MODEL ANSWERS – Lecture 4
1. Usually the most important appointment by the president is to the __________________.
“The most important appointment the president usually makes is to the Supreme Court.”
2. The three departments in President George Washington’s original Cabinet were __________, ___________ and ______________. Which do you think was most important, and why?
“In Washington’s day, I think that the department of war was the most important … because back then it was very important for them to have an organized militia and army. [T]hey were still at war with Britain and after the war it was very important to have a strong defense since they were a new nation and the colonies needed to be protected against possible attacks by Britain, France, etc.”
3. Explain how a president can approve or veto legislation.
“The President has 2 options for vetoing legislation: 1) he can send it back to Congress with reasons for rejection or 2) he can take no action on the bill and if Congress adjourns within 10 days the bill is dead, which is commonly called the pocket veto. He can approve legislation also with 2 options: 1) he can sign the bill 2) he can take no action on the bill for 10 days and it automatically becomes a law.”
4. Describe two different actions by a president that require Senate approval to take effect.
“A majority vote is needed to ratify a presidential nominee for any office: the federal judiciary, the Cabinet, or to the Executive Office of the President, which helps oversee the many federal agencies. When the president negotiates a treaty or agreement with a foreign country it must be confirmed by a two-thirds vote in favor by the Senate.”
“For example, when President Wilson negotiated the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, the Senate rejected it, thus we had to make separate treaties with Germany and other central powers.”
“One action by a president that requires Senate approval is replacing the vice president in the case of a vacancy. The president selects a nominee for the office which a majority of the House and the Senate must confirm. …”
5. The Articles of Confederation did not establish a presidency. Do you think we need to have a president? Why or why not?
“The Articles of Confederation did not have a provision for a president, for a few reasons, the main reason being that the colonies had just fought a war with the King of England and they did not want a single leader governing over them. However, when they were drafting the Constitution, they realized that a central leader was required for stability. And to keep him from having too much power and becoming a king, they restricted what exactly the president can do.”
“The president, while sometimes seeming a bit like a dictator, is actually an almost necessary person to have in this form of government. He is the one person that makes the major decision when everyone else is arguing over it, and provides a balance to the legislative system, with vetoes and such. … He also is a great source of entertainment and airtimes on television come Election Day …”
“… The President is an absolutely essential part of our government, if just for the fact that ‘we the people’ need a figurehead to look like he’s running things. The Congress can’t do diddly squat without arguing and being hopelessly partisan. …”
6. List what you think are the five most important departments in the Executive Branch, and why.
“I think that the five most important departments are … (1) State, because it is in charge of foreign affairs, (2) Defense, because it is in charge of the military, (3) Department of Justice, because justice is important, (4) Treasury and (5) Commerce … because the economy is so important.”
7. Briefly describe, in your own words, the three main parts of the “Executive Office of the President” and what they do.
“The Executive Office of the President (EOP), created in 1939 by FDR to help oversee the countless number of federal agencies, consists of three main departments. They are the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the National Security Council (NSC), and the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA). The Office of Management and Budget acts as the main overseer of the federal agencies and their programs. It evaluates the operations of the federal agencies and the rules, laws, or regulations proposed them; it also examines the laws proposed by the cabinet department. The OMB has the significant responsibility of creating the administration’s budget proposal. The NSC is the agency that is responsible for discussing and overseeing the country’s national security and foreign policy. Its members include the President, the Vice President, the Secretaries of Defense, State, and Treasury; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Director of the CIA. The NSC has the job of creating and coordinating policies with other federal agencies in order to promote national security. The Council of Economic Advisors advises the President in order to help him prepare the annual economic report; it also collects and evaluates information on the President’s economic policy and recommends new policy ideas to him.”
8. Describe in your own words the constitutional qualifications of the president and what he must say before taking office. Would you add or subtract anything? Explain.
“… I would require the President, before taking office, to write out by hand, word for word, the Constitution of the United States and its Amendments, and to repeat this action every two years during his term as President. My reason is that … the President should always be aware of his constitutional powers and limitations.”
“… I would mildly revise his oath to say, ‘I, (name), do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and I will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, as well as the life, liberty, and happiness of her legal citizens residing therein.”
9. Write a short letter to a newspaper praising or criticizing something President Bush is doing. Email or mail it to the paper.
“I was very disturbed when I found out that the Bush Administration leaked the name of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame. The two senior Administration officials declared that the leak was ‘fair game’ because Plume’s husband, Joseph Wilson, publicly challenged President Bush’s claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium ore for nuclear weapons. I don‘t think that it was fair game and this has been a devastating event for the Wilson and Plame families.”
“Arnold Schwarzenegger should not be elected governor of California because he knows absolutely nothing about politics.”
10. Vice President Dick Cheney has been more powerful than most vice presidents. Should vice presidents share power with the president? Explain your view.
“I don’t think vice-presidents should share power with the president. I … relate this to basketball: if a basketball team has two coaches of equal power then the players on the team might not know who to listen to because too many ideas are coming from too many perspectives. … The same [is true] with presidents and vice-presidents.”
“Yes, because that way, if the president is assassinated, or dies, the VP will know what is going on (when he becomes president), instead of being shoved in without a clue. If he hadn’t been sharing power with the president, he might not know what was going on in the office.”
“If the president and the vice-president were able to share powers that would mean some very important ideals would be intermixed between them which aren’t supposed to be. For example the president would have power over the Senate, which could affect how his vetoes are delat with, or the vice president could become involved in the selecting of Supreme Court justices. The clash of opinions in these situations is an unnecessary delay for the country’s government.”
11. Originally, the federal government only prosecuted a few crimes like treason and counterfeiting. Now the federal government has power to prosecute thousands of different crimes. In light of terrorism and 9/11, should the federal government have more or less power against potential criminals?
“I think that the federal government has too much power to prosecute crimes. The federal government should prosecute only a few definite crimes that cannot be handled by state coursts, such as treason. Unfortunately, because of the growth of the federal government and the large amount of agencies and regulatory commissions, the federal government can argue that they need to enforce agency decrees and so much prosecute these crimes. …”
“The United States should have less power with criminals who are citizens of the United States. The states should punish their own criminals because eventually the federal government will be uncontrollable with their punishing. Exceptions … would include criminals who commit crimes against he federal government or terrorists ….”
“… I would rather have my government protect me by enforcing our border controls, strengthening our immigration laws, and strengthening our foreign intelligence. …”
“… I feel the current powers are more than sufficient if used properly and enforced to the full extent of the law when and where needed (watching our borders, not allowing known terrorists into our country, finding and either arresting or watching the activities of known terrorists within our borders, etc.)”
12. Many school districts exclude home schoolers from after-school activities, like sports or bands. Suggest a political strategy to enable home schoolers to participate in these activities. What resources (people, connections, time, money) would you need to reach your goal?
“My proposal is very clear and simple: We are either excused from paying any taxes that go towards school … thereby reducing the amount of money that is received per student or we are allowed to participate in all school activities, such as soccer, football and band. To obtain support and maybe even approval for my plan, first I will attend the school board meeting and propose my plan to them ….”
“The first step I would take to enable homes choolers to be able to participate in after-school activities would be attending my town assembly meeting ….”