Short Essay – Policy-making in the Federal System
The U.S. government's expansive role in public policy is caught in a swirl of conflicting cross-currents. On the one hand, popular expectations about government's responsibility to solve problems often exceed the capacity of state and local authorities to respond effectively. On the other hand, policies developed at the national level may not sufficiently reflect the great diversity of interests across the US to be effective at the local level. Moreover, the search for effective policy is further complicated by theoretical debates about the constitutional framework of federalism (e.g., what limits on national power can be derived from the 10th Amendment?).
Select a policy issue that is in the middle of these cross-currents between national, state, and local authority. It must be a policy area other than education (the focus of Discussion One in Week Two). Some examples include: federal health care policy (e.g., Obamacare, Medicaid–not Medicare); federal transportation policy (e.g., federal transportation subsidies); federal highway policy (e.g., federal rules about the minimum drinking age, speed limits, or safety); federal urban planning and renewal policy; federal poverty, welfare and unemployment policies; national security policies that intersect/conflict with local police power; and federal disaster planning and relief. These are only examples. The policy area that you select must have a significant federalism component that requires national, state, and local interaction. It should also involve issues with a strong potential for tension or conflict among different levels of government.
Research and write an essay on a specific policy in the area that you select. (Note: The word “policy” is used interchangeably with the word “program.”) Your essay must:
- Clearly identify a specific federal policy (the policy must raise issues of federalism because it requires national, state, and local interaction and invites tension across different levels of government), and summarize the elements of the policy, including the problem it is supposed to solve or improve.
- Summarize the history of the policy. In your summary, explain how the policy raises issues of federalism.
- Analyze the main pros and cons in debates about the policy.
- Evaluate the pros and cons from two perspectives:
- The policy’s effectiveness. In your evaluation, clearly explain your definition of effectiveness and how it should be measured or determined.
- The policy’s consistency with the constitutional framework of federalism. In your evaluation, clearly explain your interpretation of American federalism's constitutional framework and why the federal policy is or is not consistent with it.
Follow these requirements when writing the short essay:
- The body of the essay (excluding the title page and reference page) must be at least 750 words long.
- The essay must start with a short introductory paragraph which includes a clear thesis statement. The thesis statement must tell readers what the essay will demonstrate.
- The essay must end with a short paragraph which includes a conclusion. The conclusion and thesis must be consistent.
- The essay must logically develop the thesis in a way that leads to the conclusion, and must be supported by facts, fully explained concepts or assertions, and persuasive reasoning.
- The essay must address all subtopics outlined above. At least 20% of the essay must focus on subtopic six, listed above (your evaluation of the various pros and cons about the policy).
- Your essay must cite at least one academic article found in the Ashford Online Library and at least three other kinds of sources (e.g., Supreme Court opinions, magazine or newspaper articles, the course textbook, and reliable websites).
- Use your own words. While brief quotes from sources may be used, altogether the total amount of quoted text must be less than five percent of the body of your essay.
- When you use someone else's words, they must be enclosed in quotation marks followed by an APA in-text short citation (author, year, and page) to your source. The in-text citation must correspond to a full APA citation for the source on the reference page at the end of the essay.
- When you express someone else's ideas, arguments, or facts in your own words, your statement must be followed by an APA in-text short citation (author, year, and page) to your source. The in-text citation must correspond to a full APA citation for the source in the reference page.
- The form of the title page, the body pages, and the reference page must comply with APA style. Additionally, the title page must include the course number and name, the instructor's name, and the date submitted.
- The essay must use logical paragraph and sentence transitions, complete and clear sentences, and correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
For information regarding APA, including samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar in your online course.