U.S. turnout is not so bad compared to Norway, a small, (still, relatively)homogeneous nation, where are all voters are preregistered, receive notification of where to vote in the mail, and merely have to show up
Filibuster/ “Even so,” said Washington (to Jefferson) “we pour our legislation into the Senatorial saucer to cool it.” Balance of power between states and federal government, and between Senate and House, slows down legislative process. Authors of Constitution intended it that way. Example – Obama in Copenhagen, Waxman-Markey. Death penalty.Balance in Congress favors issues/programs (ie. nuclear power) that can rally bipartisan support
Approval ratings have dropped dramatically since election. Some drop is quite common, as people settle in after the election. And President Obama had a particularly ambitious package of issues he wanted to address. Makes it more difficult for him to show how effective he is. BUT! Approval ratings for U.S. Congress much lower – only 22% approve of Congress
What he’s done: Executive Orders – Day 2 of his presidency – Orders the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison; Day 3 – Lifts ban on federal funding for international organizations that perform or provide abortions; March 9 – Obama reverses Bush’s ban on federally funded embryonic stem cell research
But dramatic increase in popularity of U.S. abroad after Obama relieved Bush
Three branches: In order to ensure that no one person or group was able to control too much governmental power, the framers wrote the Constitution to provide for a separation of powers, or three separate branches of government. Each has its own responsibilities and at the same time they work together to make the country run smoothly and to assure that the rights of citizens are not ignored or disallowed. This is done through checks and balances. A branch may use its powers to check the powers of the other two in order to maintain a balance of power among the three branches of government.
Legislative:The legislative branch of government is made up of the Congress and government agencies, such as the Government Printing Office and Library of Congress, that provide assistance to and support services for the Congress. Article I of the Constitution established this branch and gave Congress the power to make laws. Congress has two parts, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The U.S. Congress is made up of two parts, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Congress meets at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Its primary duty is to write, debate, and pass bills, which are then passed on to the President for approval.50 Senators, two per state, with 6 year terms; The Senate has several exclusive powers not granted to the House, including consenting to treaties as a precondition to their ratification and consenting or confirmation of appointments of Cabinet secretaries, federal judges, other federal executive officials, military officers and other federal uniformed officers, as well as trying federal officials impeached by the House. The Senate is a more deliberative body than the House of Representatives because the Senate is smaller and its members serve longer terms, allowing for a more collegial and less partisan atmosphere that is more insulated from public opinion than the House. The Senate is considered a more prestigious body than the House of Representatives because of its longer terms, smaller membership, and larger constituencies.435 Representatives, distributed based on each state’s population. The most populous state, California, currently has 53 representatives. The presiding officer of the House is the speaker, and is elected by the members of the House. Speaker of the House is third in line to the President (after the Vice President)
Executive Branch: The executive branch of Government makes sure that the laws of the United States are obeyed. The President of the United States is the head of the executive branch of government. This branch is very large so the President gets help from the Vice President, department heads (Cabinet members), and heads of independent agencies. The President: The President is the head of the executive branch and plays a large role in making America’s laws. His job is to approve the laws that Congress creates. When the Senate and the House approve a bill, they send it to the President. If he agrees with the law, he signs it and the law goes into effect.If the President does not like a bill, he can refuse to sign it. When he does this, it is called a veto. If the President vetoes a bill, it will most likely never become a law. Congress can override a veto, but to do so two-thirds of the Members of Congress must vote against the President.Despite all of his power, the President cannot write bills. He can propose a bill, but a member of Congress must submit it for him.The President is also the Chief of the Government. That means that he is technically the boss of every government worker.Also, the President is the official head of the U.S. military. He can authorize the use of troops overseas without declaring war. To officially declare war, though, he must get the approval of the Congress.The President and the Vice-President are the only officials chosen by the entire country. Not just anyone can be President, though. In order to be elected, one must be at least 35 years old. Also, each candidate must be a natural-born U.S. citizen and have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years. When elected, the President serves a term of four years. The most one President can serve is two terms, for a total of eight years.The Cabinet: When the President wants advice he asks a group of people called the Cabinet. The purpose of the Cabinet is to advise the President. They are the President's closest and most trusted advisors. The Cabinet includes the Vice President, the heads of 15 executive branch departments, and other Government officials chosen by the President. The Cabinet meets at least once a week to discuss matters that effect the United States.The 14 Secretaries from the executive departments and the Attorney General are nominated by the President, and they must be approved (confirmed) by a majority vote (51 votes) of the Senate. Nominees can not be a member of Congress or hold any other elected office. Executive department Secretaries and the Attorney General serve as long as the President is in office. Obama’s cabinet is the most diverse in U.S. history. Of the 23 key Cabinet-level positions in Obama's administration, 10, or 43 percent, are filled by white men. Four of the top jobs, or 17 percent, are filled by white women—former Sen. Hillary Clinton, former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, economist Christina Romer and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.Three positions, or 13 percent, are filled by Asian Americans (former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki and Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu). Two out of the 23 appointments, or 8 percent, are filled by Latinos (former Sen. Ken Salazar and former Rep. Hilda L. Solis). And four jobs, or 18 percent, are filled by Blacks (Eric H. Holder Jr., Susan E. Rice, Lisa P. Jackson and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk).
