Am Govt Homework 2 Answers - Student Two

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American Government and Politics: Lecture Two Homework

Monday, September 17, 2012

Question 1:

The six most important powers of Congress are the taxing, war, intellectual property, money, citizenship, and “elastic clause” powers. This is mainly because these areas apply to the entire country; if every state had some or all of these six powers, laws would become even more complicated and confusing than they are now. For example, if all 50 states regulated their own currency, this would accumulatively cause huge money loss through currency conversion. Some of the other powers of Congress seem less important: it would be better, for instance, if more postal companies were allowed. Holding exclusive postal power is not very important for Congress, and more shipping companies would create badly needed jobs.

Missed the Commerce Clause, which is more important than the intellectual property power and money powers (by the way, states and local communities can establish paper currency different from United States paper money, but are prohibited from establishing their own coin money). The Commerce Clause is the basis for many federal laws, and is what prevents States from taxing most interstate purchases over the internet. (-1) Excellent answer otherwise.

Question 2:

Preventing New Jersey from forcing homeschooled students to take public school examinations every year, a provision in the “No Child Left Behind” law is a huge blessing to homeschoolers. Because of the provision, public schools that force homeschoolers to take these yearly tests are denied certain funds from the federal government. Public schools need this funding, so they don’t require homeschoolers to take the exams.

Superb answer.

Question 3:

About one-third (33%) of the United States Senate is elected every two years. However, not every seat of the Senate is up for election every Election Day, because a senator’s term lasts for six years and Election Day occurs every two years. Also, there are always about 1/3 of the seats to be filled because each senator is in a different year of his term in a given election year. If the seats up for election were not staggered like this, every seat would be up for election every six years. The Founding Fathers structured the Senate so that it would not be entirely emptied and refilled every Election Day; a smaller scale election would keep the U.S. Senate more stable than the House (Extra information gained from Patrick Tiedemann).

Terrific, one of the best answers in the entire class.

Question 4:

In order for a “bill” to become a law at the federal level, it first must be examined by a congressional committee of the House of Representatives. If, after a public debate and discussion, it wins their vote, it is given to the House Rules Committee. This committee sets the guidelines for how the House of Representatives is allowed to debate about or make changes to the proposed bill. The House of Representatives votes on it, and if it passes, it goes to a committee of the U.S. Senate. The Senate committee might edit the bill prior to giving it to the Senate, where senators can suggest changes and constantly argue (filibuster) to prevent others’ votes. After winning the Senate’s vote, this (possibly revised) bill and the House’s version of the bill are compared. A joint Senate and House committee will resolve any differences; this compromise must be accepted by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Presented with the bill once Congress agrees upon it, the president must either sign it within 10 days or veto it. If Congress is no longer in session, he has the option of a pocket veto: he can simply not sign it for the 10 days, and the bill will not become law. However, if Congress is in session and he doesn’t sign or veto it within 10 days, the bill will become law without his approval. In the case of a veto, a 2/3 vote of all of Congress (Senate and House) can override the president.

FABULOUS EXPLANATION - THE FINEST IN THE CLASS.

Question 5:

In addition to not being able to pull a driver over for speeding, the federal government cannot set fines for traffic violations, set a minimum driving age, or state what BAC (blood alcohol concentration) a driver must possess to be considered “Under the Influence.” Since the states possess these powers, they set rules for driving that are distinct to each state.

Excellent.

Question 6:

“Textualism” is the belief that statutes should be interpreted based solely on what the text of the law actually says, not based on what someone else thought about them when they were written (called legislative history). Textualism makes perfect sense. To begin with, when one thinks about today’s complicated, confusing, unclear laws, it is apparent that legislative history is currently necessary in order to decipher what the law means. Additionally, if the meaning is based upon what someone else thought about the law, the real statute no longer has any real meaning of its own. It becomes more flexible than a law should; after all, several people who worked on the statute might have had different ideas of what it meant. If all of these different ideas are considered, then the actual law that was passed loses its solidity and significance and could even be bent according to a judge’s personal preference. Conversely, if the ideal of textualism was upheld, then the law would be the law, and lawmakers would need to say exactly what they mean as they write statutes. Eliminating the consultation of legislative history when the meaning of a law is considered would create clearer laws that are less open to abuse.

Very good answer. You should consider becoming an attorney one day. A minor weakness in your answer is that you seem to be saying that textualism is impossible now for "today’s complicated, confusing, unclear laws," so it's not clear when you would support beginning use of textualism, if it doesn't work for many of today's laws.

Question 7:

English government is different from American government in that its executive branch is closely related to and entwined with its legislative branch (or parliament). In fact, the English leader is a member of parliament! This structure is much different from ours, where each governmental power is disjoint in order to create natural checks and balances on each of them.

Excellent.

Question 9:

The committees of Congress deal with the details in lawmaking. For instance, pretend that a new law associated with patenting is being considered. A House committee would draft the law and oversee a public hearing regarding it. If they eventually decide that the law is worth consideration, they send it to another committee—the House Rules committee. This committee decides how the members of the House are allowed to debate and consider it. If it passes the House, a Senate committee will decide if the Senate will consider the law or not; suppose they reject it. Suppose, instead, that they decide to consider a law restricting “Obama Care,” which currently is a very important issue. These committees saved the main body of Congress much time and energy in dealing with these important yet time-consuming details, and they also filtered out distractions to allow the Senate to focus on the most pressing topic.

Good.

Question 12:

In the House of Representatives, there are currently 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats. Thus, Republicans control the 435 seats, creating a margin of 241-194 (there are 47 more Republicans in the House than there are Democrats). Based on the “Battle for the House” poll on www.realclearpolitics.com, the Republicans are likely to win the majority in the 2012 election; the projected numbers are 229 Republicans, 183 Democrats, and 23 toss-ups. The toss-ups, however, seem to lean in favor of the Republicans. Thus, I believe that the margin of the House in January of 2013 will likely be around 242-193, in favor of the Republicans by around 49 seats.

Excellent analysis, and a good use of the "realclearpolitics.com" resource. A minor point about terminology: Republicans do not "control the 435 seats," but because of the Republican majority they do control the House of Representatives.
Total score: 89/90. Very well done.--Andy Schlafly 21:01, 19 September 2012 (EDT)
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