Answer the following questions to see how your political beliefs match your political parties and candidates.
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks the U.S. Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force. The resolution authorizes the president to undertake war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates without Congressional approval. Since 2001 the law has been used to approve military conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Proponents argue that the law is necessary to give the President the powers to act quickly in order to prevent another terrorist attack on the U.S. Opponents argue that all U.S. military conflicts should have Congressional approval and this act has been used in military conflicts that have nothing to do with al-Qaeda.
The United States began using drones to conduct targeted killings in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. President George W. Bush authorized dozens of drone strikes against terrorism suspects , and President Barack Obama continued this practice and actually expanded the use of drones. Drones use continued under President Trump and President Biden. Drones were used in areas of war, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and also against terrorist suspects found in countries such as Pakistan, Somalia and Libya.
Global warming, or climate change, is an increase in the earth’s atmospheric temperature since the late nineteenth century. In politics the debate over global warming is centered on whether this increase in temperature is due to greenhouse gas emissions or is the result of a natural pattern in the earth’s temperature. In 2022 Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act which included hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for investing in renewable-energy projects and producing energy from renewable sources. The bill also included credits to help factories retool to turn out electric vehicles and awards tax credits to help homeowners upgrade their homes with more energy-efficient products. It gives a $7,500 tax credit for purchasing electric vehicles, although with conditions that could make it hard to qualify. Proponents of the bill argue that it encourages business and individuals to adopt renewal energy and move away from fossil fuels. Opponents argue that the bill lacked funding for natural gas and nuclear energy which are more reliable and cheaper to produce.
In June 2017, President Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord in an effort to boost the nation’s industry and energy independence. Mr. Trump argued that the climate accord was unfair to the U.S. since the agreement imposed easier restrictions on China and India who lead the world in carbon emissions. Opponents of the climate agreement argue that it unfairly penalizes U.S. energy companies and consumers by imposing restrictions on domestic energy production. Proponents of the climate accord argue that exiting it sets back decades of diplomatic efforts by the U.S. government to reduce worldwide carbon emissions.
In July 2022 the Biden administration issued a draft plan to expand oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. The proposal from the Department of the Interior recommends holding up to 10 lease sales in the Gulf over the next five years, as well as one sale in the Cook Inlet off the coast of south-central Alaska. Under the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the federal government must plan for offshore oil and gas leasing on a five-year basis. The previous plan was finalized under President Barack Obama in 2016, went into effect in 2017, and expired in 2022. Opponents include environmentalists, who argue that it will be impossible to limit oil and gas consumption without simultaneously phasing out the production of fossil fuels. Proponents argue that expanding oil drilling makes the US more energy independent and lowers the cost of gasoline for consumers.
Wind energy was the source of about 9.2% of total U.S. electricity generation and about 46% of electricity generation from renewable energy in 2021. Wind turbines convert wind energy into electricity. President Biden’s 2021 $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan included a 10 year extension of wind and solar tax credits. Qualifying wind farms will receive tax benefits based on their output for a 10-year period. The credits, which can be shared with investment partners, reduce federal tax bills. Opponents to wind farms, including many environmental biologists argue that they are one of the biggest threats to birds of prey and migratory bird species (killing an estimated 6000 birds every year) and that construction of the wind farm projects require large scale land clearing. Proponents argue that wind power is a clean, efficient alternative to fossil fuels.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a 19-million-acre national wildlife refuge in northern Alaska. The refuge includes a large variety of species of plants and animals, such as polar bears, grizzly bears, black bears, moose, caribou, wolves, eagles, lynx, wolverine, marten, beaver and migratory birds, which rely on the refuge. In August 2020 the Trump administration approved program to auction oil leases that would enable oil companies to drill for oil within the refuge. Environmentalists argue that oil development threatens wildlife and is likely to worsen climate change. Proponents argue that drilling would be limited to the coastal ranges and would make the U.S. more energy independent.
In 2016, France became the first country to ban the sale of plastic disposable products that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material and in 2017, India passed a law banning all plastic disposable plastic products. In the U.S. the states of California, Connecticut, Colorado Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Vermont have banned disposable bags.
