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AP United States Government and Politics Exam. Review --Day FIVE Edwards Chapters 12 (Unit 5 From our course) Edwards Chapter 14 [(pages 451 - 459) Unit 5 from our course] Chapter 9 (pages 89 - 96) in the review book. Congress. Chapter 12 (Edwards). Congress.

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ap united states government and politics exam
AP United States Government and Politics Exam

Review --Day FIVE

Edwards Chapters 12

(Unit 5 From our course)

Edwards Chapter 14 [(pages 451 - 459)

Unit 5 from our course]

Chapter 9 (pages 89 - 96) in the review book


Chapter 12 (Edwards)

  • federal government divided into a number of institutions of government, each with its own political role and responsibilities
    • legislative branch composed of two houses (House of Representatives and Senate)
    • executive branch is comprised of the president and the bureaucracy
    • judicial branch is comprised of a three-tiered court system, with the Supreme Court acting as the highest court of appeals
  • at least one-third of the questions on the multiple choice part of the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam will address the duties of these institutions and how they function to carry out those duties
the representatives and senators
The Representatives and Senators
  • Congress
    • composed of 435 representatives
    • 100 senators
    • total of 535 members
  • Occupation:
    • most are lawyers or businesspeople
  • Party:
    • Most election years leave both houses about evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, with one or two independents in each
  • Race:
    • members of both houses have always been largely Caucasian
    • House is more diverse than the Senate, which is almost exclusively white
the representatives and senators1
The Representatives and Senators
  • Gender:
    • ratio of men to women in the House is about six to one; in the Senate it is about seven to one
  • Committee Work:
    • Most members serve on at least five committees and subcommittees; senators usually serve on most committees than representatives do
    • Members of Congress depend upon staff members to help them meet their obligations
    • Members of a personal staff help with providing services to constituents, meeting with lobbyists, and a variety of other activities, while committee staff members help with research and drafting legislation
    • Staff agencies, such as the Congressional Research Service, provide valuable information to member of Congress
congressional elections
Congressional Elections
  • Congressional elections are held every two years in November
  • most important factor that determines which candidate wins an election is incumbency
    • Incumbents are elected officials who already hold office and are running for reelection
    • Incumbents win reelection more than 90 percent of the time
    • Incumbency allows senators and representatives to gain valuable experience and bring some stability to Congress
congressional elections1
Congressional Elections
  • Incumbency may also work to insulate members of Congress from change, making it more difficult for constituents to change
  • Senatorial races are usually intense because incumbents, who tend to have higher profiles, are more likely to be held accountable for public policy successes or failures
    • Senatorial challengers are more likely to be known already in the political arena, because senatorial races often draw former representatives or governors
    • incumbents usually win, though by a narrower margin
    • turnover in Congress usually occurs only when members retire
incumbent advantage
Incumbent Advantage
  • Incumbents engage in activities that increase the probability of being elected:
    • Advertising: Advertising makes a candidate visible to many constituents
      • Name recognition is an important advantage for incumbents
      • number of votes a candidate receives is fairly proportional to his or her air time on television and the frequency of his or her public appearances
      • advertising requires a great deal of campaign funds, particularly for senators, which explains in part why Congress is composed mostly of wealthy men
incumbent advantage1
Incumbent Advantage
  • Incumbents engage in activities that increase the probability of being elected:
    • Credit claiming: Incumbents have the benefit of being able to present their congressional record to their constituents to demonstrate their hard work in service of the district or state
      • Incumbents may have helped specific people or groups sidestep bureaucratic red tape (casework), or they have helped with federal programs and institutions (pork barrel)
      • from this record of service to the constituency, incumbents can build a more clearly defined public image, whereas challengers new to politics are less likely to be able to convey their position on issues to the public
incumbent advantage2
Incumbent Advantage
  • Incumbents engage in activities that increase the probability of being elected:
    • Position taking: Incumbent’s public image is strengthened because they have already taken a stand on issues relevant to their constituency
      • at election time, this can work in their favor to identify them in the minds of the public
  • Party identification: Voters for the most part cast their ballots along party lines
    • thus, a predominantly Democratic district, for example, is most likely to elect and then reelect a Democratic candidate
defeating incumbents
Defeating Incumbents
  • defeating an incumbent is very difficult, however occasionally, incumbents are defeated
  • sometimes redistricting can occur, causing an incumbent to attempt to win over an unfamiliar constituency or sometimes even compete against another incumbent
  • sometimes incumbents are involved in scandals that are visible in the media, which tarnishes their name
  • occasionally, the unpopularity of a president of the same party as the incumbent can have a negative impact on the incumbent’s chances of success
open seats stability and change
Open Seats/Stability and Change
  • When an incumbent leaves a seat open, there is more likely to be competition
    • usually the competition occurs within the primary, as most seats are safe for one party or the other
    • this is unusual, so Congress does not change very much or change very often
how congress is organized to make policy american bicameralism
How Congress Is Organized to Make Policy: American Bicameralism
  • A bicameral legislature is divided into two houses
  • Legislation must pass both houses of Congress to become law
  • Senate is designed to represent states
  • House is designed to represent the population
how congress is organized to make policy american bicameralism1
How Congress Is Organized to Make Policy: American Bicameralism

