American Government – Political Science

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Chapters 16 – 18 American Government – Political Science

This chapter covers American Government & Political Science.

cold war

the period of struggle between the US and the former Soviet Union lasting from the late 1940s to 1990

world bank

an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programs

foreign policy

a government’s strategy in dealing with other nations

defense policy

public policy dealing with international security and the military


avoidance in the involvement in the affairs of other nations

Barbary wars

two wars between the United States of America and Barbary States in North Africa in the early 19th century; At issue was the pirates’ demand of tribute from American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean Sea; American naval power attacked the pirate cities and extracted concessions of fair passage from their rulers

manifest destiny

the 19th-century doctrine or belief that the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable


the policy of territorial or economic expansion


supports a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force

Gadsden purchase

1853 for 10 million dollars strip of land in present day Arizona and New Mexico


the state of not supporting or helping either side in a conflict, disagreement


the reduction or withdrawal of military forces and weapons


International Monetary Fund; international organization created for the purpose of standardizing global financial relations and exchange rates


General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; multilateral agreement regulating international trade


World Trade Organization; only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations


The North American Treaty Organization; Military treaty between U.S. and free Europe; Collective security pact; Opposition was the Warsaw Pact

warsaw pact

A military alliance of communist nations in eastern Europe; Organized in 1955 in answer to NATO; included Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union

Truman doctrine

the principle that the US should give support to countries or peoples threatened by Soviet forces or communist insurrection; 1975, Truman

marshall plan

American initiative to aid Western Europe, in which the United States gave $13 billion in economic support to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War II


the easing of hostility or strained relations, especially between countries


a policy designed to curtail the political and military expansion of a hostile power


the act or process of deterring; the maintenance of military power for the purpose of discouraging attack


Policy implemented during the Clinton administration that the US would actively promote the expansion of democracy and free markets throughout the world

department of defense

the department of the U.S. federal government charged with ensuring that the military capacity of the U.S. is adequate to safeguard the national security

department of state

the department of the U.S. federal government that sets forth and maintains the foreign policy of the U.S., especially in negotiations with foreign governments and international organizations

national security council

the President’s principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and cabinet officials

department of homeland security

the department of the U.S. federal government charged with protecting U.S. territory from terrorist attacks and providing a coordinated response to large-scale emergencies

embargo act

1807; a general Embargo that made any and all exports from the United States illegal

elite theory

A theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided along class lines and that an upper-class elite will rule, regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization

bureaucratic theory

a theory that believes that the hierarchical structure and standardized procedures of government allow bureaucrats to hold the real power over public policy; proposed by Max Weber

interest group theory

a theory that believes that many different interests compete to control government policy, and that their conflicting interests can balance out each other to provide good government

hyperpluralist theory

a theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong that government is weakened

pluralist theory

A theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies

policy making

the act of creating laws or setting standards for a government or business

agenda setting

the power of the media to bring public attention to a particular issue or problem

policy implementation

fourth phase of the policy cycle in which adopted policies are put into effect

policy evaluation

Analysis of a public policy so as to determine how well it is working


allow or provide a particular amount of money in a budget

policy adoption

third phase of the policy process in which policies are adopted by government bodies for future implementation


the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease


A joint federal and state program that helps low-income individuals or families pay for the costs associated with long-term medical and custodial care, provided they qualify; run by the state

public health

the health of the population as a whole, especially as monitored, regulated, and promoted by the state

social security

a contributory welfare program into which working Americans contribute a percentage of their wages and from which they receive cash benefits after retirement or if they become disabled

means tested

a procedure by which potential beneficiaries of public-assistance program establish their eligibility by demonstrating a genuine need for the assistance

contributory programs

social programs financed in whole or in part by taxation or other mandatory contributions by their present or future recipients

non-means tested

Provide cash assistance to qualified beneficiaries; Regardless of income; to be eligible, must make contributions

non-contributory programs

social programs that provide assistance to people on the basis of demonstrated need rather than any contribution they have made


Supplemental Security Income; provides stipends to low-income people who are either aged (65 or older), blind, or disabled


Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; program provides temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children


Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; largest nutrition assistance program administered by the USDA, serving more than 46 million low-income Americans per year, at a cost of more than $75 billion; improve participants’ food security and their access to a healthy diet


periodic process of adjusting social benefits or wages to account for increases in the cost of living

food stamp

a voucher issued by the government to those on low income, exchangeable for food

Obama care

a federal law providing for a fundamental reform of the U.S. healthcare and health insurance system, signed by President Barack Obama in 2010


Cost-of-Living Adjustment; adjustment made to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income to adjust benefits to counteract the effects of inflation


a legal obligation of the federal government to provide payments to individuals, or groups of individuals, according to eligibility criteria or benefit rules

in-kind benefits

noncash goods and services provided to needy individuals and families by the federal government

securities act

1933; A federal piece of legislation enacted as a result of the market crash of 1929

securities exchange act

1934; a law governing the secondary trading of securities (stocks, bonds, and debentures) in the United States of America

work progress administration

largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads

civilian conservation corps

public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families as part of the New Deal

personal responsibility and work opportunity reconciliation act

federal law considered to be a major welfare reform; cornerstone of the Republican Contract with America

national defense education act

1957; provided funding to United States education institutions at all levels

education amendment

1972, title IX; prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity

no child left behind act

reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which included Title I, the government’s flagship aid program for disadvantaged students

civil rights act

1964; landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin

patient protection and affordable care act

aka “ObamaCare”; federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010


troubled asset relief program; a program of the United States government to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen its financial sector that was signed into law by President Bush in 2008

deficit spending

government spending, in excess of revenue, of funds raised by borrowing rather than from taxation

laissez faire

abstention by governments from interfering in the workings of the free market

Keynesian theory

economic theory of total spending in the economy and its effects on output and inflation

