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Domestic and Foreign Policy
Overview, Key Understandings & Questions

Theme Key Understandings

  • Governments' approaches to regulation change over time based on domestic and global circumstances
  • American domestic policies span a spectrum from a free-market approach to a highly regulatory approach
  • A citizen's opinion on the need for regulation generally depends on his or her role in society
  • Social and economic policies form the basis of domestic policy
  • Through social policy, government officials can provide programs and services to maintain and improve citizen welfare
  • Through economic policy, the government seeks to maintain stability for the national economy
  • Foreign policies are influenced by the accepted doctrine of a time period, which is often shaped in reaction to world events
  • The executive branch plays the leading role in directing foreign policy

Key Questions

Domestic Policy

  • What are the primary goals of the U.S. government in regards to domestic policy? In what ways has the free market approach failed in addressing some of these goals over the history of the United States?
  • Identify two key ways market regulation has shaped American domestic policy over the last century.

Making and Shaping Domestic Policy

  • How does the diverse population of the United States create challenges for the government when it seeks to shape domestic policy?
  • What is the primary role of the president in regard to domestic policy? Describe how the president works with Congress in establishing domestic policy.
  • Identify two ways citizens seek to directly impact domestic policy decisions.

Social Policy

  • Discuss the increased importance of public health and social insurance programs over the last 150 years of U.S. history. Why did these policy areas receive increasing attention during this time?
  • Criminal justice, education, and public housing are areas where there are a number of different views about the appropriate government approach to policy. Select one of these areas to compare and contrast two opposing points of view in regards to the direction of policy for the United States.

The Federal Budget

  • In what ways is the federal budget central to American economic policy?
  • What is the difference between mandatory and discretionary spending? How does discretionary spending offer insight into our policy priorities?

Economic Policy

  • Describe the different approaches represented by supply-side and demand-side fiscal policy. How are these policies reflected in the platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties in the modern day United States?
  • Briefly describe the primary areas where the U.S. government spends money. What surprises you the most about where government spending goes?

Economic Regulation

  • Describe two major periods in U.S. history that lead to greater economic regulation.
  • What are the primary areas of the economy that are the most regulated? Why is this the case?

Foreign Policy

  • How have historical events influenced the move from a primarily isolationist American foreign policy in the 19th century to a more moralist foreign policy in the 20th century?
  • How do you think the United States should prioritize international issues?

Making and Shaping Foreign Policy

  • Why do the executive powers of the president allow them to be the leading force in shaping American foreign policy?
  • What are two key ways Congress can serve as a check on presidential foreign policy powers?
  • Identify one significant historical example of Congress checking the foreign policy powers of the president.

Foreign Aid

  • Describe how the need to rebuild Europe in a friendly fashion lead to the Marshall Plan after World War II.
  • How did the Marshall Plan mark a shift in American foreign policy as the United States became a leading world power?

U.S. Military Intervention

  • How did the shift from Cold War tensions to concerns about global terrorism change American foreign policy in the 1990s and early 2000s?
  • How have concerns about global terrorism impacted America's willingness to use military intervention as a foreign policy tool?

Supranational Systems

  • Discuss the role of two significant supranational systems that have been put in place since World War II. How do these systems impact American foreign policy decisions?
  • What is the liberal school of thought regarding supranational systems? What is the realist school of thought? Which school of thought do you agree with more?

MLA Citation

"At Home and Abroad: Deciphering U.S. Policy." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Display/2142498?cid=246. Accessed 6 Dec. 2019.

Entry ID: 2142498

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