108 Glossary

What Is Public Policy?

public policy the broad strategy government uses to do its job; the relatively stable set of purposive governmental behaviors that address matters of concern to some part of society

Categorizing Public Policy

distributive policy a policy that collect payments or resources broadly but concentrates direct benefits on relatively few

free-market economics a school of thought that believes the forces of supply and demand, working without any government intervention, are the most effective way for markets to operate

libertarians people who believe that government almost always operates less efficiently than the private sector and that its actions should be kept to a minimum

redistributive policy a policy in which costs are born by a relatively small number of groups or individuals, but benefits are expected to be enjoyed by a different group in society

regulatory policy a policy that regulates companies and organizations in a way that protects the public

Policy Arenas

entitlement a program that guarantees benefits to members of a specific group or segment of the population

Medicaid a health insurance program for low-income citizens

Medicare an entitlement health insurance program for older people and retirees who no longer get health insurance through their work

safety net a way to provide for members of society experiencing economic hardship

Social Security a social welfare policy for people who no longer receive an income from employment


bottom-up implementation a strategy in which the federal government allows local areas some flexibility to meet their specific challenges and needs in implementing policy

Congressional Budget Office the congressional office that scores the spending or revenue impact of all proposed legislation to assess its net effect on the budget

policy advocates people who actively work to propose or maintain public policy

policy analysts people who identify all possible choices available to a decision maker and assess the potential impact of each

top-down implementation a strategy in which the federal government dictates the specifics of public policy and each state implements it the same exact way

Budgeting and Tax Policy

debt the total amount the government owes across all years

deficit the annual amount by which expenditures are greater than revenues

discretionary spending government spending that Congress must pass legislation to authorize each year

excise taxes taxes applied to specific goods or services as a source of revenue

Keynesian economics an economic policy based on the idea that economic growth is closely tied to the ability of individuals to consume goods

laissez-faire an economic policy that assumes the key to economic growth and development is for the government to allow private markets to operate efficiently without interference

mandatory spending government spending earmarked for entitlement programs guaranteeing support to those who meet certain qualifications

progressive tax a tax that tends to increase the effective tax rate as the wealth or income of the tax payer increases

recession a temporary contraction of the economy in which there is no economic growth for two consecutive quarters

regressive tax a tax applied at a lower overall rate as individuals’ income rises

supply-side economics an economic policy that assumes economic growth is largely a function of a country’s productive capacity


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Federal Government Copyright © by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book