“trickle down” theory

a populist political term used to characterize economic policies as favoring the wealthy or privileged

progressive era

a period of social activism and political reform in the United States that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s

income tax

tax levied by a government directly on income, especially an annual tax on personal income

great depression

1929-1939; deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world; began soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors


a person who favors intervention, especially by a government in its domestic economy or by one country in the affairs of another

new deal

A group of government programs and policies established under FDR in the 1930s; designed to improve conditions for persons suffering in the Great Depression

social regulation

rules aimed at restricting behaviors that directly threaten public health, safety welfare or well being

socially conscious era

the time after the great depression and during the new deal


a policy of reducing or eliminating regulatory restraints on the conduct of individuals or private institutions

fiscal policy

the government’s use of taxing, monetary, and spending powers to manipulate the economy

public policy

a law, rule, statue, or edict that expresses the government’s goals and provides for rewards and punishments to promote those goals’ attainment

policy analysis

a systematic evaluation of the technical and political implications of alternatives proposed to solve public problems

reconciliation bill

a bill containing changes in law recommended pursuant to reconciliation instructions in a budget resolution

general bill

a bill that applies to all people and/or property in the state

local bill

a bill affecting only units of local government, such as a city, county, or special district

spending resolution

a budget resolution used to determine spending limits for twelve regular appropriations bills

continuing resolution

a piece of legislation that extends funding for federal agencies – typically at the same rate that they had been previously funded – into a new fiscal year until new appropriations bills become law

Kyoto protocol

an international treaty among industrialized nations that sets mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions


a US federal government program designed to fund the cleanup of toxic wastes

acid rain

rainfall made sufficiently acidic by atmospheric pollution that it causes environmental harm, typically to forests and lakes; main cause: industrial burning of coal and other fossil fuels, the waste gases from which contain sulfur and nitrogen oxides, which combine with atmospheric water to form acids

monetary policies

efforts to regulate the economy through the manipulation of the supply of money and credit

federal reserve system

most powerful monetary policy; central banking system of the US

federal fund rates

“the interest rate” at which depository institutions (banks and credit unions) actively trade balances held at the Fed

open market operations

methods by which the open market committee of the Fed buys and sells government securities and other investment instruments to help finance government operations and to reduce or increase the total amount of money circulating in the economy


tax on imported goods

progressive taxation

taxation that hits upper income brackets more heavily

regressive taxation

taxation that hits lower income brackets more heavily


a policy whose objective is to tax or spend in such a way as to reduce the disparities of wealth between the lowest and the highest income brackets


incentives to individuals and businesses to reduce their tax liabilities by investing their money in areas the government designates

mandatory spending

federal spending that is made up of “uncontrollables”


budgetary items that are beyond the control of budgetary committees and can be controlled only by substantive legislative action in congress

discretionary spending

federal spending on programs that are controlled through the regular budget process


government grants of cash or other valuable commodities, such as land, to an individual or an organization

contracting power

the power of government to set conditions on companies seeking to sell goods or services to government agencies

temporary assets relief program

aka: “troubled asset relief program”; a program of the United States government to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen its financial sector that was signed into law by President Bush in 2008

American recovery and reinvestment act

a stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Barack Obama

interstate commerce commission

a regulatory agency in the United States created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887

Sherman anti-trust act

landmark federal statute in the history of United States antitrust law passed by Congress in 1890

pure food and drug act

An Act for preventing the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs, medicines, and liquors, and for regulating traffic therein, and for other purposes

clayton anti-trust act

An amendment passed by the U.S. Congress in 1914 that provides further clarification and substance to the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890; attempts to prohibit certain actions that lead to anti-competitiveness

federal deposit insurance corporation

an independent agency of the US federal government that preserves public confidence in the banking system by insuring deposits

glass-stegall act

four provisions of the U.S. Banking Act of 1933 that limited commercial bank securities, activities, and affiliations within commercial banks and securities firms

national labor relations act

act to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy

fair labor standards act

act that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments; minimum wage of $7.25 per hour

clean air act

US federal law designed to control air pollution on a national level; one of the United States’ first and most influential modern environmental laws, and one of the most comprehensive air quality laws in the world

national environmental policy act

1970; environmental law that promotes the enhancement of the environment and established the President’s Council on Environmental Quality

clean water act

the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution

resource conservation and recovery act

1976; the principal federal law in the United States governing the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste

comprehensive environmental response, compensation and liability act

1980; federal law designed to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances as well as broadly defined “pollutants or contaminants”

safe drinking water act

the principal federal law in the United States intended to ensure safe drinking water for the public