Public Policy Process
CMC Government 116 Fall 2011
MW 1:15-2:30 PM, Kravis Center, LC63
Office Hours: MW 11-noon, 4:15-5:15, and by appointment
Office: Kravis Center 232 Telephone: 909/607-4224
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
This course analyzes the politics of public policymaking. Its focus is on domestic policy, although much of the material does apply to foreign policy and national security. It poses several questions:
Why do certain issues make the public agenda?
How can policy analysts measure the contours of a problem and weigh the costs and benefits of policy options?
What steps can win support for a proposal -- or stir opposition to it?
In what ways does the complex American political system produce policy decisions?
Does the implementation process faithfully put policy decisions into effect?
When can you tell whether a policy has worked? If not, what can you do about it?
Are there ways to reform or reinvent government?
The course has these additional goals:
Classes will include lecture and discussion. Finish the readings
before class because our discussions will involve those readings.
We shall also talk about breaking news, so you must read a good news source
such as the
The following will make up your course grade:
|Three 4-page essays||.. 20% each|
|One sit-down final||.. 25%|
|Class participation and presentation||.. 15%|
The papers will develop your skills in writing, research, and political analysis. When grading, I do take the quality of writing into account, applying the standards of Strunk and White. If you object to this approach, do not take this course – or anything else that I teach.
The final examination will test your factual knowledge and comprehension of the readings.
In addition to the required readings (below), I may also give you handouts and web links covering current events and basic factual information. The final will cover this material.
Class participation will hone your ability to think on your feet. I will call on students at random, and if you often miss sessions or fail to prepare, your grade will suffer.
In the final weeks of class, students will make brief presentations on policy cases. This exercise will provide you with experience in giving briefings.
As a courtesy to your fellow students, please arrive promptly and refrain from eating in class.
Carefully check the due dates for papers, as well as the date of the final exam. Arrange your schedule accordingly. Do not plan on seeking extensions or make-up work.
Plagiarism will mean referral to the Academic Standards Committee.
Blog Our class blog is at
shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We
shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your
convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog.
(Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I
encourage you to use the blog in these ways: To post questions or comments about the
readings before we discuss them in class; To follow up on class discussions
with additional comments or questions. To post relevant news items or videos.
Our class blog is at http://gov116.blogspot.com. I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
To post relevant news items or videos.
Remember that the blog is on the open Internet. Post nothing that would look bad to a potential employer.
Schedule (Subject to change, with advance notice).
In addition to the readings below, I may also supply you with various handouts and Internet links.
Aug 31: Introduction
"Rely on planning but never trust plans." – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Sept 5, 7: An Overview
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." -- Sir Ernest Benn
Sept 12, 14: Policy Analysis I
“When statistics are not based on strictly accurate calculations, they mislead instead of guide. The mind easily lets itself be taken in by the false appearance of exactitude which statistics retain even in their mistakes, and confidently adopt errors clothed in the forms of mathematical truth.” -- Alexis deTocqueville, Democracy in America
FIRST ESSAY ASSIGNED SEPTEMBER 14, DUE SEPTEMBER 28.
READ STRUNK AND WHITE FIRST!
Sept 19, 21: Policy Analysis II
"The Government are very keen on amassing statistics – they collect them, add them, raise them to the nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But what you must never forget is that every one of those numbers comes in the first instance from the village watchman, who just puts down what he damn pleases." -- Josiah Stamp
Sept 26, 28: Agenda Setting
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” – Yogi Berra
Oct 3, 5: Policy Initiation and Selection
"I would say that the tobacco industry, the tobacco farmers, the Federal Government, all .citizens want to have an accurate and an enlightened education program and research program to make the smoking of tobacco even more safe than it is today." -- President Carter, in Wilson, North Carolina, August 5, 1978.
Oct 10, 12: Implementation I
"Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected." -- President Obama, June 13, 2011.
SECOND ESSAY ASSIGNED OCTOBER 12, DUE OCTOBER 26.
Oct 19: Implementation II
"Government proposes, bureaucracy disposes. And the bureaucracy must dispose of government proposals by dumping them on us." --P.J. O’Rourke
Oct 24, 26: Budgeting and Evaluation
Question: What was the desired effect?
Gen. Myers: The desired effect was
to kill al-Qaeda.
Question: What sort of results are you aware of?
What did your people on the ground see?
Myers: Dead al-Qaeda.
-- DOD press briefing, December 11, 2001
Peters, ch. 7-8.
Kamarck, ch. 1-3.
Oct 31, Nov 2: Reform
"We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the Government happened in the age of black-and-white TV. There are 12 different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different agencies that deal with housing policy. Then there's my favorite example: The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in saltwater. I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked." -- President Obama, State of the Union Address, January 25, 2011.
THIRD ESSAY ASSIGNED NOVEMBER 2, DUE NOVEMBER 16.
November 7, 9: Economic Policy
"If you’re going to be an academic who’s involved in the world of policy, you have to be involved in the world that exists. I was always a data guy, not a theorist. Theorists can maintain total purity. The data are always messy." -- Austan Goolsbee
November 14, 16: Health and Welfare Policy
"This plan would require that employers offer a comprehensive health insurance plan to all their full-time employees, with the employer paying a share of its costs. The role of private health insurance in financing health care would be expanded and the consumer's opportunity to choose between competing health insurance plans would be enhanced." -- President Nixon, State of the Union Address, January 20, 1974.
November 21, 23: Education Policy
"Despite what some among us would like to believe it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year, because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees." -- NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin, July 2009.
Peters, ch. 13.
Case study: "Holding Teachers Responsible for Failing Schools: The Battle Over Education Reform in Central Falls, Rhode Island" (for distribution.)
Nov 28, 30: Energy, Environment, Defense, and Law Enforcement
"It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes
electrical energy too cheap to meter, will know of great periodic regional
famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel effortlessly over
the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at
great speeds, and will experience a lifespan far longer than ours as disease
yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age." -- Lewis L. Strauss
Speech to the National Association of Science Writers, New York City September 16, 1954.
Peters, ch. 14-15.
George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson, "Broken Windows," The Atlantic, March 1982. Online: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/03/broken-windows/4465/.
Case study: "Ellen Schall and the Department of Juvenile Justice" (for distribution).
Dec 5, 7: Culture Wars
"I have observed with profound sorrow the role that many religious leaders have played in urging passage of this bill, because I cannot make their activities jibe with my concept of the proper place of religious leaders in our national life … This is the second time in my lifetime an effort has been made by the clergy to make a moral question of a political issue. The other was prohibition. We know something of the results of that." -- Senator Richard Russell, Congressional Record, June 10, 1964, p. 13309.
Peters, ch. 16.
Case study: "Science, Discrimination, and the Blood Supply: San Jose State University's Blood Drive Ban" (for distribution).
FINAL EXAM: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, AT 2:00 PM
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