Fracking is the process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to flow out to a well. While fracking has significantly boosted oil production, there are environmental concerns that the process is contaminating groundwater. The Permian Basin accounts for 43% of U.S. oil production and is currently the most productive oil shale reserve in the country. In June 2022 The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it may deem parts of the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico in “non-attainment” with its ozone standards. Since the EPA does not have the authority to ban fracking many observers see the agency’s designation as a threat to shut down the U.S.’s largest fracking operation. Opponents of fracking argue that it uses toxic chemicals and negatively effects human health. Proponents argue that fracking is important for energy independence and blocking energy development locally simply outsources it somewhere else, often with much greater social and environmental consequences.
The Dakota Access pipeline is a 1,172 mile oil pipeline that stretches through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and southern Illinois. The pipeline would allow oil companies to transport crude oil from North Dakota to oil refineries along the Eastern Seaboard. The pipeline’s construction was permitted by the participating state governments under eminent domain. Opponents of the pipeline (including several Native American tribes, including the Meskwaki and Sioux tribal nations) argue that the pipeline has the potential to pollute their water supply and destroy Native American burial sites. Proponents argue that the pipeline is necessary for the U.S. to achieve energy independence.
Animal testing is the use of non-human animals in experiments that seek to control the variables that affect the behavior or biological system under study. Examples of applied research include testing disease treatments, breeding, defense research, and toxicology, including cosmetics testing. In education, animal testing is sometimes a component of biology or psychology courses. There is no nationwide ban on animal testing in the United States. The humane society estimates that more than 50 million dogs, cats, monkeys, rabbits, rats and other animals undergo testing each year in the US.
In November 2018 the online e-commerce company Amazon announced it would be building a second headquarters in New York City and Arlington, VA. The announcement came a year after the company announced it would accept proposals from any North American city who wanted to host the headquarters. Amazon said the company could invest over $5 billion and the offices would create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. More than 200 cities applied and offered Amazon millions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks. For the New York City headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $2.8 billion in tax credits and construction grants. For the Arlington, VA headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $500 million in tax breaks. Opponents argue that governments should spend the tax revenue on public projects instead and that the federal government should pass laws banning tax incentives. The European Union has strict laws which prevent member cities from bidding against each other with state aid (tax incentives) in an effort to lure private companies. Proponents argue that the jobs and tax revenue created by the companies eventually offset the cost of any awarded incentives.
In 2022 September 2022 the U.S. Transportation Department approved electric vehicle charging station plans for all 50 states, Washington and Puerto Rico covering about 75,000 miles of highways. The November 2021 $1 trillion infrastructure bill provides $5 billion to help states install EV chargers along interstate highways over five years. Federal funds will cover 80% of EV charging costs, with private or state funds making up the balance. Proponents argue that electric vehicles reduce the use of fossil fuels, and the national network of charging stations will help drivers overcome “range anxiety”—the fear that EV drivers will run out of power while traveling long distances. Opponents argue that government involvement will monopolize and slow down the roll out of charging stations. Other opponents argue that electric vehicles are a small sector of the automobile market and the government should not fund it at this time.
The United States Electoral College is the mechanism established by the United States Constitution for the indirect election of the President of the United States and Vice President of the United States. Citizens of the United States vote in each state at a general election to choose a slate of “electors” pledged to vote for a party’s candidate. The Twelfth Amendment requires each elector to cast one vote for president and another vote for vice president. During the 2019 Democratic Presidential Primary 15 candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Elisabeth Warren, called for the abolition of the electoral college.
A foreigner is defined a person who is not a citizen of the United States. Federal law has prohibited noncitizens from voting in federal election since the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act was passed in 1996. Punishment includes fines, imprisonment, inadmissibility, and deportation. Exempt from punishment is any noncitizen who, at the time of voting, had two natural or adoptive U.S. citizen parents, who began permanently living in the United States before turning 16 years old, and who reasonably believed that they were a citizen of the United States. Federal law does not prohibit noncitizens from voting in state or local elections, but no state has allowed noncitizens to vote in state elections since Arkansas became the last state to outlaw noncitizen voting in 1926. As of December 2021, fourteen US Cities allow non-citizen voting including New York City, Montpelier in Vermont, San Francisco (school board only), and Washington, D.C.
