Week 6 political science discussion

Week 6 Discussion: US Budget

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Required Resources
Read/review the following resources for this activity:

  • Textbook: Chapter 10
  • Lesson
  • Minimum of 1 scholarly source (in addition to the textbook)

Initial Post Instructions
You are an advisor to the President tasked with cutting at least $300 billion from the budget. The president wants your recommendations to cut lines, not large categories. Submit your recommendations and your reasoning for such recommendations using these guidelines:

– Use evidence (cite sources) to support your recommendations from assigned readings or online lessons, and at least one outside scholarly source.

– Use the format provided below to present your numbers and totals followed by an explanation below the chart.

– Please note that these are not true US budget numbers, but are reasonable hypothetical numbers to help us consider the budget processes complexities.

DOMESTIC PROGRAMS AND FOREIGN AID

Cut some foreign aid to African countries

$17 billion

Eliminate farm subsidies

$14 billion

Cut pay of civilian federal workers by 5 percent

$14 billion

Reduce the overall federal workforce by 10%

$12 billion

Cut aid to states by 5%

$29 billion

MILITARY

Cut the number of nuclear warheads, and end the “Star Wars” missile defense program

$19 billion

Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe

$25 billion

Cancel or delay some weapons programs

$19 billion

HEALTHCARE

Enact medical malpractice reform by reducing the chances of large malpractice verdicts

$ 8 billion

Increase the Medicare eligibility age to 68

$ 8 billion

Raise the Social Security retirement age to 68.

$ 13 billion

EXISTING TAXES

Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels, passing on an estate worth more than $1 million to their heirs would have portions of those estates taxed.

$ 50 billion

End tax cuts for income above $250,000 a year

$ 54 billion

End tax cuts for income below $250,000 a year

$ 172 billion

Payroll tax increase for people making over $106,000 annually contributing more to Social Security and Medicare.

$ 50 billion

NEW TAXES

Institute a Millionaire’s tax on income above $1 million

$ 50 billion

Add a national 5% sales tax

$ 41 billion

Add a tax on carbon emissions

$ 40 billion

Tax banks based on their sizes and the amount of risk they take.

$ 73 billion

Total gap covered by your budget plan

$_________________

Follow-Up Post Instructions
Respond to at least two peers or one peer and the instructor. Further the dialogue by providing more information and clarification. Are the budget changes offered by your peers’ sound? Why or why not? Minimum of 1 scholarly source, which can include your textbook or assigned readings or may be from your additional scholarly research.

Writing Requirements

  • Minimum of 3 posts (1 initial & 2 follow-up)
  • Minimum of 2 sources cited (assigned readings/online lessons and an outside scholarly source)
  • APA format for in-text citations and list of references

answer 1: 

Hi Everyone, 

For this discussion I will be stating my recommendations to cut lines and the reasoning behind the recommendations. For domestic Programs and Foreign Aid, to cut some foreign aid to African countries, totaling $17 billion. As for the military, cut the number of nuclear warheads, and end the “Star Wars” missile defense program totaling $19 billion. For existing taxes, to return the estate tax to Clinton levels, passing on an estate worth more than $1 million to their heirs would have portions of those estates taxed resulting in a total of $50 billion. Also to end tax cuts for income above $250,000 a year totaling $54 billion. For the new taxes, institute a Millionaire’s tax on income above $1 million totaling $50 billion & add a tax on carbon emissions totaling $40 billion. Tax banks based on their sizes and the amount of risk they take totaling $73 billion. The current national debt is at an all-time high. My next cut would be to the Military budget to end the “Star Wars”/”Star force” missile defense program. With that being said, I truly feel that this is a program that has the capabilities to go back to the back burner until we have decreased Earth’s defense needs. “With the 2020 Pentagon budget expected to be flat at best, the industry has to worry about defense officials borrowing from other areas to fund Space Force start-up costs” (Erwin, etc,.  2019). From Existing taxes, I would opt to cut the Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels, passing on an estate worth more than $1 million to their heirs would have portions of those estates taxed and to end tax cuts for income above $250,000 a year. I chose these because this would cause the rich to pay more in taxes which would likely help to narrow the gap between the classes.  “Tax loopholes allow the super-rich to avoid paying millions of dollars in income tax every year (“How the super rich avoid paying taxes,” n.d.). Thus, these tax cuts would aid in eliminating loopholes. Lastly, I would make cuts from New Taxes. I would cut Institute a millionaire’s tax on income above $1 million, add a tax on carbon emissions and to tax banks based on their sizes and the amount of risk they take. These cuts would again help with economic inequality by decreasing loopholes that favor the rich over the middle class and poor. The total amount of cuts would equal $303 billion.