The House

  • state’s population determines how many representatives it has
  • state is divided into congressional districts, each with an equal population
  • every ten years, district lines must be redrawn according to the population data supplied by the national census
  • political party in power in each state will try and draw district lines to their advantage, a process called gerrymandering
  • states therefore can lose or gain a seat in the House, but total membership remains at 435
how congress is organized to make policy american bicameralism2
How Congress Is Organized to Make Policy: American Bicameralism

The House

  • Other characteristics of the House:
    • Members tend to vote along party lines
    • Power is usually hierarchical
    • Special responsibilities include introducing revenue bills and articles of impeachment
  • Key to agenda setting in the House is the House Rules Committee
  • House Rules Committee gives each bill a rule for debate, schedules the bill on a calendar, and allows time for debate and may specify what types of amendments can be offered
  • Speaker of the House chairs the Rules Committee
how congress is organized to make policy american bicameralism3
How Congress Is Organized to Make Policy: American Bicameralism

The Senate

  • Power is more evenly distributed among senators
  • Senators act more independently of their parties
  • Special responsibilities include approving presidential nominations, ratifying treaties, and the trial of impeached federal officials
  • Senators can filibuster
    • power of unlimited debate means that they can talk so long that they delay or even prevent voting on a piece of legislation
  • Senators can stop a filibuster by voting for cloture, which halts debate
    • rarely happens because it requires 60 votes; the majority party usually holds fewer than 60 seats, making cloture nearly impossible
congressional leadership
Congressional Leadership

The House

  • there are several elected positions in the House of Representatives
    • at beginning of each Congressional term, parties will meet in caucus to elect these leaders
  • leader of the House is the Speaker of the House, who is chosen by the majority party
  • Speaker presides over each session, and is largely responsible for assigning representatives to committees or party positions
  • majority leader assists the Speaker of the House in assigning majority party members to committees and scheduling legislation
congressional leadership1
Congressional Leadership

The House

  • minority leader leads the minority party in opposing the agenda of the majority, and in choosing minority party members for committees
  • majority and minority whips are responsible for “counting votes” for proposed legislation, working with members of their party to get enough votes to pass or defeat a piece of legislation
congressional leadership2
Congressional Leadership

The Senate

  • Vice president of the United States is president of the Senate
    • role is more formal than active
    • most authority rests with party leaders in the senate
  • Majority leader in the Senate is usually the most active or seasoned member of the majority party
    • manages the schedule of debate and rallies party votes for party legislation or against proposals of the minority party
  • Minority leader rallies the support of the minority party around legislation and acts as its spokesperson
  • Party whips assist party leaders in generating support for party legislation
the committees and subcommittees
The Committees and Subcommittees
  • Committees are the nuts and bolts of Congress
    • responsible for researching, assessing, and revising the thousands of bills that are introduced by members of Congress each year
    • conduct legislative oversight, which is the monitoring of federal agencies and their execution of the law
    • Oversight usually takes the form of investigation-often committees hold hearings to question agency officials about the activities of their departments
    • as the federal bureaucracy has grown over the last few decades, so has the process of legislative oversight
the committees and subcommittees1
The Committees and Subcommittees

There are four basic types of committees

1) Standing committees handle a specific policy area, such as agriculture, finance, energy, and commerce

  • Both the House and Senate have standing committees
  • each committee is often divided into subcommittees

2) Joint committees are responsible for legislation that overlaps policy areas

  • composed of both senators and representatives

3) Select committees are appointed to handle a specific issue, such as an investigation or impeachment trial

4) Conference committees iron out the differences between the House and Senate version of a bill

