Public policy of the United States

Public policy consists of a system of laws, regulatory measures, courses of action, and funding priorities by a government or its representatives. Public policy decisions are often decided by a group of individuals with different beliefs and interests. The policies of the United States of America comprise all actions taken by its federal government. The executive branch is the primary entity through which policies are enacted, however the policies are derived from a collection of laws, executive decisions, and legal precedents.

Types of policies

The policies of the United States The Almanac of Policy Issues, which provides background information, archived documents, and links to major U.S. public policy issues, organized the public policy of the United States into nine categories. The following lists these categories followed by a few examples of specific, respective policies:

  • Criminal Justice: death penalty, drug policy, and gun control
  • Culture and Society: abortion, arts, and civil rights
  • Economic Affairs: budget and taxes
  • Education: elementary and secondary, and higher education
  • Environment: air quality and global warming
  • Government Operations: campaign finance reform and privatization
  • Health: health insurance and Medicare
  • Social Welfare: social security and welfare
  • Foreign Affairs and National Security: defense spending.

Agricultural policy

Agricultural policy of the United States is the governing policy for agriculture in the United States and is composed primarily of the periodically renewed federal U.S. farm bills.

In "A New Agricultural Policy for the United States," authors Dennis Keeney and Long Kemp summarize the agricultural policy of the United States as follows: "Because of its unique geography, weather, history and policies, the United States has an agriculture that has been dominated by production of commodity crops for use in animal, industrial and export enterprises. Over time agricultural policies evolved to support an industrialized, commodity-based agriculture. This evolution resulted in farmers leaving the land with agriculture moving to an industrial structure."

Drug policy

The drug policy of the United States is established by The Office of National Drug Control Policy, a former cabinet-level component of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, which was established by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. Its stated goal is to establish policies, priorities, and objectives to eradicate illicit drug use, drug manufacturing, and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences in the U.S.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy's two current specific goals are to "curtail illicit drug consumption in America" and to "improve the public health and public safety of the American people by reducing the consequences of drug abuse." They plan to achieve these goals by taking the following actions:

  • Strengthen efforts to prevent drug use in communities
  • Seek early intervention opportunities in health care
  • Integrate treatment for substance use disorders into health care, and expand support for recovery
  • Break the cycle of drug use, crime, delinquency, and incarceration
  • Disrupt domestic drug trafficking and production
  • Strengthen international partnerships
  • Improve information systems for analysis, assessment, and local management

Energy policy

The energy policy of the United States addresses issues of energy production, distribution, and consumption, such as building codes and gas mileage standards. The United States Department of Energy plays a major role, and its mission is "to ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions."

Moreover, the White House provides a summary of the United States' current condition regarding its energy policy: "For decades it has been clear that the way Americans produce and consume energy is not sustainable. Our addiction to foreign oil and fossil fuels puts our economy, our national security and our environment at risk. To take this country in a new direction, the President is working with Congress to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation to protect our nation from the serious economic and strategic risks associated with our reliance on foreign oil, to create jobs, and to cut down on the carbon pollution that contributes to the destabilizing effects of climate change."

The following is a snapshot of the United States' current energy policy goals:

  • Clean Energy Economy: make the investments in clean energy sources that will put Americans back in control of our energy future, create millions of new jobs and lay the foundation for long-term economic security. This will be accomplished by taking the following actions:
    • Initiating recovery act investments in clean energy
    • Applying more stringent appliance efficiency standards
    • Leading the way in sustainability
    • Creating efficiency standards for cars and trucks
    • Making homes more energy efficient

Environmental policy

The environmental policy of the United States addresses and regulates activities that impact the environment. Its general goal is to protect the environment for the welfare of future generations. The environmental policy goals are detailed below:

  • The Environment: the United States is committed to protecting our country's air, water, and land, from restoring ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay and the Everglades, to reducing the impacts of mountaintop mining. Specifically, the environment will be protected by taking the following actions:
    • Protecting our oceans
    • Land conservation
    • Restoring our ecosystems
    • Renewing the federal commitment to California's Bay Delta
    • Chesapeake Bay protection and restoration
    • Great Lakes restoration
    • Limiting mercury emissions
    • Reducing the environmental impact of mountaintop coal mining
    • Reinvigorate the National Environmental Policy Act
  • Climate Change: the United States is committed to leading the charge to reduce the dangerous pollution that causes global warming, and to make the investments in the clean energy technology that will power sustainable growth in the future. The following are actions that will be taken to accomplish climate change goals:
    • Providing international leadership
    • Monitoring greenhouse gas emissions
    • Developing climate change adaptations
    • Improving the educational curriculum for climate change science

Foreign policy

The foreign policy of the United States defines how the United States interacts with foreign nations. It addresses the security of the American people and promotes international order. The following are the most prominent foreign policies of the United States:

  • Refocusing on the threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Ending the war in Iraq responsibly
  • Keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists
  • Promoting peace and security in Israel and the Middle East
  • Re-energizing America's alliances
  • Maintaining core American values
  • Restoring American leadership in Latin America
  • Ensuring energy security and fighting climate change

Policy responses to the late-2000s recession

The Federal Reserve, Treasury, and Securities and Exchange Commission took several steps on September 19 to intervene in the crisis. To stop the potential run on money market mutual funds, the Treasury also announced on September 19 a new $50 billion program to insure the investments, similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) program. Part of the announcements included temporary exceptions to section 23A and 23B (Regulation W), allowing financial groups to more easily share funds within their group. The exceptions would expire on January 30, 2009, unless extended by the Federal Reserve Board. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced termination of short-selling of 799 financial stocks, as well as action against naked short selling, as part of its reaction to the mortgage crisis.


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