American Government

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Previous Lessons
Open Chapter Ch. 1: The Democratic Republic
Lesson #1 Politics and Government
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Lesson #2 Democracy and Other Forms of Government
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Lesson #3 What Kind of Democracy Do We Have?
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Lesson #4 Fundamental Values
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Lesson #5 Political Ideologies
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Open Chapter Ch. 2: Forging a New Government: The Constitution
Lesson #6 The Colonial Background
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Lesson #7 An Independent Confederation
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Lesson #8 The Constitutional Convention
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Lesson #9 The Difficult Road to Ratification
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Lesson #10 Altering the Constitution
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Open Chapter Ch. 3: Federalism
Lesson #11 Federalism and Its Alternatives
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Lesson #12 The Constitutional Basis for American Federalism
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Lesson #13 Defining Constitutional Powers -- The Early Years
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Lesson #14 The Continuing Dispute over the Division of Power
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Lesson #15 Federalism and Today’s Supreme Court
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Exam Exam 1
Open Chapter Ch. 4: Civil Liberties
Lesson #16 The Constitutional Bases of Our Liberties
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Lesson #17 Freedom of Religion
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Lesson #18 Freedom of Expression
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Lesson #19 The Right to Privacy
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Lesson #20 The Great Balancing Act: The Rights of the Accused versus the Rights of Society
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Open Chapter Ch. 5: Civil Rights
Lesson #21 The African American Experience and the Civil Rights Movement
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Lesson #22 Civil Rights and the Courts
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Lesson #23 Experiences of Other Minority Groups
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Lesson #24 Women’s Struggle for Equal Rights
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Lesson #25 The Rights and Status of Gay Males and Lesbians
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Open Chapter Ch. 6: Public Opinion, Political Socialization, and the Media
Lesson #26 Public Opinion and Political Socialization
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Lesson #27 The Influence of Demographic Factors
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Lesson #28 Measuring Public Opinion
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Lesson #29 Public Opinion and the Political Process
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Lesson #30 The Media in the United States
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Lesson #31 The Media and Political Campaigns
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Open Chapter Ch. 7: Interest Groups and Political Parties
Lesson #32 A Nation of Joiners
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Lesson #33 Types of Interest Groups
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Lesson #34 Interest Group Strategies
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Lesson #35 Political Parties in the United States
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Lesson #36 A History of Political Parties in the United States
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Lesson #37 Why Has the Two-Party System Endured?
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Exam Midterm Exam
Open Chapter Ch. 8: Campaigns and Elections
Lesson #38 The Twenty-First-Century Campaign
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Lesson #39 Financing the Campaign
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Lesson #40 Running for President: The Longest Campaign
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Lesson #41 How Are Elections Conducted?
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Lesson #42 How Do Voters Decide?
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Open Chapter Ch. 9: The Congress
Lesson #43 The Nature and Functions of Congress
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Lesson #44 House-Senate Differences and Congressional Perks
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Lesson #45 Congressional Elections and Apportionment
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Lesson #46 How Congress Is Organized
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Lesson #47 Law Making and Budgeting
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Open Chapter Ch. 10: The Presidency
Lesson #48 Who Can Become President?
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Lesson #49 The Many Roles of the President
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Lesson #50 Presidential Powers
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Lesson #51 The Executive Organization
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Lesson #52 The Vice Presidency
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Exam Exam 3
Open Chapter Ch. 11: The Bureaucracy
Lesson #53 The Nature and Scope of the Federal Bureaucracy
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Lesson #54 The Organization of the Federal Bureaucracy
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Lesson #55 Staffing the Bureaucracy
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Lesson #56 Modern Attempts at Bureaucratic Reform
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Lesson #57 Bureaucrats as Politicians and Policymakers
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Open Chapter Ch. 12: The Judiciary
Lesson #58 Sources of American Law
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Lesson #59 The Federal Court System
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Lesson #60 The Supreme Court at Work
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Lesson #61 The Selection of Federal Judges
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Lesson #62 Policymaking and the Courts
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Open Chapter Ch. 13: Domestic and Economic Policy
Lesson #63 The Policymaking Process: Health Care as an Example
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Lesson #64 Immigration
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Lesson #65 Energy and the Environment
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Lesson #66 The Politics of Economic Decision Making
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Lesson #67 The Politics of Taxation
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Open Chapter Ch. 14: Foreign Policy
Lesson #68 Facing the World: Foreign and Defense Policies
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Lesson #69 Terrorism and Warfare
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Lesson #70 U.S. Diplomatic Efforts
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Lesson #71 Who Makes Foreign Policy?
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Lesson #72 The Major Foreign Policy Themes
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Exam Final Exam

