AP Gov - Policy

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Public Policy

The course of action the government takes in response to an issue or problem.

Politics

The interaction of the people an their government, including citizens, interest groups, political parties, and the institutions of the government - concerned with who gets what, when, where, and how from the government.

Distributive Property

A public policy such as Social Security that provides benefits to all groups in society.

Redistributive Property

A policy that provides to one group of society while taking away benefits for another through policy tools such as tax increases to pay for job training.

Zero-Sum Games

Policy that takes away exactly as much in benefits as another group gains.

Counterdistributive Policy

A policy that reduced benefits for all groups such as a tax increase in society, often by imposing rules that govern everyone.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

A study that compares the costs and benefits of a policy proposal to society for providing a public good.

Nondecision

A decision not to move ahead with the policy process. In short, it is a decision not to decide.

Policy Agenda

The list of issues that the federal government pays attention to.

Think Tank

A nongovernmental organization that seeks to influence public policy through research and education.

Issue-Attention Cycle

The movement of public opinion toward public policy from initial enthusiasm for action to realization of costs and a decline in interest.

Incremental Policy

Small adjustments to existing public policies.

Punctuating Policy

Radical changes to public policy that occur only after the mobilization of large segments of society to demand action (also called Comprehensive Policy).

Iron Triangle

A policy making instrument composed of a tightly related alliance of a congressional committee, interest groups, and a federal department or agency.

Issue Network

A policy-making alliance among loosely connected participants (interest groups, congressional committees, presidential aides, and other parties) that comes together on a particular issue, then disband.

Regulation

A police that encourages or discourages certain behavior by imposing a legally-binding rule.

Rule

A precise statement of how a law is implemented.

Material Benefits

Anything that can be measured monetarily such as goods, services or even money. Offered by groups to attract members.

Symbolic Benefits

Efforts to educate the public, study an issue, appoint a blue-ribbon commission, or highlight the need for future action - Highlight an emerging issue and create citizen action.

Third-Party Government

Made up of four sources: private businesses, colleges and universities, state and local governments, and charitable organizations.

Federal Register

An official document, published every weekday, which lists the new and proposed regulations of executive departments and regulatory agencies.

Fiscal Policy

The federal government efforts to keep the economy stable by increasing or decreasing taxes or government spending.

Monetary Policy

Government policy that attempts to manage the economy by controlling the money supply and thus interest rates.

Business Cycle

Recurring fluctuations in economic activity consisting of recession and recovery and growth and decline.

Expansion

Time during which the economy produces new jobs and growth.

Contraction

Time during which the economy starts to slow down.

Recession

Time during which the economy reaches a trough of slow growth.

Recovery

Time during which the economy rebounds.

Inflation

A rise in the general price level (and decrease in dollar value) owing to an increase in the volume of money and credit in relation to available goods.

Unemployment

The number of Americans who are out of work but actively looking for a job. The number does not usually include those who are not looking.

Stagflation

A combination of an economic slowdown (stagnation) and a rise in prices (inflation).

Consumer Price Index

Shows how much more or how much less consumers are paying for the same goods over time.

Unemployment Rate

The percent/portion of people in the labor force who are not working.

Gross Domestic Product

The total value of goods and services produced within the borders of a country during a specific time period, usually one year.

Excise Taxes

A consumer tax on a specific kind of merchandise, such as tobacco.

Payroll Taxes

Taxes that are deducted from your paycheck - may be for Social Security.

Individual Income Taxes

A tax on a person's earnings.

Corporate Income Taxes

Taxes paid by companies on their profits.

Budget Deficit

Condition that arise when federal expenditures exceed revenues.

Tariff

A tax levied on imports to help protect a nation's industries, labor, or farmers form foreign competition. It can also be used to raise additional revenue.

Progressive Tax

A tax graduated so that people with higher incomes pay a larger fraction of their income than people with lower incomes.

Regressive Tax

A tax whereby people with lower incomes pay a higher fraction of their income than people with higher incomes.

National Debt

The total amount of money the federal government has borrowed to finance deficit spending over the years.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Presidential staff agency that serves as a clearinghouse for budgetary requests and management improvements for government agencies.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO)

An agency of Congress that analyzed presidential budget recommendations and estimates the costs of proposed legislation.

Tax Expenditures

Loss of tax revenue due to laws that provide tax incentives or benefits to individuals or businesses.

Graduated Income Tax

A tax on personal income in which the tax rate increases as income increases; in other words, the tax rate is higher for higher income levels.

Sales Tax

General tax on sales transactions, sometimes exempting food and drugs.

Value-Added Tax (VAT)

A tax on increased value of a product at each stage of production and distribution rather than just at the point of sale.

Federal Reserve System (Fed)

The system created by Congress in 1913 to establish banking practices and regulate currency in circulation and the amount of credit available. It consists of 12 regional banks supervised by the Board of Governors.

Federal Funds Rate

The amount of interest bank charge for loans to each other.

Prime Rate

Rate of interest banks charge on short-term loans to their best customers.

Laissez-Faire Economics

Theory that opposes governmental interference in economic affairs beyond what is necessary to protect life and property.

Keynesian Economics

Economic theory based on the principles of John Maynard Keynes stating that government spending should increase during business slumps and be curbed during booms.

Supply-Side Economics

Theory that tax cuts are better for creating a strong economy - based on the notion that tax cuts increase the supply on money in the economy, which stimulates economic growth.

Subsidies

A grant or contribution of money, especially one made by a government in support of an undertaking or the upkeep of a beneficial project.

