Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

Real World Graduation, Question 84: Cabinet Nominations

RealWorldGraduation_Question_84_Cabinet_Nominations   <– PDF

Article 2, Section 2 of the U. S. Constitution states, regarding the office of the President:

“He shall have power, by and with the consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law; but the Congress may by law vest the appointments of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in courts of law, or in heads of departments.”

The President’s Cabinet members fall under the category of “officers of the United States”, and require confirmation by the Senate.  A member of the U. S. Senate once voted against the creation of a federal Department of Education (although it passed).  But now, many years later, he has been nominated by the President to be the Secretary (head) of the Department of Education.  On what grounds should the Senate confirm or not confirm him?

a) His original opposition to the creation of any federal Department proves that he cannot be trusted to lead any department. Therefore the Senate should not confirm him.

b) The Senate should not confirm him. The fact that he voted against the creation of the Department proves he is opposed to education, so schools will get worse under his “leadership”.

c) The Senate should not confirm him. If he voted against the creation of the Department, then it is likely that he has contempt for teachers, teachers unions, Department of Education workers, and children in general.  Such a person would not command respect within the department.

d) The Senate should confirm him only in the interest of getting him out of the Senate. True, his original vote proves he is unqualified, but he will do less harm overall as a member of the bureaucracy than as a member of the Senate.

e) The Senate should confirm him only if he promises not to change current policy and promises to recuse himself from budget debates; that way, his biases against education will have no practical effect.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation, Question 78: Tax Rates

RealWorldGraduation_Question_78_Tax_Rates   <– PDF

The U. S. has a graduated personal income tax system.  This means that income levels are divided into several levels, and those income divisions are taxed at different rates.  The tax rates increase as the amount of income increases.  The tax rate of the lowest division of income is called the “base rate”, and all the other tax rates at the higher income levels are called “marginal rates”.  As a person’s income increases, the marginal rates become higher, hence the name “graduated tax”.  For example, in tax year 2014, the income level divisions and marginal rates for single persons and married couples were:

a) 10% rate for incomes between $0 and $9075 (single person), $0 to $18150 (married)

b) 15% rate for incomes between $9075 and $36900 (single), $18150 to $73800 (married)

c) 25% rate for incomes between $36900 and $89350 (single); $73800 to $148850 (married)

d) 28% rate for incomes between $89350 and 186350 (single); $148850 to $226850 (married)

e) 33% rate for incomes between $186350 and $405100 (single); $226850 to $405100 (married)

f) 35% rate for incomes between $405100 and $406750 (single); $405100 to $457600 (married)

g) 6% rate for incomes above $406750 (single); and above $457600 (married)

There are slightly different marginal rates for “heads of household”, but those are not relevant for this topic.

The overall size of the federal government depends on how much tax revenue it can obtain. It is clear from the tax schedule above that those who earn more must generally pay more in taxes.  Some activists desire to reduce the size of the government by using a tactic they call “starving the beast”.  The idea is that if marginal tax rates are reduced, the government will receive less income tax revenue, and thus will ultimately force the government to reduce its budget targets.  The claim is that in the long run, steadily declining revenue will require the government to reduce its spending and therefore its size.  In other words, nearly all taxpayers would have more money left over from their paycheck.  In what ways could this policy “starve the beast”?

a) Money that would otherwise go to the government can be spent on appliances, cars, etc; the benefit accrues to selfish individuals and deprives the government of some revenue.

b) Money that would otherwise go to the government can be spent on furthering one’s education; the benefit accrues to selfish individuals and deprives the government of some revenue.

c) Money that would otherwise go to the government can be spent on charitable causes. The benefits accrue to the less fortunate, but deprives the government of some revenue.

d) Money that would otherwise go to the government can be spent on vacations or saved for the future; either way, the benefit accrues to selfish individuals and deprives the government of some revenue.

e) All of the above to varying degrees, depending on individual preferences.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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RealWorldGraduation_Question_72_CongressionalSalaries  <— PDF

Please see the PDF for both the question and answer.

Thanks,

EDD

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Real World Graduation: Question 33

RealWorldGraduation_Question_33   <– PDF

“Lobbying” is the term used when a person or organization spends money and energy to influence legislators, administrations, and courts to adopt policies favorable to the person or organization. It has been estimated that a total of about $3 billion was spent by lobbyists in Washington in 2007, mostly in the course of influencing Congress.  Among the groups that have lobbying activities in Washington are finance, insurance, real estate, medical industry, unions, trade associations (such as construction, firemen, police, miners, plumbers, electricians), industrial associations (such as automotive, tobacco), and the various ethnic, civil rights, and conservation activist groups.  The influence of lobbyists has become so pervasive that often it is lobby groups that actually write the legislation that Congress votes on.  Generally, these legislative initiatives involve a change in tax conditions or status, or changes in the amount and type of regulation.  Congress is supposed to be working in the interests of the people, but most legislation is pushed through due to the activity and influence of lobbyists.   In what ways do lobbyists present a problem for the legislative function?

a) Congress opens itself up for legitimate criticism by accepting money, gifts, favors, and travel from lobbyists.

b) There is considerable risk that corporate interests will gain unfair tax advantages because they wrote the legislation for that purpose

c) There is some risk that insufficient regulations will be enacted due to lobbying influence, because the legislation was written by those who will benefit from the change in regulation.

d) There is some risk that unions will engage in unethical activities because they get favorable treatment under the law, which occurs because they wrote the legislation for that purpose.

e) A combination of a) , b), and c).

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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