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POS2041: U.S.

Government (online)
Valencia College
Dr. Paul Labedz
Directions: Please provide DETAILED type written responses to five questions: three
questions from section 1 and two questions from section 2. Each response will be
evaluated on a scale of 0-10 (Total points available: 50)
Answers will be sent to Professor Labedzs Blackboard messaging account as a Microsoft
Word attachment or within the text of the message. Please do not send an attachment with
a .wps suffix. I cannot open these files. The due date can be found within the course
syllabus and in a course announcement.
Section 1: Answer THREE of the following questions:
1) Where do people get their opinions about politics, and what are the forces that
shape those opinions?
a. People develop their own opinions about politics based on several
different factors. Based on these factors is what forces them to not only
shape their own opinions but also express what their opinions are about
politics. To begin with, family is a big factor when it comes to people
developing opinions about politics. Children learn many things from their
parents. Some children tend to adapt their parents views on different
things. Whether it is bout sports, government r politics when a parent
jumps the kids will too. Despite family disagreements and generation
gaps, children tend to grow up and vote the way their parents do. Families
are generally the first, and often the most enduring, influence on young
people's developing political opinions. As people grow older, other
influences crisscross the family, and naturally their attitudes tend to
diverge from those of their parents. However, the influence still remains.
Logically, the more politically active your family, the more likely you are
to hold the same beliefs. Just look at the Bush family. This relationship is
less strong on specific issues like school prayer, abortion, and welfare
programs but they all hold the same general political views. Gender is
another factor. When it comes to women and men, each have different
perspectives of politics. In recent elections women have voted strongly
Democratic. Why? Most observers believe that women think the
Democrats more strongly support "women's issues," such as equal work,
equal pay, and equal legal rights. Polls indicate that many issues about
which women feel most strongly, such as education and health care, are
more favorably addressed by the Democratic Party. Another factor that is

very opinionated will have to be religion. Religious beliefs often sway the
way people vote. The Christian Coalition is a group that has over two
million members and represents the view that "people of faith have a right
and a responsibility to be involved in the world around them. Older studies
dating to the late 1940s generally show that Jewish voters are more likely
to support Democrats than are Catholics or Protestants. Catholics tend to
be more liberal on economic issues than they are on social issues. More
recent studies have focused on how affiliates of the "Religious Right"
differ in their political attitudes and behavior from everyone else. The
RELIGIOUS RIGHT tends to support more conservative candidates for
public office, and they are more likely to contribute to the Republican
Party than to the Democratic Party. This tendency is more clearly
associated with social issues such as school prayer, abortion, and divorce,
than with economic issues or foreign affairs.
2) How do interest groups influence public policy?
Interest groups influence public policy through lobbying of their specific
special interest they have in mind. The number one way interest groups
affect public policy is by providing information to politicians. It is illegal
for interest groups to give money to politicians. Interest groups influence
public policy by gathering American citizens together with similar
concerns and presenting those concerns to officials. There are many
different interest groups for all sorts of causes. Interest groups are also
known as advocacy groups or lobby groups. Interest groups play a very
important role in developing political and social systems. Some groups use
direct action and civil disobedience to get officials on their side regarding
their policies. Wealthier interest groups have been known to use financial
gain in order to convince politicians to be on their side. In recent years,
interest groups have used social media to get widespread support for their

3) How have the role and place of political parties in American politics changed
during the past two centuries?

4) What role have minor parties, often called third parties, played in American
Third parties have played an important role in U.S. government. Third
parties usually are not looking to elect a candidate office but to
promote a specific idea, such as suffrage, environmental protection,
etc. They raise awareness about that issue. The other two main parties
usually adopt that issue to gain more popularity. Third parties also

