Evidence & Logic in Public Policy
This course provides a focus for public policy majors on actual decision-making process within the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. Consideration is given to (1) the role of evidence, empirical analysis, and logic; (2) the role of politics; (3) the role of party affiliation and ideology in the decision-making process; (4) the role of key actors and agencies and the distribution of responsibility; (5) the role of outside experts, such as think tanks and journalists; and (6) the influence of lobbyists and other "rent seekers." Students consider such critical examples of decision-making as the Cuban Missile Crisis; the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; the decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq; congressional decisions relating to "health care reform" in 2009 and 2010; and the executive branch decisions involving the financial crisis of 2008, including the emergency implementation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Students write a detailed policy memorandum to a member of the executive branch or to a congressional leader, containing a situational analysis and action recommendation pertinent to a significant "real time" policy controversy.