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Types of Public Policy in the United States

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  • 0:02 Public Policy Overview
  • 0:33 Domestic Policy
  • 2:35 Foreign Policy
  • 3:52 Porous Policy Boundaries
  • 4:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
'What should the government do about it?' This is a fundamental public policy question, and the scope of 'it' continues to expand in our modern society. In this lesson, you'll learn about different types of public policy in the United States.

Public Policy - An Overview

Senator John Smith is a United States Senator who is up for reelection. Tonight, he is engaging in a debate with Jane Doe who is challenging him for his Senate seat. The focus of tonight's debate is public policy, which is the objectives that a government sets regarding the health, welfare and safety of its citizens and the actions it takes to accomplish the objectives. You can generally divide public policy developed and implemented by the United States into domestic policy and foreign policy. Let's take a closer look.

Domestic Policy

The senatorial candidates start their debate with issues of domestic policies, which are policies that are generally confined to problems and issues inside the country. They generally address the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the country. Domestic policy can be further broken up into several sub-categories, including:

1. Social policy, which relates to issues that affect the general welfare of everyday citizens.

In the United States, this includes social insurance programs, like Social Security and unemployment insurance. It also includes public assistance programs, like cash assistance, housing assistance and food stamps.

2. Public health policy, which focuses on the health of the population and includes both efforts to promote and protect the health of the population.

Federal programs providing health care include Medicare and Medicaid. Public heath also involves implementing and enforcing regulations protecting the public, such as food and drug regulations.

3. Education policy, which is concerned with the education of citizens.

Traditionally, primary and secondary education has been the purview of local government, but federal and state governments have become more involved. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education is a cabinet-level department.

4. Environmental policy, which focuses on regulating the manner in which we interact with the environment, such as clean water and air regulations.

It may also include promoting certain sustainable activities, such as recycling and development of renewable energy sources.

5. Criminal justice policy, which is concerned with law and order.

It involves deciding what behavior will be illegal and how perpetrators will be punished. It may also involve crime prevention programs, such as anti-drug campaigns.

6. Economic policy, which attempts to create and maintain a strong economy.

It seeks to accomplish this through manipulation of the tax rate, government spending, interest rates and money supply. Economic policy also involves regulating business activities and consumer transactions.

Foreign Policy

After finishing their debate on domestic policy, the two candidates move onto foreign policy. Foreign policy is the strategic plan of a government in dealings with other countries and international actors on the world stage, ranging from the United Nations to a terrorist cell. Execution of foreign policies involves several activities, including:

1. Diplomacy, which is the management of relations between foreign countries through peaceful means, including negotiation, treaties and foreign aid.

2. Defense policy, which involves providing for the international security of the country through the projection of military power.

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