steal votes that could cause a certain party to win an election. The
United States is known for having a two-party system because of the
Electoral College's winner-take-all system. Since third parties rarely
win the popular vote in a state, they do not receive any electoral votes.
The third parties never win presidential elections. There are several
reasons we've traditionally stuck with a two party system. Many of
our governmental traditions come from Great Britain, which also has
two parties. In addition, most Americans have fairly similar views on
many things, and can feel fairly comfortable in one of the two main
parties. Third parties have historically had a great deal of difficulty
getting elected to state and national office, although some have been
marginally successful at the local level. One of the reasons is our
"winner take all" system of electing representatives. Whichever
candidate wins the most votes (not necessarily over half) wins that
particular seat in various legislative bodies. Other countries elect in
different ways that give legislative seats to the various parties based
on the percent of the popular vote they received. So the Green Party,
for example, may only win 10% of the popular vote, but would get
10% of the legislative seats in whatever body is being elected. It's also
very difficult for third parties to get their candidates placed on the
ballot. The Democratic and Republican nominees for any office are
automatically placed on the ballot as soon as they win their party's
nomination for that office. Third party candidates must get signatures
on a petition and meet various filing deadlines and regulations just to
get on the ballot. The major party candidates can also get federal
funding for their campaigns automatically, if they agree to a few
stipulations about who else they take money from. Third party
candidates must fund their campaigns themselves. If, and only if, they
receive 5% of the popular vote, the federal government will reimburse
their expenses. Very few third parties have been able to attain that sort
of success. That is why the United States has a two-party system.

5) How does the campaign for the presidency differ from campaigns for other offices that
are less visible, powerful, and prestigious?
Section 2: Answer TWO of the following questions:
5) Many Americans praise the president when the economy is healthy and blame him
when the economy is unhealthy. Does the president have effective control over the
economy? Are Americans mistaken when they praise or blame the president? Are
presidents at least partly responsible for this?

The president has influence over the course of the U.S. economy,
but less than is generally supposed and certainly far less than
presidents themselves like to claim, especially when the economy
is doing well. The president can set a tone that is either hostile or
friendly to free enterprise. If he whips up anti-business sentiment
or convinces Congress to raise taxes, hike tariffs, pile on more
regulations, or otherwise create a hostile environment, the result
will be negative for the economy. People will hold back on
starting businesses or investing in expansion, or they will put their
money to work in other countries. On the other hand, the president
sets a friendly tone, works to cut taxes and tariffs and eases the
burdens of regulation and other government interference, he can
benefit the economy by unleashing the creative energies of
investors, entrepreneurs and consumers. Congress still plays a
pivotal role because the president can't unilaterally raise or lower
taxes and tariffs. The Congress ultimately controls the purse
strings of the federal government, so whether the government has a
balanced budget or not is a congressional prerogative. A president
who wields no clout on Capitol Hill will have less ability to
influence the economy than has the Congress. I feel Americans are
not mistaken when praising or blaming the president. Look at this
in the perspective of a kid, you compliment him on good actions
but are disappointed with bad options. Thus this is how Americans
view the president, solely on a teeter totter perspective. President
are not responsible for this, mostly it can be congress, media or
other groups who show case the president in a negative way. Also,
president are partly responsible because if you look at the elections
where they promise so called laws, nothing is upheld.

7) What are the respective roles of the president and Congress in producing the federal
budget each year?
The President submits a comprehensive budget request to Congress in early
February which outlines the Administrations policy and funding priorities and the
economic outlook for the coming fiscal year. This budget, which estimates

spending, revenue and borrowing levels, is compiled by OMB from input by the
various federal agencies, with funding broken down into 20 budget function
categories. House and Senate Committees hold hearings on the Presidents budget
and the Budget Committees report a concurrent resolution on the budget that sets
each committees allocation of spending authority for the next fiscal year and
aggregate spending and revenue levels for 5 years. The budget resolution also
establishes aggregate totals with respect to revenues and spending for the entire
federal budget. This resolution, once adopted, is not law, as it is not signed by the
President. The allocations, enforceable through points of order, establish the
framework to consider spending and revenue bills on the House and Senate floor.
the House begins consideration of the 12 annual appropriation bills for the next
fiscal year based on the discretionary spending allocation in the budget resolution.
As these bills move through hearings, markups, Floor consideration, and
conference they are constrained by the levels and allocations in the budget
resolution and the enforcement of the Budget Act and through House and Senate
rules. If the spending and revenue levels in the budget resolution require changes
in existing law, the resolution would contain instructions to committees to report
legislation containing such statutory changes. Whether for tax increases or
decreases, deficit reduction, mandatory spending increases or decreases or
adjustments in the public debt limit, this process has been used to focus many
agents on one goal, often in a large bill. Congress considers numerous measures
authorizing the appropriation of funds on a myriad of programs each fiscal year.
This decision-making is constrained by the Budget Act and through House and
Senate rules.

8) Is American sovereignty threatened by the economic and political changes in the world
political environment? Suggest specific ways by which this sovereignty may be
9) Is it fair to say that the United States has been an expansionist power throughout its