years for those in the program.
  • Women who decline to identify the father of their children will receive less aid
  • If an unwed mother is under the age of 18 she will not be able to receive aid unless she lives with her parents and continues to attend school.
  • TANF requires its recipients to work, receive vocational training or participate in community service.
  • One key reason that Americans are so willing to give in is so that the recipients might receive these benefits and make good use of them.

Health Care
  • one of the most vexing problems for policy makers is what to do about the high cost of health care ( The Princeton Review)
  • Americans spend more than 17% of the nation's GDP, on health care.
  • The US has the most expensive health care system in the world and is the only fully industrialized nation without a national health care program.
  • An ill-fated attempt at health care reform was made in the first Clinton administration.
  • Voters seem to want increase coverage but show little incentive to want to pay for it. (Levy and Meltzer)
  • There is no concrete consensus on whether health benefits should be privatized or publicized. (Levy and Meltzer)

Interest Group Politics
-In 1935 labor unions sought the right to organize, bargain collectively with industry and compel workers to join unions.
- Business firms opposed the plan, but they ultimately lost, resulting in the Wagner Act.
- The Wagner Act created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
-NLRB was responsible for regulating the conduct of union organizing drives and to hear complaints about unfair labor practices.

-Today, Americans prefer the service strategy over the income strategy. Probably since Americans don't believe that the poor will use the money efficiently.
-service strategy: providing the poor with education and [[#|job training]] to help them out of poverty
-income strategy: giving poor people money to help them out of poverty
According to Wilson, the politics of policy issues can be affected by changes in people's perceptions concerning who bears the burdens and who receives the benefits.

THE ENVIRONMENT
  • A large oil spill in Santa Barbara was a major catalyst for the Environmental movement
  • Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring, which talked about the effect of pesticides (DDT in this case) on the environment, also helped spark the environmental movement.
  • The media helps the public know of issues like oil spills or pollution, driving the public in turn to act and change the government and its policies.
  • Environmental Impact Statement: a report requires by federal law that assesses the possible effect of a project on the environment if the project is subsidized in whole or part by federal funds
  • Command-and-control strategy: a strategy to improve air and water quality, involving the setting of detailed pollution standards and rules.

Environmental Policy in the U.S.
  • There has been more controversy over environmental policy making in the U.S. than in the European countries
    • There are bitter and lasting effects due to environmental policy, such as with the Clean Air Act, which called for updated and more expensive technology for cars and strict deadlines for auto businesses.
  • environmental issues tend to be controversial because many of these issues deal with scientific uncertainty
  • Environmental issues cover all policy-making styles such as entrepreneurial, majoritarian, interest group, and client politics
  • Environmental policies are mainly operated by the states
  • The growing environmental movement, fueled by the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbra California, created Earth Day on April 22, 1970. The growing movement was one of the main causes of the EPA forming.
  • The EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency (created in the 1970s), plays a vital role in helping to establish and implement environmental policy
    • The EPA must tackle issues and create policy by deciding what is the problem, whats are the costs and benefits, what are the goals, and how to achieve the goals.
  • In order to reduce air pollution, the Clean Air Acts of 1970 and 1990 were implemented.
    • These demands first imposed in 1970 were somewhat unachievable, and were postponed to 1990 when the technology was more readily available. The demands for these quality standards have slowly been met.
  • In order to clean up the nation's lakes and rivers, the Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 was created
Policy Concerns:
- The media plays a big role in dramatizing and getting people's attention on environmental issues
  • according to Wilson, the public thinks wrongly that the environment has become worse in the last few decades. Actually levels of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and lead has been reduced although improvement in water quality is questionable