answer 2: 

Week 6 Discussion: The US Budget 

Professor Tolbert and Class, 

DOMESTIC PROGRAMS AND FOREIGN AID 

Cut some foreign aid to African countries 

$17 billion 

CUT 

Eliminate farm subsidies 

$14 billion 

Cut pay of civilian federal workers by 5 percent 

$14 billion 

Reduce the overall federal workforce by 10% 

$12 billion 

Cut aid to states by 5% 

$29 billion 

MILITARY 

Cut the number of nuclear warheads, and end the “Star Wars” missile defense program 

$19 billion 

CUT 

Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe 

$25 billion 

CUT 

Cancel or delay some weapons programs 

$19 billion 

HEALTHCARE 

Enact medical malpractice reform by reducing the chances of large malpractice verdicts 

$ 8 billion 

Increase the Medicare eligibility age to 68 

$ 8 billion 

Raise the Social Security retirement age to 68. 

$ 13 billion 

EXISTING TAXES 

CUT 

Return the estate tax to Clinton-era levels, passing on an estate worth more than $1 million to their heirs would have portions of those estates taxed. 

$ 50 billion 

CUT 

End tax cuts for income above $250,000 a year 

$ 54 billion 

End tax cuts for income below $250,000 a year 

$ 172 billion 

Payroll tax increase for people making over $106,000 annually contributing more to Social Security and Medicare. 

$ 50 billion 

NEW TAXES 

Institute a Millionaire’s tax on income above $1 million 

$ 50 billion 

CUT 

Add a national 5% sales tax 

$ 41 billion 

CUT 

Add a tax on carbon emissions 

$ 40 billion 

CUT 

Tax banks based on their sizes and the amount of risk they take. 

$ 73 billion 

Total gap covered by your budget plan 

$______316___________ 

The total from the cuts I chose to implement was 316 billion. These figures came from a wide range of categories. The taxes that the government implements can influence the behavior of the economy and population of the country. Allocation of funds and resources depends on who the president is and how the House and Senate are controlled. Republic and Democratic views are very different in the way they choose to have their funds and resources allocated. Chamberlain College of Nursing, Lesson 6 (2021) stated, “In February of each year, the President submits a budget proposal to Congress for approval. This proposal is based on the President’s priorities and what he/she believes will pass in Congress. Once the plan is made public, many interests will scrutinize this proposal to see where spending will take place. The next step is for Congress to consider the President’s proposal. Congress can approve or disapprove the budget items and they can add or subtract from the President’s proposal as they see fit. This phase of the budget is very complex as it must pass through several Congressional committees before receiving a full house vote. Budgets are generally initiated in the US House of Representatives while the US Senate is seen as a source of review to ensure equity” (p.1, US Budget Tab). The US budget is balanced by mandatory spending, necessary spending, national debits and deficits. Most of the federal government’s revenue comes from taxes that taxpayers contribute. In this budget plan I chose to eliminate farm subsidies as a category because we are not giving breaks to local farmers for fruits and vegetables, we are giving breaks to corporations that use corn and soy as our large market grains. Limiting some aide to Africa can help decrease the deficit. Stopping all aide would not be beneficial but decreasing aide for a short period of time can help balance the US budget. Meeting with the United Nations on this issue, may help determine if other countries can contribute to their own country’s needs. Cutting some military spending like additional weapons programs and pre-Iraq war troop numbers, can decrease the budget for the short term. I would not recommend eliminating these programs, just cutting back some funding. It is not the United States job to “police” other countries. Offering aide when needed is one thing but paying for troops to police areas that may be considered “low threat”, can be considered a waste of resources. Eliminating tax cuts for people who make more than $250,000 per year and implementing pre-Clinton era taxes, will help contribute and pay into Medicare and social security. Wealthy people tend to have more investments and obviously make more money, which in turn, can help the US programs with more contributions. Most companies tend to use a clean approach so taxing carbon emissions would benefit the climate, which is important but, saving money in the budget by not implementing these taxes for this year’s budget makes sense. With the pandemic and economic strife, we have to allocate resources to places and programs that will help grow the economy. Amadeo (2020) stated in her article, “Each year, the deficit adds to the U.S. debt (Links to an external site.). To raise funds to cover the deficit, the government issues securities such as Treasury notes, which are purchased by many investors. Japan and China are two countries whose governments have purchased large amounts of U.S. debt, in a manner of speaking owning the U.S. debt.6An anticipated budget deficit can slow economic growth. It influences rising interest rates, as investors demand more return. Eventually, investors may become hesitant to purchase Treasury notes because they fear the U.S. government may not be able to repay the debt” (p.1, para 1, Debt Tab). Controlling the US Budget will help decrease the national debt and grow the economy. Every Presidential administration blames the last for the national debt. Figuring out where to cut and where to increase funds, is a very difficult task. Unfortunately, we cannot fund everything everywhere.