In 2002 the federal government passed the Help America Vote Act. The law required first-time voters in Federal Elections to present a form of identification to the appropriate State or local election official before or on election day if they registered by mail. Forms of acceptable identification include a current and valid photo identification, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statements, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter. Voters who submitted any of these forms of identification during registration are exempt, as are voters entitled to vote by absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. If a voter submits a ballot by mail a copy of the ID must be submitted with the ballot. Seven US stated currently have strict voter ID laws in which a voter cannot cast a valid ballot without first presenting ID.
A tax return is a document which states how much income an individual or entity reported to the government. In the U.S. there is no legal requirement of any kind that presidential candidates release tax returns from any year. Tax returns can be released by an individual taxpayer, but cannot released by the IRS to the public. However, one Senator has proposed legislation requiring presidential candidates to release tax returns. In 2016 a U.S. Senator proposed the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. The bill would require a presidential candidate to release the most recent three years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 15 days of becoming the nominee at the party convention. If the candidate refuses to comply, the Treasury Secretary would provide the tax returns directly to the FEC for public release.
In the U.S. a citizen may give $2,700 per election to a federal candidate, $5,000 per year to a PAC, $10,000 per year to a State or local party committee and $33,400 per year to a national party. Citizens and corporations may give unlimited amounts to a Super PAC. A Super PAC is freed from traditional campaign finance laws as long as it does not fund a candidate or campaign or coordinate directly with a campaign how to spend donations.
In 1971 the U.S. Congress ratified the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which prohibited states from allowing anyone under the age of 18 to vote. Before the amendment was passed the minimum voting age was 21 years of age. Support to lower the age of 18 was driven in part by the draft of the Vietnam War which conscripted young men between the ages of 18 and 21 to join the armed forces. In 2021 U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) reintroduced legislation in the House of Representatives to lower the voting age in America to 16 years old. In order to pass the legislation would have to be ratified as a Constitutional Amendment.
The U.S. Constitution does not prevent convicted felons from holding the office of the President or a seat in the Senate or House of Representatives. Individuals who have been convicted of sedition, seditious conspiracy, treason, conspiracy to defraud the United States or selling information on national defense may not run for federal office. Cities and States may prevent convicted felons from holding statewide and local offices.
In the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United vs FEC, court ruled that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent expenditures for political campaigns by corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations. The court’s landmark decision overturned the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as “McCain-Feingold.” That law had prohibited unregulated contributions to national political parties and limited the use of corporate and union money to fund advertisements discussing political issues within 60 days of a general election.
In the 2020 U.S. federal election foreign lobbyists donated more than $33.5 million to candidates, political parties, and interest groups. In the United States foreign nationals are prohibited by law from making contributions to political groups or campaigns to influence U.S. elections. Foreign nationals can hire foreign agents or lobbyists to advocate for their interests and make political contributions on their behalf. The Foreign Agents Registration Act is a United States law that imposes public disclosure requirements and other legal obligations on persons representing foreign interests. Under FARA, “foreign agents” — defined as individuals and entities engaged in domestic political or advocacy work on behalf of foreign governments, organizations, or persons (“foreign principals”)—must register with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and disclose their relationship, activities, and related financial compensation. Foreign agents registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act during the 2020 election cycle made at least $8.5 million in political contributions. Another $25 million in 2020 political contributions came from lobbyists representing foreign clients, including U.S. subsidiaries owned or controlled by foreign parent companies, registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
Lobbying describes paid activity in which special interest groups hire well-connected professional advocates, often lawyers, to argue for specific legislation in decision-making bodies such as the United States Congress. Analysts estimate that there are over 100,000 working lobbyists in Washington D.C. who bring in a combined revenue of over $9 billion annually. In 2007 the U.S. Congress passed the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act” which placed lobbying “cooling off” periods for members of Congress and their staff. Senators and their staff were now prohibited from registering as lobbyists for 1-2 years after they left office.
