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DARTMOUTH PBPL 020 - SYLLABUS

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Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social SciencesDartmouth College PBPL 20: CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN AMERICAN POLITICS AND PUBLIC POLICY Summer 2011 TermProfessor Charles Wheelan 2A: Tues./Thurs., 2:00-3:50 p.m.205 Rockefeller Hall X-Hour: Wed., 4:00-4:50 p.m.Telephone: 646-0650 Office Hours: Wed. 10:00-NoonEmail: [email protected] and by appointmentThis course addresses the major policy areas that are shaping the current political and policy debates at the national level. These issues include but are not limited to the federal deficit, healthcare reform, the public education system, financial bailouts, and partisan politics. Each policy area will feature a public lecture by a policy maker or expert in the area. In most cases, the guestspeakers will meet exclusively with the Public Policy 20 students for a lecture and question and answer session. In other cases, the guests will give a campus address that Public Policy 20 students will be required to attend.Course assessment will be based upon writing assignments and class participation. Students willprepare briefs on the week’s topic, questions for the featured speaker, and critiques of the speaker’s themes and responses.The lead instructor will be Professor Charles Wheelan ‘88, who is visiting from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. The other participating Dartmouth faculty members are Andrew Samwick, Bruce Sacerdote, Deborah Brooks, Dean Lacy, and President Jim Kim. Other faculty members may be invited to participate at points in the course. One course meeting each week will be devoted to preparing for the week’s speaker and discussing the content of the previous week. The second class meeting will be reserved for the guest speaker who will be asked to address an assigned topic. Every effort will be made to keep the invited guests on topic, so as to improve the depth and focus of the course.ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADINGThe class will require eight short memos (roughly 1,500 to 2,000 words) summarizing and critiquing the content of the week’s guest lecture. The memo should be modeled in tone and substance on an editorial critique that might appear in a major newspaper or news magazine. The focus of these assignments is threefold: 1) To expose students to the policy issues presented in the course and make them aware of the relevant political context; 2) To train students to think 1critically about the plans and ideas presented by the guest speakers; 3) To give students repeated opportunities to present their analysis succinctly and persuasively in writing. Students are also responsible for background reading on each week’s policy topic and for preparing questions in advance of class for each guest speaker. The course grade will be based on the following: an average of a student’s best six policy memos (70%); quizzes on course reading (20%); class participation and questions prepared in advance for our guest speakers (10%).COURSE LOGISTICSEach week, a specific faculty member will “own” the content. This faculty member will be responsible for preparing students on the relevant policy content in advance of the guest lecture, leading the Q and A with the guest speaker, and grading the weekly student memos. All reading is to be done for the Tuesday class. Weekly memos are due electronically on Monday at noon. Please note that for copyright reasons, you will only be able to access readings posted on Blackboard from a computer recognized as part of the Dartmouth community.BOOKSThe following books are required for the course. They are available at Wheelock Books:Wheelan. Introduction to Public Policy, W.W. Norton.Bittle and Johnson. Where Does the Money Go? Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis, Collins.Irwin. Free Trade Under Fire, Princeton University Press.Staff of the Washington Post. Landmark: The Inside Story of America’s New Health-Care Law and What It Means for Us All. Public Affairs, 2010.Robert Reich. Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, 2010.SPEAKERS AT A GLANCE6/23 Judd Gregg6/24 Tim Geithner 6/307/57/14 President Jim Kim7/18 Rob Portman7/217/25 Jon Huntsman7/28 Joel Klein8/4 Robert Reich8/11 Hank Paulson8/18 Jeff Immelt8/23 Frank Newport2WEEK 1: (THURSDAY, JUNE 23RD) OVERVIEW OF AMERICA’S BUDGET DEFICIT CHALLENGEFACULTY: WHEELAN, BROOKS, SAMWICKThe guests will address the current state of federal finances and how the nation ought to address those challenges. The talk may also address fiscal challenges at the state and local levels.THURSDAY, JUNE 23GUEST: SENATOR JUDD GREGGReading:Charles Krauthammer. “Our Salutary Debt-Ceiling Scare,” Washington Post, June 2, 2011.Charles Krauthammer. “The Grand Compromise,” Washington Post, April 14, 2011.Charles Krauthammer. “After Ryan’s Leap, a Rush of Deficit Demagoguery,” Washington Post, April 7, 2011.Eugene Robinson. “The G.O.P.’s Medicare Headache,” Washington Post, May 23, 2011.Eugene Robinson. “The Word Most Politicians Ignore: Jobs,” Washington Post, April 25, 2011.Eugene Robinson. “The Selfish Budget? Or the Selfless One,” Washington Post, April 14, 2011.Eugene Robinson. “In Budget Wars, the GOP Demands the Impossible,” Washington Post, April 11, 2011.FRIDAY, JUNE 24GUEST: TREASURY SECRETARY TIM GEITHNER WEEK 2: (JUNE 28TH AND 30TH)FISCAL CHALLENGES IIFACULTY: SAMWICKReadings:Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson. Where Does the Money Go? Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis. Revised edition, January 2011. Harper Paperbacks.Lawrence Summers, “The State of the U.S. Economy: Risks of Recession, Prospects for Policy,” Speech delivered at the Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, December 19, 2007. Andrew A. Samwick, “A Better Way to Deal with Downturns,” The Washington Post. January 27, 2008. Andrew A. Samwick, “A Budget that Plans for the Future,” The Ripon Forum, Volume 42, No. 1, February/March 2008, 27-28. Christina D. Romer, “Fiscal Policy in the Obama White House: Reasoning, Results, and Challenges Going Forward,” Speech delivered at Reed College, November 17, 2010. “The Moment of Truth,” Report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility andReform, December 1, 2010. 3Alan J. Auerbach and William G. Gale. “Tempting Fate: The Federal Budget Outlook,” Manuscript, University of California, Berkeley, June 2, 2011. Available at: (Optional) “I.O.U.S.A:


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