lesson :

Week 6 Lesson: Political Economy 

Table of Contents 

Capitalism and Socialism Compared

Capitalism supports the concept that the people control the means of production with little to no interference by government. Capitalism is based on the idea of a market driven economy. This theory believes that the market (or the masses) drive what is produced by industry with their demand for products. For example, if a large number of people desire a certain item, then those who produce it will stay in business as long as the demand continues. However, if demand lags, the same industry will have to evolve to produce another in-demand product or leave the market. This demand for products thus drives what is produced and determines which industries flourish. This system, in its purest sense, leaves government out of the economic process. Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1937) advocated for this type of economic system. However, over time, it became evident that some regulation of business was needed. For instance, government intervention has been needed to prevent monopolies from forming in order to keep the market competitive. One example was curbing the railroads’ domination of transportation and shipping in the early 19th century.

In contrast to this model of low government involvement, socialism calls for the complete control of production by government. This theory was formed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, two political philosophers, during the 19th century in their work The Communist Manifesto (2004). These men lived during the industrial revolution when people were suffering in harsh working conditions produced under pure capitalism. They believed that if they presented a new economic plan, they could create a happier world for the individual. This world included the human rights of the liberal, but went even further to ensure an equal distribution of wealth and goods to the masses. Their theory argued for a socialist transition where the government seizes all the means of production as a way of creating the pathway to communism (or a perfect utopia).

Hand with scissors cutting American flag away from USSR flag

When trying to implement any theory, variations in practice can occur. A variation is exactly what happened when Russia, the first country to implement the teachings of Marx, overthrew its government. This revolution produced Marxism-Leninism which varied dramatically from Marx’s proposed plan. Whereas Marx promoted a classless society, Leninism favored a dictatorship to mold society. The modified ideology, which changed even more over time, resulted in many years of conflict with the West during the Cold War. The principal powers during that time, the United States and the Soviet Union, featured two completely different philosophies regarding government and politics. In the end, the Soviet Union’s political, governmental, and economical approaches proved to be disastrous for its society. It featured a political process that decided who got what, when, and how in the most arbitrary manner. It also used the government to execute those decisions brutally and ruthlessly. In the end, Soviet citizens, tired of being told they were part of one of the world’s great superpowers while waiting in line for basic necessities, gradually withdrew their interest in and support of their government. The system eventually collapsed.

The Global Political Economy

The paths that take nations to democracy are rarely straight and never identical. The same can be said for those societies opting to embrace a market economy. The most successful economic system currently is capitalism, but capitalism has evolved and continues to evolve differently in various countries around the world.

For half of the last century, many countries around the world operated under an economic system different from capitalism. The Cold War between the communist Soviet Union and the capitalist Western world guided much of the international and domestic politics of the twentieth century. As communism eroded in the face of global markets, the largest of the communist superpowers (Russia and China) moved toward market-based economies.

Capitalist countries have also seen changes in the market over the past 75 years. The “free market” does not exactly exist in any democratic country because concerns about social well-being have caused most governments to establish some kind of safety net to protect populations from the harsh realities of the market. Programs such as Social Security are examples of this safety net in the United States.