In January 2014, 102 measles cases linked to an outbreak at Disneyland were reported in 14 states. The outbreak alarmed the CDC, which declared the disease eliminated in the U.S. in the year 2000. Many health officials have tied the outbreak to the rising number of unvaccinated children under the age of 12. Proponents of a mandate argue that vaccines are necessary in order to insure herd immunity against preventable diseases. Herd immunity protects people who are unable to get vaccines due to their age or health condition. Opponents of a mandate believe the government should not be able to decide which vaccines their children should receive. Some opponents also believe there is a link between vaccinations and autism and vaccinating their children will have destructive consequences on their early childhood development.
Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power station. In the U.S. 100 nuclear reactors provide 20% of the country's energy. Proponents argue that nuclear energy is now safe and emits much less carbon emissions than coal plants. Opponents argue that recent nuclear disasters in Japan prove that nuclear power is far from safe.
Currently, GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) foods in the United States are not classified differently by the FDA and do not require labeling. Although no reports of ill effects from GMO foods have been documented, advocacy groups such as Greenpeace and the Organic Consumers Association argue that past studies cannot be trusted because they were sponsored by pro-GMO companies and do not measure the long-term effects on humans, the environment, and nature. Opponents argue that labeling adds an unfounded stigma over organic foods and that if a nutritional or allergenic difference were found, current FDA regulations would already require a label.
In 2022 Congress’ increased NASA’s annual budget by 3% to about $24 billion, short of the 7% increase the Biden administration sought. The budget includes $1.5 billion in funds for the moon-lander program which would, for the first time in decades, take astronauts back to the lunar surface.
The U.S. military budge pays the salaries, training, and health care of uniformed and civilian personnel, maintains arms, equipment and facilities, funds operations, and develops and buys new items. The 2023 U.S. military budget is $773 billion, an increase of 4% over 2022’s budget. The budget includes $177.5 billion for the Army, $194 billion for the Air Force and Space Force and $230.8 billion for the Navy and Marine Corps. Other country’s 2021 military budgets were China $293 billion, United Kingdom $68.4 billion and Russia $66 billion.
In 2002, the George W. Bush administration issued the Torture Memos which argued for a narrow definition of torture under U.S. law. They included granting the CIA authority to use “enhanced interrogation techniques” on enemy combatants. The techniques included waterboarding subjection to extreme cold and confinement in small boxes.
After the September 11, 2001 terror attacks the George W. Bush administration authorized the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” at secret detention facilities around the world run by the defense department and CIA. The authorization approved the use of many techniques including beatings, binding in stress positions, hooding, sleep deprivation and waterboarding. In 2008 President Obama signed an executive order banning the use torture by the U.S. military and CIA. In 2016 the use of torture became a topic during the Presidential race when candidate Donald Trump suggested it should be used against the Islamic State. Opponents of torture argue that the U.S. should never practice torture since it is inhumane and illegal under international law. Proponents argue that the military should not be prevented from using torture if they believe it will keep the country safe.
Foreign aid is a transfer of financial resources or commodities or technical advice and training. The resources can take the form of grants or concessional credits (e.g., export credits). Foreign aid is used to support US national security and commercial interests and can also be distributed for humanitarian reasons. Aid spending is financed by U.S. taxpayers and distributed through 20 government agencies that manage foreign assistance programs. In 2020 the U.S. distributed $39 billion on economic assistance, $25 billion through the U.S. Agency for International Development and $11.6 billion on military assistance.
The UN. is an organization of governments founded in 1945 after World War II. The organization’s objectives include promoting peace and security, protecting human rights, the environment and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict. Recent U.N. interventions include the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The U.S. joined the U.N. as a founding member in 1945. The U.S. is the largest financial contributor to the UN and contributes more than $11.5 billion or 25% of its total budget annually.
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $150 in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding since the country’s founding in 1948. Nearly all of U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance. In fiscal year 2022 the Biden administration requested $3.8 billion in military aid for Israel.
