77 terms

Politics Final Review


Terms in this set (...)

national poverty rate
14.5% --> 46 million people (would make up the 30th largest nation in the world)
who is most likely in poverty?
- most common among female-headed households (30% versus only 6% of married households)
- Blacks/Hispanics are much more likely to be in poverty than whites (28% blacks, 25% hispanics, 10% whites)
- NOT the aged... they are actually below the national poverty rate
how is poverty calculated?
using income, not wealth (so it doesn't count the net worth of all one's possessions, just their income)
how is poverty experienced?
mostly in an episodic way. only 5% are chronic or permanent poor
poverty today...
lowest level since the dot.com bust in 2000; started to slightly decrease a couple years ago
states with the highest poverty level...
1. Mississippi
2. New Mexico
3. Louisiana
4. Arkansas
5. Georgia

*Virginia is 44th (12%) and Pennsylvania is 32nd (13%)
different political references to the economy...
"shrinking middle class" (Republican: they like a less centralized gov't and if they agree there is a wealth gap, they would possibly be giving the gov't the power to fix it) verse widening wealth gap (Democratic)
Great Recession
- median net worth dropped to a 43-year low
- of jobs lost, 60% were middle-income jobs
attitudes about money and poverty
- aspirational (Americans admire people who get rich by working hard)
- entitlements (expect the social welfare... believe they are entitled to it)
- over 2/3 of society believes Americans depend too much on financial assistance
Social Security
The federal government's Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance program; for all employed Americans it is a compulsory program.

Created as a gov't safety net to prevent the elderly from starving. It was NOT created as a retirement plan.
payroll tax
Tax that is levied on and withheld from an employee's wages to pay for unemployment compensation systems -- controlled by the states
supplemental security income (SSI)
Direct federal cash assistance to the needy, aged, blind and disable. But "disabled" is loosely defined and includes people like alcoholics and drug abusers, so the number of SSI recipients has steadily increased.
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families: Federal aid for state programs of cash assistance to poor families. Represents the "devolution" of responsibility to the states. Now referred to as Family Assistance.
earned income tax credit
A "negative" income tax... A refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families; when the EITC amount exceeds taxes owed, a refund is made to those who have applied for the credit when filing their income tax.
housing assistance
section 8 vouchers and public housing projects
why reform welfare?
Political conflict over welfare policy arises in part from a clash of values over individual responsibility and social compassion. But the very existence of welfare has been debated since it was first began.
reasons people argue against welfare
- work disincentives: employment was uncertain while assistance was not
- social dependency: about half the people on welfare are permanently poor
where did welfare reform really come from?
Bill Clinton with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996

The act...
- Created TANF
- Gave more responsibility to the states
- Increased funding for child care
- States had to prove they tried to maintain welfare
- Adults were required to work if they weren't dependent or disabled
- Welfare to Work ended the concept of lifetime reliance of gov't assistance
Federal health insurance for the aged. BUT this doesn't pay for nursing home care, so some aged people "spend down" their savings to qualify for medicaid, which does cover that.
Federal aid to the states to provide health insurance for the poor.
differences between focus of governor and mayor...
governor concerns: natural emergencies, state bureaucracy, education policy, prisons, infrastructure (roads, esp. potholes)
mayor concerns: crime, infrastructure (sewage, water, etc.), any other emergencies