Assignments:

Unfinished Assignment Study Questions for Lesson 54

Lesson Objectives:

- Cabinet departments
- Independent executive agencies
- Independent regulatory agencies
- Government corporations
- Government ownership of private enterprise



The major structures of the government bureaucracy have a distinct relationship to the president, and they have their own internal organization as well as goals and powers.

The first of those structures is the Cabinet Department, which refers to any one of the fifteen major departments of the executive branch. Another way to describe them in management terms is as a Line Organization. That means that in the federal government, each Cabinet Department of the executive branch is an administrative unit that is directly accountable to the president.



Each cabinet department was created as the need arose, with the State department being the oldest and the Homeland Security department being the latest one to be added. The president can request new departments, but Congress must approve them.

The president has some control over the departments because he can appoint or fire the heads in charge. However, he does not have control over the permanent employees who are hired within the departments because they are committed to the goals of their department and often resist change.



Another structure in the federal bureaucracy is the Independent Executive Agency. An Independent Executive Agency is a federal agency that is not part of a cabinet department but reports directly to the president. Such a federal agency like the Environmental Protection Agency is created and then Congress decides its location within the bureaucracy.



The third major structure of the federal bureaucracy is the Independent Regulatory Agency, which is an agency outside the major executive departments charged with making and implementing rules and regulations within a specific area.

The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was the first such independent regulatory agency put in place in 1887 to exercise control over rapidly growing business, and the industrial sector.

Later, other regulatory agencies were created such as the Federal Communications Commission.

Eventually, the Interstate Commerce Commission was abolished in 1995 and replaced by the Surface Transportation Board, establishing that agencies can be created and abolished according to need.



Congress felt the need to create regulatory agencies because of the complexities involved in carrying out certain laws in the public interest. Regulatory agencies have the effect of all three branches of government - legislative, executive, and judicial. They make laws that they then enforce, and they also settle their own disputes.

The president appoints and the Senate approves the heads of agencies or members of agency boards. But, these officials do not report to the president.

There are problems with the system, however, such as Agency Capture. That is when an industry being regulated by a government agency gains direct or indirect control over agency personnel and decision makers.

This has actually resulted in benefits to the industry rather than to the public interest. Making decisions in the interest of industry often results in less competition, higher prices, and fewer choices.



Deregulation is the removal of regulatory restraints. Regulations are put in place and then other administrations remove them. For instance, when President Carter appointed a chair to the Civil Aeronautics Board, he deregulated airline fares and routes.

Under President Clinton, the Interstate Commerce Commission was eliminated, resulting in deregulation of banking and telecommunications industries. At the same time, extensive regulations were put in place to protect the environment. President George W. Bush then weakened those regulations.

Leading up to the financial crisis that occurred in September of 2008, inadequate regulation of the financial industry played a vital role. President Obama reregulated the banking industry, resulting in a financial regulation plan of 2010.



A Government Corporation is an agency of government that administers a quasi-business enterprise. These corporations are used when government activities are primarily commercial.

The most famous example is the U.S. Post Office. It works differently from a private corporation in that it does not pay taxes and does not have shareholders.

There are times when the federal government can take control of a corporation. When a company goes bankrupt, federal regulations over how that is conducted are handled by a judge. When banks fail, the government has to take control through the FDIC and continue providing services to the bank's customers.



The government also has the ability to purchase stock in corporations. When the FDIC had to take control over Continental Illinois in 1984, it took years to find a buyer. That rescue was used as a blueprint for what happened in 2008. The massive bank bailout actually resulted in the government's ownership of businesses, banks, automobile companies, and even AIG. Even though it was unpopular, the government recovered its investment and even made money on the deal.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are government-sponsored enterprises. When the housing market collapsed, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae went under. The government seized control of them in something like a bankruptcy and now they are government-owned. Also, they are profitable now and all profits go to the U.S. Treasury.