Conscription is the state-mandated enlistment of people in a national military service. In the U.S. the Select Service System drafted men for World War 1, World War 2 and Vietnam. Military service is currently not required in the U.S. Proponents of required service argue that it isn’t fair that a small percentage of Americans serve in the military to protect the rest of the population. Opponents argue that the requirement is unnecessary because modern warfare is fought less and less with ground troops and more with unmanned technology including drones.
The United States embargo against Cuba prevents American businesses from conducting trade with Cuban interests. In December 2014 President Obama ordered the restoration of full democratic relations with Cuba. The order lifted a 54-year-old trade embargo and eased restrictions on banking and American’s travel to the country. When President Trump took office in 2017 his administration re-imposed the U.S. travel ban, citing Cuba poor record with human rights. In July 2021 President Biden imposed new sanctions on Cuba’s police force and on two of Cuba’s leaders in response to the 2021 Cuban protests. Proponents of relations with Cuba argue that U.S. influence through tourism and trade will promote capitalism and weaken its communist regime. Opponents argue that trade and diplomatic relations will only strengthen the communist regime’s grip on the Cuban government.
Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles deployed by U.S. defense and intelligence agencies to collect data and strike suspected enemy targets. The first known U.S. strike was the 2002 killing of al-Qaeda operative Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi in Yemen. Between 2022 and 2020 the U.S. killed between 9,000 and 18,000 enemy combatants and 900-2200 civilians with drone strikes. Opponents of drone strikes have long contended strikes that kill civilians essentially serve as a recruiting poster for terrorist groups. In 2010, a man named Faisal Shahzad tried and failed to bomb Times Square in New York City. Later, Shahzad cited US drone strikes as his motivation for the failed bombing. Proponents of drone strikes argue that they can kill high value w=enemy targets without putting soldiers into combat.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on April 4th, 1949. It is a political and military alliance of member countries from Europe and North America that agree to provide military and economic security for each other. NATO makes all of its decisions by consensus and every member country, no matter how large or small, has an equal say.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance formed by 28 countries in 1949 after the Second World War. To join NATO each member country pledged to spend at least 2% of their GDP on military spending and defense and defend each other against threats from any non-member country. At the NATO Summit of 2014, each member agreed on a goal of spending 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense by 2024. Member nations further agreed to devote at least 20% of defense spending on major new equipment and associated Research and Development. As of 2020, eleven of the 30 member nations met the 2% of GDP goal. These nations are Estonia, France, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, United Kingdom, and United States. In a July 2016 interview with the New York Times Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested that the United States would not defend NATO member countries who had failed to increase their military budgets to above 2% of Gross Domestic Product.
In December 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced the U.S. would move it’s embassy there. The announcement was controversial as both Israel and Palestine claim that Jerusalem is their capital. Foreign governments that recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel support the notion that Israel has sovereignty over the city. In 1949 Israel took control of the western half of the city and Jordan took control of the eastern half. In 2017 the current population of Jerusalem was 61% Jewish and 37% are Arab. Opponents argue that moving the U.S. embassy to Israel is a violation of international law and would set back decades of peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Proponents argue that Jerusalem has been the defect capital of Israel for many years and foreign governments should recognize it.
The cache of documents revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed that the U.S. used surveillance methods to monitor the emails and phone calls of its closest foreign allies including Germany, France and Brazil. The revelations have severely damaged the U.S.'s relationship with these countries even though State Department officials have insisted that these surveillance programs have thwarted many terrorist threats worldwide.
On February 24 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. The invasion caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, with around 7.1 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. It has also caused global food shortages. From February 2022 – September 2022 the U.S. government approved approximately $50 billion in economic and military aid for Ukraine. The funding is earmarked for training, equipment, weapons and other support—such as salaries and stipends—for Ukraine’s military and security forces and budgetary support for Ukrainian government operations.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 member states – 28 European and two North American. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the Ukrainian government repeatedly requested to be accepted into NATO as a member country. Ukraine’s NATO membership has long been a thorny subject in amongst U.S. government officials due to Article 5 of the alliance’s charter. Article 5 requires the U.S. to militarily defend any member-nation that comes under attack. NATO members countries fear that Ukraine’s immediate entry into NATO — which requires the unanimous approval of all 30 member-nations — would put the U.S. and Russia at war due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine as well as its forced annexations announced in September 2022.
