9.27-10.9 - American Politics and Social Welfare Policy...

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American Politics and Social Welfare Policy 9.27-Oct. 9 9.27. 2006 Seth Low story is emblematic of welfare battles that took place across U.S. In Britain, the struggle 10.4 Candidate explanations for different developments of welfare states 1) Logic of industrialization a. Industrialization is not sufficient by itself for explaining b. Doesn’t really explain differences in kinds of programs 2) Ideology/culture a. Americans are more individualistic and skeptical of government, while Europeans are more comfortable with ‘Big Government’ b. True up to a point, but does not explain differences between U.S. and Britain c. Doesn’t account for fact that there are differences of belief within countries d. Question is not, “What do Americans believe?” but, “Which ideas win, and why?” 3) Interests a. Strength of interests matter i. Labor vs. business – who’s stronger? b. Safety net was favored by labor, opposed by business (b/c of higher taxes, for instance) c. How does labor get policies through? i. In places where labor can influence/control a political party and thus policy d. Compared to other countries, U.S. never had a big labor movement. e. Britain: welfare reforms following WWII pursued by strong labor unions and far left Labour party These models don’t account for a political mechanism by which the demands for strong labor movements are translated in policy This leads us to fourth explanation 4) Institutions (the organization/structure of politics and who has power) a. Skocpol: ‘state formation’
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b. Several important characteristics of American policymaking institutions i. Separation of powers 1. the President and the Congress are separately elected institutions 2. contrast this with parliamentary system, where leading party in parliament chooses the executive 3. crafting policy in parliamentary system is very different than in U.S. ii. Federalism 1. federal gov’t was relatively weak until 20 th century 2. U.S. has had to struggle with lack of clarity in what the proper functions of nation and state gov’t are iii. Political parties 1. two-party system a. structure of American elections: if you get plurality of votes, you get all of the victory – ‘winner take all’ b. in parliamentary system, if a small party receives 5% of the vote, it will receive 5% of the seats c. no payoff to being/voting for third party 2. to be successful, you can’t just appeal to a narrow constituency; you must earn broad support to gain a majority iv. Bureaucracy 1. U.S. was very late and slow to develop a strong, centralized bureaucracy a. When role of federal gov’t was limited, bureaucracy was extremely limited b. In old days, bureaucracy was full of patronage i. Post office was once biggest dept. 2.
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course POLS American P taught by Professor Lieberman during the Spring '08 term at Columbia.

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9.27-10.9 - American Politics and Social Welfare Policy...

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