Environmental Issues
  • Entrepreneurial politics
-Issues such as global warming and endangered species are examples of entrepreneurial politics. Activists used the media to dramatize the issue, and they tried to convince members of Congress that if they did not cast the right vote their reputation was on the line. The Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997 pledging to lower emissions of greenhouse gases by 30%. However, President Bush opposed it because in trying to meet the goal the United States' burden would fall more heavily since it is such an industrialized nation. Another example would be the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which forbade the killing of protected species and their habitats. This was passed due to the well-organized efforts of environmentalists. Firms and agencies that want to build something that may harm an endangered species must comply with federal regulations.
  • Majoritarian politics
- The Clean Air Act of 1970 serves as an example of Majoritarian politics. The act put restrictions on automobile emissions, which many supported in the beginning, but when it was changed the public started to oppose it. Areas where smog was a heavy problem there would have to be a need for restriction for the use of public cars. This showed that the public will not support environmental when they have to pay the costs themselves. This illustrates the classic conflict between people's wants and people's lack of want to bear the burdens. Government, then, must delegate according to the people's shifting moods, moods especially significant environmentally.
    • Initially the auto emissions control rules followed the pattern of entrepreneurial politics in that the public had the support of the media and demanded that automobile companies to make their cars less polluting (Wilson 564).
    • In densely populated cities such as Los Angeles and New York the government had to impose bans on downtown parking and mandatory use of buses and carpools in order to further reduce emissions whereas just selling less polluting cars couldn't completely do by itself (Wilson 565).
  • These extra rules failed mainly because there was so much opposition to them and they rarely worked the way they were supposed to (Wilson 565).
- The National Environmental Policy Act (1969) which basically established the need for federal agencies to create and environmental impact statement (EIS) before undertaking an activity that can significantly change the quality of the human environment (Wilson 565). The use of EIS allows environmental activists to slow down or stop a project such as the construction of bridges or the drilling of oil based on an insufficient EIS. This gives some of the power to the people and slightly limits the government's power to negatively impact the environment
- Gasoline taxes are also an example of majoritarian politics. If there is a rise in gasoline taxes, then it would reduce the number of people who would drive cars, thus reducing the amount of smog in the air. However, the public tends to be hesitant to be for such a policy since the public must actually pay the tax and only observe the benefits of it in the long run (Benson and Waples).
  • Interest group politics
- A good example of interest group politics in environmental issues would be the issue with acid rain. Acid rains acidified lakes in the east as well as several eastern forest. Both Canada and new England wanted financial benefits because they felt that the power plants were at fault since it could have been prevented, but wasn't because it would have been expensive for the power plants. in the end Congress found a workable compromise where they installed smokestack scrubbers in the power plants. This pleased both sides, and it showed that when a problem that deals with interest group arises Congress is more likely to come to a compromise than to pass sweeping legislation.
  • Client politics
- An example of client politics with in environmental issues would be how farmers have "successfully resisted efforts to sharply restrict the use of pesticides." Two reasons why many pesticides have not been restricted from the United States is because the effects on humans is undetermined, and because farmers have powerful supporters in Congress.
-According to Wilson, another kind of client politics is in the timber industry, because wood product companies and loggers want access to forests under the control of the U.S Forest Service.
Why Is Environmental Policy So Controversial?
  • It creates both losers and winners
    • Losers may be interest groups or citizens but could also be people who do not want to pay the costs (ex: auto exhaust control)
  • Many people are uncertain about the accuracy of scientific facts about the environment
  • Causes the federal government to deal with states and other nations
  • According to Benson and Waples environmental policy is different from politics in other countries such as adversarial political culture, conflict between government and business, and the distribution of monitoring standards to the states.
  • It encourages emotional appeals that may lead to distorted priorities.
    • Environmentalists, in a sense, have emotional appeals that blackmail the populace into fulfilling their demands. Pathos (with an emotional emphasis on facts) is their main appeal to legislation.
  • Many citizens are disturbed by the effects of “protecting” nature and the wild life that their rights are depreciated. Endangered animals living in dirt make Mr. McHenry walk more!!!
  • Environmental policies usually place higher costs of production on corporations and industries, which may have a negative economic effect. (However, some economists may view pollution as a negative externality and therefore conclude that environmental policies will help the economy.)

