1.) Please explain how public policy is formed in the American system of government. How is the problem identified? Who is responsible for determining solutions or setting the public policy agenda?
Public policy is an important process which provides ways of solving internal problems or ensuring that both government systems are run appropriately to the benefit of all American citizens. The process is composed of four main steps. The fast step is identifying a problem in which the existence of an issue is recognized. Step two is the formulation of a policy in which the policy is framed in a manner that will influence the government to respond in a certain manner. The issue goes through debates in which interest groups, executive branch officials and members of the Congress come up with various solutions regarding the problem. The third step is the adoption or implementation of the policy. This is when the federal government selects one policy solution from the many proposals arising from the debates and passes laws that will see the adoption of the new policy. Lastly, the policy is evaluated through judging it as soon as it is put into effect. A feedback is obtained is obtained from the people directly affected by the policy, the bureaucrats whose duty is to foresee the implementation of the policy and from reporters and pundits who are concerned about the policy. .
Policy formation becomes necessary when an issue has become a major concern to a significant number of people. The problem may also be identified by public or elite opinion rising indicating their dissatisfaction on existing policy. The government is put to task to take advantage of an existing or opportunity or to make the administration appreciate that there is dissatisfaction with a given policy. Problem identification has perception and definition phases. The former involves interpretation of events and giving meaning to prevailing events. The issue thought to be a problem is brought up by interest groups which comprises of experts and leaders who establish the problem. The policy making body such has the U.S. House of representatives or a local City Council which are legislative bodies or an administrative agency such as a local Health Department or Department of Energy have the mandate of determining which issue is to be part of the public policy agenda consequently the solution to the issues raised (Biggs & Helms, 2007).
Setting the agenda is limited to the president since his office is the key initiator of the national public policy agenda. Close to the president is the Congress. Before a policy gets to the president, the Congress has to ratify most of the proposals in the policy. Both the micro and macro national agenda is controlled by the president of the United States of America. By so doing, he enjoys the full mandate of determining the solution to the public policy or to a prevailing problem. He or she however does this not alone but with a team of experts. This primacy claimed by the U.S. President in determining the direction a policy should go is only an autocratic role of the President. The former Presidents of America especially since the Great Depression rose to the positions after they installed new policy directions. They began with identifying a policy thrust, ensured that the support they mobilized was sufficient, formulated a plan and finally there was an implementation of a key thrust of what people needed the American public policy (How Is The Agenda Set, n.d)
2.) Discuss the impact of thousands of lobbyists in Washington DC and the billions of dollars spent every year lobbying government officials. How does lobbying affect the process of making public policy? Explain.
America’s Capital, Washington DC is infiltrated with thousands of lobbyists whose main aim is to push for various agenda which their clients have desired the government to do for them. Majority of the issues are related to rights of certain interest groups while others are business ventures while others are just political instigated to bring opponents down. For instance, between 1995 and 1997, Microsoft had a wide network of lobbyists through whom he heralded his political views. The congresspersons are the most targeted individuals in the Washington DC although executive agency official have not been left out. There have been efforts to lure the government through the lobbyists to make decisions that are favorable to their clients. As a result, issues which should take the shortest time to solve or to come up with policies are highly politicized and enormous amount of time is lost through pressing officials to decide on certain legislations. Lobbying is actually a widespread activity which is controlled by a few well-connected individuals who understand their way around the halls. Other firms whether new or old intending to join lobbying find it extremely difficult due to various existing barriers. Corporations have been spotted to be the biggest spenders in the lobbying activities in Washington DC. One of the famous lobbying firms is Gerald Cassidy which recently registered more corporations as its clients. One of the impact of the thousands of the lobbyists in the city is increased bribery especially to lawmakers and court regulators ( Sraeel, 1990).
The billions of dollars earned every year have attracted lucrative business of lobbying industry. Through the data disclosed from records showing lobbying expenditures, it could be noticed that over $3.5 billion dollars are the estimated lobbying expenses. This activity drops greatly when the congress gridlocked for instance during summer. This indicates that most of the expenditures involve bribing the congressmen and the Court Representatives. Each time there is a change in control of legislature from one of the political parties in the USA to another, such as from Democrats to Republicans, the lobbying business is affected immensely.
Lobbying has been one hindrance in the implementations of the immigrant policy and so many other policies. Various corporations and other advocacy groups and end up interacting with officials in the government and the Congress to influence decisions which are being made to lead policy making. This promotes self-interests at the expense of the general public good. Although lobbying is recognized by the American Constitution, it is perceived by many people such as the journalists as interference to the process of making public policies. However, it has become part of the integral process of making decisions (Jones, 1998). Normally, individuals and business are normally involved in lobbying activities in case some laws and regulations created are not favorable to their activities. As much as they are allowed to meet to make case with the Congress and lawmakers whom they believe can easily be influenced or be sympathizers, there are rules and regulations which they must adhere to ( ‘Lobbying’ Becomes Pervasive, 2010).
How Is The Agenda Set?. (n.d.). How Is The Agenda Set?. Retrieved January 8, 2014, from http://profwork.org/pp/agenda/howagenda.h
Biggs, S., & Helms, L. B. (2007). The practice of American public policymaking. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe. http://www.acemyhw.com
Jones, M. (1998, January). Why is this man laughing and the Microsoftnetwork. Mother Jones Magazine,Vol. 23, No. 1, 88.
Sraeel, H. (1990, March 1). Spectacular lobbies: where business is pleasure from the ground up.. Buildings, -, -.
‘Lobbying’ Becomes Pervasive Part of US Government Policymaking (2010) News/USA ;Voice ofAmerica Retrieved on January 9, 2014 from‘Lobbying’ Becomes Pervasive Part of US Government Policymaking http://www.voanews.com/content/article–lobbying-integral-part-of-american-policymaking-101323404/173432.html