The Judicial Branch: The judicial branchof government is made up of the court system. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Article III of the Constitution established this Court and all other Federal courts were created by Congress. Courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they break the rules of the Constitution.The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. The Supreme Court hears cases that have made their way through the court system, but of the more than 7,500 cases that are sent to the Supreme Court each year, only about 80 to 100 cases are actually accepted. Once the Supreme Court makes a decision, it can only be changed by another Supreme Court decision or by amending (changing) the Constitution. This is a very important power that can affect the lives of a lot of people. Also, since the main power of the Supreme Court is to decide cases that challenge the Constitution, the Court must decide if the case they receive really challenges the Constitution.The Supreme Court is made up of nine Justices. One of these is the Chief Justice. They are appointed by the President and must be approved by the Senate. Justices have their jobs for life, unless they resign, retire, or are impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate (the removal process as described by the Constitution).
2008 census bureau:46.3 million people living in the U.S. (15.4% of population) without health insurance for at least part of the year – largely due to health care coming from employers – not like through government, as in NorwayPresident Obama’s health care bill is 2,700 pages. Had summit with Republicans on February 25, 2010, but it seems as if not much movement has come from the meeting.Senate Democrats said they have identified only one path forward for the health-care bill. First, the House would have to pass the bill approved by the Senate on Christmas Eve. That bill has numerous provisions that House Democrats dislike -- such as the Nelson deal that critics have dubbed the "Cornhusker Kickback." So Congress would also have to approve fixes to the Senate bill under special budget rules known as reconciliation that would allow the fixes to clear the Senate with a simple majority. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), whose Budget Committee holds jurisdiction over reconciliation bills, told reporters this week that the fixes must start in the House because the House is responsible for initiating bills that deal with revenue matters. But House Democrats are highly reluctant to proceed without an ironclad guarantee that the Senate will pass the revisions. Reconciliation was created in 1974 to make it easier for Congress to approve politically difficult bills to reduce the deficit, but it is frequently used by both parties to muscle through favored policies, including tax cuts and changes to the health-care system. For instance, reconciliation was used to create the COBRA provision to let people who lose their jobs keep their health insurance. Sticking points – pork, such as Nebraska deal for Medicare, and whether to cover controversial procedures such as abortionVote - the bill is voted on. If passed, it is then sent to the other chamber unless that chamber already has a similar measure under consideration. If either chamber does not pass the bill then it dies. If the House and Senate pass the same bill then it is sent to the President. If the House and Senate pass different bills they are sent to Conference Committee. Most major legislation goes to a Conference Committee. 51.3 % of American public oppose President and Democrat’s health reform bill. Only 40.3% approve of it.
State of the Union always a good indicator of what’s uppermost on the agenda.
The Obama administration and U.S. politics Warm up questions How did Obama win? Current situation, issues, ratings
U.S. presidential elections are held once every _____ years. A. Two B. Five C. Eight D. Four
What are the current major national political parties in the United States? A. Whig and Tory B. Democratic and Republican C. Conservative and Liberal D. Evangelical and Democratic
What animals represent the Republican (GOP) and Democratic parties respectively. A. Turkey and Lion B. Bald Eagle and Racoon C. Elephant and Donkey D. Dog and Cat
Members of the House of Representatives are elected every _____ years. A. Two B. Five C. Eight D. Four
How long are the terms served by U.S. Senators? A. Two years B. Four years C. Six years D. Eight years
What is the fastest growing segment of American voters? A. Hispanics B. African Americans C. Women D. White men
How did Obama win? good grasp of voters, mindsets, slogan of change mobilized two groups with historically lower participation in politics: youths and minorities Democratic Party was generally able to maintain unity. Hillary campaigned vigorously for Obama after losing nomination was successful in making use of the internet, web2.0,Twitter, Facebook, email personal charisma
VOTER TURNOUT African-American voters, youth organization efforts, a citizenry that responded to a message of change, and a deep recession all conspired to produce both a 2008 Obama victory and the highest general election voter turnout since 1960. According to a report released by American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE), 131,257,542 Americans voted for president in 2008—nine million more than cast their ballots in 2004—with 63 percent of eligible voters participating.
Turnout compared to Norway? ‘Preregistered voters!!!!
Current situation (poll as of Feb.12, 2010) Nine months until midterm elections Opinions of the Republican Party have improved significantly, and for the first time in years the GOP’s favorable ratings nearly equal the Democratic Party’s. Voting intentions neck and neck Kennedy’s death, election of Scott Brown Bipartisanship
Presented more than 7,500 cases per year, but accepts only 80 – 100 of them
Health Care "I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year." – President Barack Obama, February 24, 2009
Health Care: a case study Campaign promise to extend health care to more Americans Goal is to get the bill passed by March 26, 2010, when Congress ends its session What’s the problem? Two versions of bill, one passed by House of Representatives, one by the Senate – difficult to combine Election Day attitude when public is not won over
State of the Unionhttp://stateoftheunion.onetwothree.net/