Protectionism

Policy of erecting trade barriers to protect domestic industry.

Trade Deficit

An imbalance in international trade in which the value of imports exceeds the value of exports.

Dumping

Selling products below the cost of manufacturing or below their domestic price with the intention of driving other producers out of the market and then raising prices to profitable levels.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

An international organization derived from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that promotes free trade around the world.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

An international trade organization with more than 130 members that seeks to encourage free trade by lowering tariffs and other trade restrictions.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Agreement signed by the United States, Canada, and Mexico in 1992 to form the largest free trade zone in the world.

Monopoly

Domination of an industry by a single company; also the company that dominates the industry.

Antitrust Legislation

Federal laws (starting with the Sherman Act of 1890) that tried to prevent a monopoly from dominating an industry and restraining trade.

Oligopoly

A market structure in which a few large firms dominate a market.

Trust

A monopoly that controls goods and services, often in combinations that reduce competition.

Public Contracts

Requires workers employed under contracts with the federal government be paid at least the average or prevailing wage for that job, an that they be paid overtime for all work in excess of 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week - Walsh-Healy At of 1936

Interlocking Directorates

Members of the board of directors of one corporation who also sit on the board(s) of other corporations.

Closed Shop

A company with a labor agreement under which union membership is a condition of employment.

Union Shop

A company in which new employees must join a union within a stated time period.

Labor Injunction

A court order forbidding specific individuals or groups from performing certain acts (such as striking) that the court considers harmful to the rights and property of an employer or a community.

Collective Bargaining

Method whereby representatives of the union and employer determine wages, hours, and other conditions of employment through direct negotiation.

Environmental Impact Statement

Statement required by Federal law from all agencies for any project using Federal funds to assess the potential affect of the new construction or development on the environment.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Efforts by corporations to improve their reputations by paying attention to their contributions to the social good.

Deregulation

A policy promoting cutbacks in the amount of federal regulation in specific areas of economic activity.

Rugged Individualism

The government, whether local, state, or federal, play only a limited role in people's lives.

Entitlements

Programs such as unemployment insurance, disaster relief, or disability payments that provide benefits to all eligible citizens.

Means-Tested Entitlement

Programs such as Medicaid and Welfare under which applicants must meet eligibility requirements based on need.

Categorical Aid

Grants by Congress to states and localities, given with the condition that expenditures be limited to a problem or group specified by the national government.

Social Safety Net

The many programs that the federal government provides to protect Americans against economic and social misfortune.

Public Assistance

Aid to the poor; "welfare."

Social Insurance

Programs in which eligibility is based on prior contributions to government, usually in the form of payroll taxes.

Social Security

A combination of entitlement programs, paid for by employer and employee taxes, that includes retirement benefits, health insurance, and support for disabled workers and the children of deceased or disabled workers.

Medicare

National health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

Medicaid

Federal program that provides medical benefits for low-income persons.

Food Stamps

government-issued coupons that recipients exchange for food.

Head Start

A preschool program designed to help poor children get ready for kindergarten.

Supplemental Security Income

Created in 1972 to provide an extra measure of support for the elderly, the poor, and the blind or disabled. The program provides monthly benefit checks ranging from $1 to roughly $800 and is administered by the Social Security Administration.

Health Management Organization

An alternative means of health care in which people or their employers are charged with a set amount and the organization provides health care and covers hospital costs.

Required Employer Coverage

Benefits, such as medical insurance, that businesses are required to cover for their employees.

Spending Caps

Government instituted regulations on annual spending.

Medical Savings Account

Alternative means of health care in which individuals make tax-deductible contributions to a special account that can be used to pay medical expenses.

Realism

A theory of international relations that focuses on the tendency of nations to operate from self-interest.

Idealism

A theory of international relations that focuses on the hope that nations will act together to solve international problems and will promote peace.

Isolationism

The desire to avoid international engagement altogether.

Internationalism

The belief that nations must engage in international problem solving.

Unilateralism

A philosophy that encourages individual nations to act on their own when facing threats from other nations.

Bush Doctrine

A policy adopted by the Bush administration in 2001 that asserts America's right to attack any nation that has weapons of mass destruction that might be used against U.S. interests at home or abroad.

Multilateralism

A philosophy that encourages individual nations tacked together to solve international problems.

Preemption

A policy of taking action before the United States is attacked rather than waiting for provocation.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Biological, Chemical, or Nuclear weapons that can cause a massive number of deaths in a single use.

Hard Power

The reliance on economic and military strength to solve international problems.

Soft Power

The reliance on diplomacy and negotiation to solve international problems.

Theory of Deterrence

A theory that is based on creating enough military strength to convince other nations not to attack first.

Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)

Idea that both sides would face certain destruction in a nuclear war.

Jihad

Covers everything from the personal quest to attain perfect faith to a violent struggle to protect or expand Islam.

Globalization

The trend toward increased cultural and economic connectedness between people, businesses, and organizations throughout the world (usually causes economic dependence).

Normal Trade Relations

Trade status granted as part of an international trade policy that gives a nation the same favorable trade concessions and tariffs that the best trading partners receive.

Reporting

Based on close and rigorous observation of developments around the world.

Analysis

The attempt to detect meaningful patterns in what was observed int he past and to understand what appears to be going on now.

Dissemination

Getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

Intelligence Community

The government agencies that gather information about the capabilities and intentions of foreign governments or that engage in convert actions (CIA, State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Defense Department's Defense Intelligence Agency).

Economic Sanctions

Denial of export, import, or financial relations with a target country in an effort to change that nation's policies.

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