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.