** politics for some mayors are more difficult than for governors because American cities are naturally diverse
forms of local gov't
- traditional commission form: voters elect a council, which also serves as the board of commissioners that directly supervises city departments
- council-manager: voters elect a council that appoints a city manager to function as the chief executive (a mayor is also appointed, but is kinda just a figurehead)
- weak mayor-council: voters elect a council who appoints a mayor
- strong mayor-council: voters elect a council that exercises legislative power, but city departments are supervised by a separately elected mayor
lower voter turnout is expected with...
- nonpartisan electoral systems
- council-manager form of gov't
- city elections held separately from state and national elections
- small or middle-sized cities
- middle-class, homogeneous cities
- no issue on the ballot
higher voter turnout is expected with...
- partisan elections with competitive parties
- strong mayor form of gov't
- city elections held concurrently with state and national elections
- large cities
- ethnic, heterogeneous cities
- issues on the ballot
referenda voting
In local gov't, usually voters deciding whether or not to approve a bond issue or to increase taxation for a specific project. (Not a thing on the national level)
other things often on local ballots
- school funds
- bond issues
- sports stadiums
- amenities (e.g. museums, parks, libraries, etc.)
The ideal citizen: direct citizen participation in community affairs, not just by voting, but also by working as part of groups or on forums to solve problems in the community.
machine politics
A tightly disciplined political organization, historically centered in big cities, which traded patronage jobs, public contracts, services and favors for votes.
A general reference to efforts to eliminate political machines, patronage (gov't granting gov't jobs to political supporters) and party influence, and to install professional city management, nonpartisan elections, at-large districts and the merit system.
city manager
The chief executive of a city gov't, who is appointed ("hired") by the city council and responsible to it. Role began strictly as an administrator, but today, he/she is the manager of all departments. Runs the day-to-day gov't schedule, allowing council and mayor to be part-time.
elite model of community power
The theory that power is concentrated in the hands of relatively few people, usually top business and financial leaders. This "elite" is subject to relatively little influence from the "masses" of people. Politicians did not run the city.
pluralist model of community power
The theory that power is widely dispersed with different leaders in different issue areas responding to the wishes of various interest groups as well as voters. It's not about individuals but organized groups. And these groups may have power for some time then fade away.
keystone of land use management
zoning (tries to ensure placement makes sense)
zoning ordinance
Regulations that divide communities into various residential, commercial and industrial zones, and that require landowners to use their and in conformity with the regulators for the zone in which it is located.
Plans for subdividing land and for improvements that must be submitted to a planning commission for approval before deeds can be recorded.
official map
Shows proposed and existing streets, water mains, public utilities and other public facilities; must be approved by city council.
eminent domain
The judicial process by which gov't can take private property for public use by providing fair compensation. It is a constitutional protection to American citizens against arbitrary gov't seizure of their land.
progressive taxes
Taxes that require high-income groups to pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes than low-income groups (e.g. tiered income tax)
regressive taxes
Taxes that take a larger share of the income of low-income groups than of high-income groups (e.g. property taxes, state/local sales tax)
taxes as revenue
Property tax is the most important source of revenue for local communities. Sales tax is the most important source of tax revenue for state gov'ts.
progressive state income tax
Income tax rates rise with increases in income--based on the ability to pay principle.
**Only 7 states don't tax individual income
other types of taxes...
- excise tax (e.g. gas), sometimes called "sin" tax (e.g. cigarettes)
- corporate income tax
- lottery and gambling
- user charges (like charges for water, garbage collection, toll roads, etc) **Fastest growing source of revenue
property taxes
Even if you don't own the property, you're stilling paying property tax--your landlord just works it into your rent. This is often a regressive tax. High-income groups often have property that they don't get taxed on (like stocks, bonds, mutual funds). However, this is about the only realistic form of significant tax collection for local gov'ts.
**Pay property twice a year in a huge lump sum
places exempt from property taxes
educational institutions, churches, charities, other non-profits and (sometimes and most controversially) new businesses
sales tax
Some states completely exempt food, medicine or other necessities. There are some selective sales taxes like a Motor Fuel Tax or sin taxes.
**Pay sales tax a little bit on each purchase, so you only really notice it with large purchases
major education policies
No Child Left Behind: Bush in 2001 (testing as a means to improve performance)
Race to the Top: Obama in 2009 (turned it into a competition between schools, rewarding funds to those who improved the most)
Every Child Achieves: Obama in 2015
school voucher debate
- parent's choice
- promotes competition among schools
- helpful to poor and disadvantage kids, giving them options

