I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Second Essay Assignment

Choose one of the following:

1. See President Obama’s proposed list of terminations, reductions and savings at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2012/assets/trs.pdf. Pick one. Lay out a strategy for winning approval. In your paper, take account of who supports and opposes the item in question. Also consider the makeup of both chambers and their relevant committees.

2. Predict what the 112th Congress will do about one of these issues:

  • Afghanistan
  • Net neutrality
  • Immigration
  • Housing finance

You may also write on an issue of your own choosing. In your answer, take account of what Congress did on the issue in the past on how the current partisan makeup of the House and Senate will shape the course of legislation. Also consider the president’s position and the possibility of cross-party coalitions.

3. Pick a measure from 2010 (other than the health bill). Explain what happened to it. You may choose your own or take one from this list:

  • HR 5175 – Campaign finance disclosure
  • HR 4173 – Financial regulatory overhaul
  • HR 5281 – Immigration policy
  • HR 4853 – Tax rates
  • HR 2701 – Intelligence authorization
  • HR 3534 – Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act

Instead of giving a mere chronology, tell why the measure moved or stalled. What happened to previous versions? Which groups or blocs backed and fought it? Which strategies and tactics did its friends and foes use? Even if it failed or stalled, did it prompt the passage of a similar measure in a different form? Look at parliamentary strategies, major amendments, and roll calls. Get background from a source such as Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, where you may find the partisan breakdown of roll-call votes. (Use the hardcopy or the online version at http://library.cqpress.com). Other possible sources include:

Again, you should explain the outcome, not just describe the process.

  • Essays should be typed, stapled, double-spaced, and no more than three pages long. I will not read past the third page.
  • Put your name on a cover sheet. Do not identify yourself on the text pages.
  • Cite your sources. You may use either endnotes or parenthetical references to a bibliography. In either case, put your documentation in a standard format (e.g., Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style).
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you.
  • Return essays by the start of class, March 2. Papers will drop a gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a letter grade after that.

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