Major Environmental Laws
  • Smog- Clean Air Act
    • EPA sets national air quality standards and states must develop plans to attain them.
    • All states must have an auto pollution inspection system.
    • classified cities on severity of smog and sets deadlines for meeting federal requirements
  • Water- Clean Water Acts of various years state that there is to be no discharge of wastewater into lakes and streams without a federal permit (Wilson).
  • Toxic Wastes- EPA is to clean up abandoned dump sites with money raised by tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and from general revenues i.e. Superfund (Wilson).
  • Food Quality Protection Act (1996)--Designed to ensure that levels of pesticide residues meet strict standards for public health protection.
  • Environmental Impact Statements (EIS): all federal agencies are required to submit an EIS before taking on a project to outline the environmental effects of such projects (Wilson 564).
  • Toxic Substance Control Act (1976)--Authorizes EPA to regulate the manufacture and distribution of certain toxic chemicals
  • Regulation is required because private businesses tend to produce pollution at levels greater than the socially optimal quantity.
  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)- basic pesticide regulations to protect users, consumers, and the environment.
  • Safe Drinking Water Act- ensures clean, safe drinking water. SDWA applies to every public water system to ensure clean drinking water.


Who should deserve to benefit from Social Welfare?
- Social welfare is believed to only be benefited by those who cannot help themselves. However the view of "who should deserve" has changed and some believe that the poor should be provided with services but not money.
- Most of the welfare programs in America is to help people with disabilities.
- Some Americans believe that people should work for benefits, not just receive them
The American People believe that helping the needy and people who can't help themselves is a good thing. However if money is given to them as a way of welfare, then there will be a group of "welfare chiselers". So Americans believe that we should provide service rather than money for the poor. This is reflected in the service strategy where providing poor people with education and job training is used as a social welfare policy.
According to Wilson, needy children and other at-risk youth might well prove to be politically popular, and be more widely perceived as "deserving" government aid than baby-boomers.
The attitude towards the "poor" has also changed in regards to who should deserve help. In the 1930's attention was brought towards helping "deserving" poor rather than those considered "undeserving." Progressively this attitude has loosened up a bit and the deserving now applies to most of the poor. This is important because it has led to people relying solely on the government for help.

The Two Kind of Welfare Programs:
- Majoritarian Politics: everyone pays and everyone benefits. (Ex: Social Security Act and Medicare Act)
  • The program will be adopted under two conditions: if benefits exceed costs and if political elites believe that its adoption is legitimate (Wilson 523).
  • question of legitimacy for Social Security in 1935: conservatives argue that nothing in the Constitution authorized the federal government to spend money in this manner. They believed this was a policy area reserved for the states. Liberals rejoined that the federal government had an obligation to help people avoid poverty in their old age. Liberals also argued Social Security was not a federal expenditure since the government was just collecting payments and holding them in a trust fund until those who paid them were ready to retire.
  • question of legitimacy for Medicare in 1965: Conservatives argued any federal involvement in medical care would subject doctors/hospitals to endless red tape and would harm doctor-patient relationship. Liberals believed only the federal government had resources to provide assistance to the elderly who had health needs they could not meet
- Client politics: everyone pays but only a few benefits. (Ex: AFDC or the Aids to Families with Dependent Children program)
  • beneficiaries have changed: 1996-2003, able-bodied adults had a harder time getting benefits, but child care spending in most states has risen by 50% or more.
  • TANF program is an example of client politics
- There exists problems with each of these two kinds of politics:
- Majoritarian Politics are debated over due to questions of legitimacy, as shown above.
- Client Politics is under attack based on the costs and the arguments of people such as Charles Murray.
  • According to Charles Murray welfare programs have increased the desire for people to avoid looking for a job and increased the desire of women to have children, in or out of wedlock. This not only wastes money on people not willing to work for a living, but it takes it away from those who can not work and fosters bad habits in American citizens.(there is no evidence to support Murray's claims)
  • Becoming pregnant was "attractive" in AFDC, and was removed, and then replaced with TANF
  • Murray and other critics claimed that welfare actually increased the number of people living in poverty, because high welfare benefits made it more attractive to stay/ go on social welfare.
  • Some scholars disagree with Murray and have argued that he has no direct evidence that welfare increased family breakups, and that the number of illegitimate children grew during a period when social welfare, in real dollars (not nominal), was decreasing.
-At one point women saw it to be more favorable top get pregnant than to get married, in order to get some sort of child support benefits.