- disrupts educational planning (supplies/class size)
- schools perceived inferior don't have a change to recoverer. people jump ship
Mizzou rally (#concernedstudent1950)
The event turned into a protest of the media. First of all, it is public property, so the media had a right to be there. Second of all, it was a student rally, so why was the professor even trying to control anything? The event ultimately detracted from their cause and their message was lost.
white flight
The movement of white residents away from central cities to suburbs in response to increasing numbers and percentages of minorities in neighborhoods and schools in central cities.
Civil Rights Acts of 1964
- unlawful to discriminate or segregate based on race
- federal departments to take action to end discrimination in programs or activities receiving federal aid
- unlawful for employer to not hire based on race
affirmative action
Programs pursued by governments or private businesses to overcome the results of past discriminatory treatment of minorities and/or women by giving these groups special or preferential treatment in employment, promotion, admissions and so forth.
before there were constitutions in America, there was this kind of document, granted by the English crown or its agents
- dispersal of power among leaders
- increased participation of citizens
- improved gov't efficiency
- increased policy responsiveness and innovation

- confusion about responsibility
- obstructed action on national issues
- uneven distribution of gov't costs and benefits across the nation
Baker v. Carr
U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1962 that declared the "one person, one vote" principle to guide the drawing of election district lines. By requiring districts to have equal populations, the decision transferred political power from rural to urban districts, increasing minority representation.
four types of law
- Constitutional law
- Common / Civil law
- Statutory law
- Regulatory law
limits on the power of a governor
- term limits
- number of other elected officials
- votes required to overrule governor's veto
line item veto
The power of a governor to reject certain portions of a legislative appropriations bill without killing the entire bill. **Only available on local level
Action taken by the government to remove a governor for legal reasons (e.g. Blagojevich of Illinois was impeached for selling Obama's senate seat)
The voters vote to remove the governor before his/her term expires (e.g. California governor Gray Davis was recalled before putting Arnold Schwarzenegger in office)
**Allowed by 18 states
besides laws, what's the other main category of work individual legislators do?
constituent service
state legislature names
the combination of the upper and lower chambers are known as either the General Assembly or Legislature
Voting Rights Act of 1965
federal law credited with increased minority representation in state legislatures
unicameral vs. bicameral legislature
Unicameral legislature has only one chamber. Nebraska is the only state with unicameral legislature. All other states have bicameral legislature, which includes upper and lower chambers.
term limits
- prevents "career politicians" from keeping power

- sitting governor who can't run again becomes a lame duck
- governor may not be allowed to run again, even if that's what the people want

**About 3 in 10 states have term limits
- better educated staff who are more informed to make decisions

- it was never meant to be a job
- staff has more of a political influence
legislative apportionment
- allocation of seats to specific populations
- redrawing of state legislative congressional district boundary lines to reflect population changes and comply with "one person, one vote"
"responsible party" vs. more open primary system
In the responsible party model, parties line out their policy ideas, but many have argued that there's no way for the party to enforce this on the candidate once he/she is elected. The switch to primaries has shifted to focus away from the party and toward the individual candidate. This way, however, you lose some of the vetting process.
divided gov't
- legislature is controlled by one party and the governor's office by the other
- one house of the legislature is controlled by one party and the other house by the other
after the people themselves who identify with one party or another, what's the lowest level of party organization?
precinct committees and captains and ward bosses
direct democracy
- allows voters to have more of a direct impact on the gov't (e.g. recalls)

- can create tyranny of the majority
- costly and divisive, especially if a recall involves statewide elected officials
representative democracy
- provides minorities with greater representation
- ensures those making the decisions are well-educated about them
- simplifies the process for the common voter
off-year elections
- allows people to focus on local elections

- people actually show up to the polls less
percent of local elections that are officially non-partisan
elite vs. pluralist
The elite power model is when the gov't is run by the elite, who are not necessarily the politicians but rather the bank and big business owners. The pluralist model, where power falls largely with various interest groups, tries to spread this power among many elected officials and focuses on merit-based appointments. In the elite model, it's all about who you know, especially the idea of exchanging political favors for contracts.
the name for a law passed by a city council or similar local legislative body
map and plan combo drafted by a local gov't
magnet schools
- often math/science academies or some other kind of specialization
- often have competitive admission
- emphasize quality and are often in the core of a city and therefore, can attract their own diverse student population