  • consist of both members of both houses.
the committees and subcommittees2
The Committees and Subcommittees
  • Getting on a Committee
    • One key to a new member of Congress’s success is getting on a high profile committee
    • Members seek committees that will help them provide opportunity to assist their constituency or publicity and help them get reelected
    • Committee placement is decided by the chamber leadership
the committees and subcommittees3
The Committees and Subcommittees
  • Committee Chairs and the Seniority System
  • Committee chairs influence the agenda of the committee
    • the chair is always a member of the majority party, and usually is the most senior member of the majority party on the committee
    • the minority party member of the committee with the longest tenure is called the ranking member
    • the seniority system was a formal rule used to select chairs, but is no longer a requirement
caucuses the informal organization of congress
Caucuses: The Informal Organization of Congress
  • Caucus
    • a group of members of Congress who share a similar interest
  • each party has a caucus, and there are hundreds of caucuses, some are more active than others
    • Congressional Black caucus and the Congressional Women’s caucus are two examples
    • Caucuses may hold hearings and put pressure on committees to try to influence legislation
congressional staff personal staff committee staff staff agencies
Congressional Staff (Personal Staff, Committee Staff, Staff Agencies)
  • Members of the House of Representatives and Senators have a number of staff who assist them in serving their constituencies, researching legislation, and communicating with those who contact the office
  • Committees also employ staff to organize hearings, draft reports, and perform other duties
  • Congress has staff agencies such as the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to track the progress of bills and perform research for members of Congress
the congressional process
The Congressional Process
  • Policymaking is a slow and laborious process, and often a final bill has changed significantly from the original
  • authors of the Constitution intentionally devised a complicated legislative system as a means to prevent hasty decisions and to encourage compromise in policymaking

You should know how a bill becomes a law!

some important committees to know
Some important committees to know:
  • House Rules Committee reviews all bills submitted by committees before they go to the House floor, assigns them a slot on the calendar, allocates time for debate, and even decides where the bill may be amended or not
    • committee is unique to the House and has a significant degree of power
  • House Ways and Means Committee writes bills concerning tax and other public revenue, which are subject to the approval of both houses
some important committees to know1
Some important committees to know:
  • Senate Finance Committee works in conjunction with the House Ways and Means Committee to write tax and revenue bills
  • Appropriations Committee in each house decides how government money will be apportioned to federal agencies
    • largest committee on each side, and divides into many subcommittees that attach to each of the standing committees
party constituency and ideology
Party Constituency, and Ideology
  • Members of Congress do not always vote with their party
    • Partisanship tends to be strongest on economic and welfare issues
    • On other issues, members of Congress may act more independently, especially to fulfill the needs of their constituents
    • although whips actively attempt to garner support for certain legislation, they are not always successful
party constituency and ideology1
Party Constituency, and Ideology
  • When representatives or senators do act independently, what influences their vote?
  • If the issue is of significance to their constituency, or is likely to be highly publicized, members of Congress tend to vote as the Constituency would want them to
  • on the many other issues about which the public is less informed, congressmen and women are more likely to vote according to their own personal views and convictions
lobbyists and interest groups
Lobbyists and Interest Groups
  • With lobbyists dominating Washington, how effective is Congress in representing the people?

You should be familiar with both sides of this debate!

Congress Represents the Interests of the Electorate

    • Interest groups are organized by groups of “the people” to make their views known so that policymakers will act on their behalf
    • pluralists contend, the competition among groups for the support of members of Congress ensures that compromise will play a part in policymaking
    • issues on which Congress focuses are as diverse as the interests pushing them to the forefront, thereby decentralizing the political agenda and power in each house
lobbyists and interest groups1
Lobbyists and Interest Groups
  • With lobbyists dominating Washington, how effective is Congress in representing the people?

You should be familiar with both sides of this debate!

Congress Serves the Interest Groups, Not the Public

    • Critics argue that those interest groups with enough money to buy influence dominate the policy agenda and distract policymakers from the needs of the public
    • So many competing interests prevent the formation of cohesive policy
      • different committees may handle the same policy issue in dramatically different ways
    • Ultimately the government wastes a significant amount of money by attempting to appease so many interests
congress the president and the budget the politics of taxing and spending
Congress, the President and the Budget: The Politics of Taxing and Spending

Chapter 14 (Edwards)