Welfare Reform Act (1996)
  • under the new law, social-welfare programs are funded by both state and federal governments, with the federal government contributing the greatest share in the form of block grants.
  • Of course it wasn't the cure to welfare, but it allowed the welfare system to be rebuilt and resulted in more productivity then before.
  • The intent of the law is to reduce the welfare roles and force people to find work.
  • accomplished by
    • prohibiting aliens from receiving assistance
    • placing a lifetime limit of 5 yrs of welfare eligibility, although it is possible to get a waiver if a recipient is actively seeking work.
    • requiring adults to find work within two years or be cut off

Reforming Welfare Programs
-Reforming welfare programs is difficult because most solutions are are opposed to the public.
-Soon there will be an insufficient number of people paying Social Security taxes to provide benefits for retired folks. Wilson estimates that by 2020 payroll taxes will have have to double in order to provide for retirees.(pg 520)
  • There are three solutions to solve the problem: The first involves three moves: raising the retirement age to 70, freezing the amount of retirement benefits, and raising Social Security taxes. The second solution would be to privatize Social Security. The third solution would be to use the first two changes and in addition, permit citizens to invest some of their Social Security taxes in carefully chosen mutual funds.
-In a national survey conducted in 1997, 80% agree that workers should be able to shift some Social Security tax payments into personal retirement accounts that they would invest on their own (Wilson and Dilulio 520).
- Less than 48% believe people should invest some of their Social Security tax payments in stock market, with benefits higher or lower than expected depending on stock market's performance (Wilson and Dilulio 520).


Social Welfare
  • Service Strategy- a policy providing poor people with education and job training to help lift them out of poverty
    • this practice has been promoted and encouraged since simply providing "free" services and aid might encourage families to slack off
  • Income Strategy- a policy giving poor people money to help lift them out of poverty
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)- a provision of a 1975 law that entitles working families with children to receive money form the government if their total income is below a certain level. The program was expanded in the early 1990s.
  • The politics of the policy process is always hard to predict.
  • In the years ahead it may become more important to provide benefits for needy children and at risk youth because the are more deserving government aid, rather than the old baby boom era retirees.
    • The clients of the programs benefiting the old lost the legitimacy they once had in order for their programs to prosper thus old-age benefits have become "bad politics" (Wilson 526)
  • Earned Income Tax Credit: A program that gives money to working families with children if their income falls below a specific level (Wilson, 522). Examples:free school meals, various housings assistance, and other benefits.

Social Welfare policy in the United States in shaped by four factors:
  • Americans take a restrictive view on who is entitled to government assistance
  • The United States has been less progressive than other countries when it comes to embracing the welfare state.
  • The federal government insists on the states to have a large role in the running welfare programs.
  • Private organizations play a large role in welfare.
  • Gainers and losers vary as the composition of society and the workings of the economy change, and beliefs about who deserves what are modified as attitudes towards work, the family, and obligations of government change.

Obstacles to Policy Making
  • policy fragmentation occurs when legislation only deals with small parts of a bigger problem, which may lead to unresolved issues and conflicts (Meltzer and Levy 120)

  1. ^ Wilson, James Q., and John J. Dilulio. American Government: Institutions and Policies. Tenth ed. Boston, MA: Charles Hartford, 2006. Print.