The Congressional Budget Office

1. The framers of the Constitution intended the Supreme Court to be politically insulated. Despite this intent, the Supreme Court is not completely insulated from political influences.

a. Describe one constitutional provision that seeks to insulate the Supreme Court from public opinion.

b. Identify a power exercised by the Supreme Court that acts as a check on another branch of the federal government.

c. Explain how each of the following can limit the independence of the Supreme Court.

• Congress

• President

d. Explain how the Supreme Court protects its political independence.


2. Interest groups play an important role in the political process.

a. Identify the primary goal of interest groups.

b. Describe EACH of the following strategies used by interest groups.

• Lobbying

• Amicus curiae

c. Explain how EACH of the following hinders the success of interest groups in obtaining their primary goal.

• Separation of powers

• Bureaucratic discretion


3. The public policy process involves interactions between Congress and the bureaucracy.

a. Identify the primary role of Congress in the policy process.

b. Explain how divided party control of Congress can make the policy process difficult.

c. Identify the primary role of the bureaucracy in the policy process.

d. Explain how one of the following increases the power of the bureaucracy in the policy process.

· Rule making

· Bureaucratic discretion

e. Explain how each of the following enables Congress to limit the power of the bureaucracy.

· Oversight hearings

· Power of the purse


Source: The Congressional Budget Office, An Analysis of the President’s 2014 Budget, May 2013, and the Office of Management and Budget, FY 2014 Budget, Historical Tables, April 2013.

NOTE: Mandatory programs include Social Security, major federal health programs, other entitlement programs, and offsetting receipts.

4. Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are all mandatory spending programs, also known as entitlement programs.

a. Identify a change in federal spending between 1970 and 2023 (projected) based on the chart above.


b. Describe the difference between entitlement programs and discretionary programs.


c. Describe one demographic trend that has contributed to changes in entitlement spending.


d. Explain why changes in entitlement spending make balancing the federal budget difficult.


e. Explain how deficit spending affects the projected trend in net interest.


1. The United States is experiencing a dramatic shift in the American political landscape. These changes have consequences for political institutions.

0. Identify a trend depicted in the chart.

0. Assuming current voting patterns continue, explain how the trend identified in (a) is likely to affect the electoral success of either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.

0. Explain how the demographic changes shown in the chart above are likely to affect the way in which parties operate in Congress.

0. Describe two specific actions that presidents can take to respond to the demographic changes in the chart above.

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