congress the president and the budget the politics of taxing and spending1
Congress, the President and the Budget: The Politics of Taxing and Spending
  • president and Congress are responsible each year for creating the federal budget
  • balanced budget, revenues are equal to expenditures
  • balancing the budget is extremely difficult, however, especially when Americans favor more federal programs but disapprove of increasing taxes
  • spending more money than the government takes in results in a budget deficit, which is difficult to avoid given the demands on a large government
sources of federal revenue
Sources of Federal Revenue
  • Income taxes: A percentage of what a person earns goes directly to the government.
    • Sixth Amendment (1913) officially authorized Congress to collect income taxes
    • Internal Revenue Service collects income takes
      • monitors people’s payments through audits
      • investigates and prosecutes in cases of tax evasion
sources of federal revenue1
Sources of Federal Revenue
  • Income tax is progressive
    • people with higher incomes pay a greater percentage in taxes
  • Opponents suggest a flat tax in which everyone pays an equal rate
  • Others propose a sales tax to replace the income tax
  • Corporations also pay taxes on their income, but most tax money comes from individual income taxes
sources of federal revenue2
Sources of Federal Revenue
  • Social insurance taxes:
    • Social Security taxes are paid both by businesses and their employees
  • Money collected from this tax is used specifically to pay current monthly benefits to senior citizens
  • these taxes have grown significantly and now account for about one-third of the federal revenue
  • As the population ages more people will be expecting payments from the government
  • Economists and Mr. Bekemeyer are concerned that the baby boom generation may drain the system
sources of federal revenue3
Sources of Federal Revenue
  • Borrowing: The federal government has borrowed a huge amount of money over the years
    • it borrows from foreign investors, foreign governments, and the American people
    • people can buy government bonds
      • government gets the money but must pay it back to the bondholder with interest
  • money the government owes is the federal debt
    • about 10 percent of the federal budget is allocated to pay just the interest on the federal debt
    • Future generations will have to pay for many policies enacted today
  • Lawmakers have considered proposing a balanced budget amendment, which would require Congress and the president to balance the budget each year
    • Critics argue that it is too difficult to predict a balanced budget because of the uncertainties of the economy
taxes and public policy
Taxes and Public Policy
  • Tax loopholes: Any tax break that allows a person to benefit from not paying a part of his or her taxes
  • Deductions for specific items are considered loopholes
  • Not everyone has the same access to loopholes
taxes and public policy1
Taxes and Public Policy
  • Tax expenditures: The losses in federal revenues that result from tax breaks, deductions, and exemptions
    • function as built-in subsidies -- the government loses money by excusing a homeowner from paying taxes on a mortgage
  • Middle- and upper-income people benefit the most because they usually have more deductions and write-offs
taxes and public policy2
Taxes and Public Policy
  • Tax reform: How much tax is almost always a point of contention among Congress and the public
    • most significant tax reform was President Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986, which cut taxes for everyone
      • eliminated many deductions and exemptions
      • exempted many low-income families from paying
      • many cite these reforms as the cause of the enormous national debt
    • President Clinton raised tax rates on the wealthy
    • President George W. Bush enacted a series of tax cuts across all income levels, but that particularly benefited the wealthy
federal expenditures
Federal Expenditures
  • government must pay its own operational costs, which make up a significant percentage of its overall expenditures
  • National security was the biggest expenditure during the Cold War and Reagan era, but it had begun to decline before September 11, 2001
federal expenditures1
Federal Expenditures
  • Social services are now the biggest expenditure: programs for people of low income and senior citizens make up one-third of the budget
    • Social Security began with the Social Security Act, part of the New Deal
    • Medicare, initiated in 1965, extended medical coverage to senior citizens
  • Because people are living longer and the current generation of senior citizens is large, Social Security taxes have risen
federal expenditures2
Federal Expenditures
  • Uncontrollable expenditures are a form of mandatory spending
    • Pensions and payments toward the national debt are fixed and thus not subject to budgetary cuts or changes
    • Entitlements are benefits the government must pay to people who are eligible according to federal rules, such as veterans’ aid, Social Security and welfare
federal expenditures3
Federal Expenditures
  • Incramentalism is the basis on which the budget is adjusted every year
    • budget is calculated by assuming that the expenditures included in the budget of the previous year will rise for the next year
    • one issue is how large the increment should be, and another concern is that this creates a system of an ever increasing budget
the budgetary process
The Budgetary Process
  • budget affects and involves agencies and departments in the federal, state
    • even local governments
  • Each year the budget process begins with the “spring review” where the federal agencies review their programs and prepare their requests for the next fiscal year
  • Budget requests are submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
  • “fall review” the OMB reviews the requests and submits final requests to the president
  • Interest groups and agencies often team up when making budgetary requests
the budgetary process1
The Budgetary Process
  • Based on all of the agency requests, the president formally proposes a budget plan to Congress in February
  • since 1922 the president has been required to prepare and submit a budget to Congress
  • 1974, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act was passed by Congress to restore and regain some control over the budgetary process
  • House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee write the tax codes that will determine how much revenue the GOV will have for the year
the budgetary process2
The Budgetary Process
  • Congress must agree that on a budget resolution, the final amount of expenditures not to be exceeded for the year
  • Appropriation Committees in both houses determine how federal funds within the total expenditure will be allotted among agencies and departments
  • Congress might make changes to existing laws to meet the budget resolution
    • Reconciliation: program authorizations are revised
    • Authorization bill: expenditures allowed for discretionary programs or the requirements for entitlement programs are changed
  • Congress must pass the final budget bill and the president must sign it for it to become law