Theoretical distinctions can be made between different democratic countries and their economic development. An example of such a distinction presented in the field of political science categorizes countries’ economic systems based on how active the government is in the economy. Gosta Esping-Anderson (1990) writes in The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism that these economies can be categorized as laissez-faire, corporatist, or social democratic. Laissez-faire economies are those that remain most closely tied to the free market. Governments in these states have little democratic control over the economy and tend to allow the market to control prices and income distribution. Switzerland and its banking industry are a good example of this type of economy. Corporatist economies have strong centralized governments attempting to balance income distribution and market concerns between the democratic population and the private sector. Fascist Italy under Mussolini was a corporatist state. Social-democratic countries are those in which the government owns many social services and heavily regulates private industry. This type of system was seen under Hugo Chavez’s reign in Venezuela.

As you might imagine, with so many different economies operating in the world, the international sphere as a whole has an economy of its own. Countries have to compete for business and businesses have to compete for consumers. Trade agreements and restrictions are established to make these competitions equitable and productive. As Russia and China become increasingly powerful on the world economic stage, the international political and economic landscape continues to change.

The emergence of new economic powers is not the only pressure on the international economy. Political issues such as wages, immigration, export controls, taxes, and employment all factor into decisions that impact global markets. Citizens are going to have to make difficult decisions relating to many concerns of this new global environment in the coming years. Should national sovereignty be given to international organizations? Should businesses that pay low wages in other countries be allowed to export these goods? Must governments ultimately regulate the economy or can the free market solve these problems without interference?

Closer to Home

The American economic system is very complex. It is considered a laissez-faire economy, but this does not mean that it operates in an entirely free market. There are rules and regulations in place to protect the market,and the businesses and people operating within it. Some of these safeguards were developed during the New Deal, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as a means of lessening the impact of the Great Depression. These protections are referred to as welfare programs.

Tired sad looking men stand in line

Welfare is a term applied to social programs that contribute to the overall welfare of the citizens and these types of programs usually develop when there is a great need within the populace. For example, during The Great Depression, inflation rates made the dollar lose its previous value. This devaluation resulted in the suffering of a large portion of the population because many could not pay their bills or buy basic necessities such as food.

Although welfare programs serve purposes, they are not free. The problem of paying for welfare or safety net programs falls on every nation that offers them which is why there is always much deliberation regarding these programs. The United States offers far fewer social programs than its European allies—based upon its laissez-faire approach—and yet there is always much discussion about their existence. American conservatives tend to support a reduction in funding of such programs whereas liberals usually argue for an increase in their funding. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, there is little doubt that the question as to whether or not their cost outweighs their benefit will continue for years to come.

The US Budget

In February of each year, the President submits a budget proposal to Congress for approval. This proposal is based on the President’s priorities and what he/she believes will pass in Congress. Once the plan is made public, many interests will scrutinize this proposal to see where spending will take place.

The next step is for Congress to consider the President’s proposal. Congress can approve or disapprove the budget items and they can add or subtract from the President’s proposal as they see fit. This phase of the budget is very complex as it must pass through several Congressional committees before receiving a full house vote. Budgets are generally initiated in the US House of Representatives while the US Senate is seen as a source of review to ensure equity. The President must approve the final budget legislation after it passes both Houses, preferably before the beginning of the new fiscal year in October. In recent years, Congress and presidents have struggled with this process and temporary legislation or continuing resolutions have had to be enacted to allow the government to continue operation. Government shutdowns or partial shutdowns have affected the economy negatively and caused anxiety among workers in regards to their paychecks.

Summary

Cartoon Professor image saying, “Economics and politics go hand-in-hand!”

In the matter of economics, it is clear that a country’s politics come into play. Decisions regarding regulation of economic matters have a direct impact on a government’s success. Countries use different methods and mechanisms to ensure success. Some democracies use a type of socialism, democratic-socialism, to maintain a robust social safety net to help less fortunate people through a redistribution of wealth. However, democracy survives because the people are still represented and vote. The people have the ultimate power. Some democracies are libertarian, keeping the government at a safe distance so as not to trample individual rights. Even non-democratic countries such as China play an important part in the global economy. China is a major global trading partner and has one of the largest exporting economies.  The question we might ask is what role will the global economy have on countries’ political systems in the future?

Changing economic practices and polices effect budgeting. Every country must account for these changes due to the interdependence that globalism brings. Each nation tries to balance its trade practices and ensure the welfare of its people. Globalization has introduced more variables into the budget mix and the role of governments continue to be questioned.

References

Engels, F., & Marx, K. (2004). The communist manifesto. Penguin UK.

Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Princeton University Press.

Smith, A. (1937). The wealth of nations [1776].

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