In September 2018, the U.S. signed a security agreement with India unlocked the sales of billions of dollars of high-tech American weapons. India will purchase fighter jets, transport planes, drones and missile defense systems from American military manufacturers including Lockheed Martin. The U.S. government is seeking India as an ally to counter the rise of China and Russia’s military strength in the Indo-Pacific region. Proponents argue that the agreement is necessary to counter China and Russia’s influence and the agreement will generate billions of dollars in revenue for U.S. military defense contractors. Opponents argue that the agreement will encourage China and Russia to beef up their militaries and trigger a global arms race.
The F-35 fighter is a stealth fighter jet being produced for the U.S. military by The Lockheed Martin corporation. Three variations of the single seat stealth fighter jet are being produced for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. By 2037 2,457 F-35’s will be delivered to the military and will fly until they retire from service in 2070. The research, development and construction of the F-35 will be the most expensive military weapons program in the history of the U.S. When the F-35 retires in 2070 analysts estimate that the cost of the program will have exceeded $1.5 trillion. Opponents of the program argue that costs for the program are out of control and that the military should scrap the F-35 and continue to fly its current planes. Proponents argue that the fighter is necessary for the U.S. military to maintain its edge over foreign adversaries.
In June 2019 tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalated after a U.S. surveillance drone was shot down by Iran’s revolutionary guard in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. claimed it was an “unprovoked attack” and the drone was flying in international airspace. 2 weeks earlier the Trump administration blamed Iran for the attacks on two oil tankers who were bombed in the Gulf of Oman. Iran denied any involvement. In early June Iran announced that it would break its uranium stockpile limit set under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Under the deal Iran was allowed to keep a maximum of 660 pounds of uranium enriched to 3.67%. Analysts predict that if the uranium is enriched to 20% or more Iran would be capable of developing nuclear weapons.
The Affordable Care Act is a federal statute signed into law in 2010 that introduces a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system. The act grants the federal government significant regulatory powers and price controls over U.S. medical service providers and insurance companies. The Act’s landmark provisions included an insurance mandate which prohibited insurers from denying coverage to individuals due to preexisting conditions and insurance requirements for individual children who did not have coverage via their families. The Act also required states to set up and maintain health insurance exchanges where individuals, families and small businesses can purchase private insurance plans. Individuals who remained uninsured would be subject to a fine tax with their annual tax returns. The fine clause was overturned in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the fine for violating the individual mandate.
When the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was enacted in 2010 it required all states to expand their Medicaid programs to include people with incomes slightly higher than those allowed under traditional Medicaid, as well as groups, like childless adults, that had not previously been covered. In 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that forcing States to expand their Medicaid coverage was unconstitutional. Since then 22 states have expanded their coverage and more than 35 have opted not to do so. Proponents of the expansion argue that it will lower healthcare costs for everyone by reducing the number of Americans without health insurance. Opponents argue that states should be allowed to run their own Medicaid programs without the intervention of the federal government.
In September 2021 President Biden announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would require businesses with 100 or more employees to make vaccination a condition of employment. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 authorizes OSHA to enact rules that are “reasonably necessary or appropriate to provide safe or healthful employment and places of employment.” The mandate applies to all employees, even those who work from home. Proponents of the mandate argue that this will help end the pandemic by achieving President Biden’s goal of vaccinating over 95% of Americans. Opponents argue that the rule is unconstitutional and cite evidence that people who already have natural immunity are at heightened risk of vaccine side effects caused by an augmented inflammatory response.
The World Health Organization was founded in 1948 and is a specialized agency of the United Nations whose main objective is “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” The organization provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey. The WHO has led global public health efforts including the development of an Ebola Vaccine and the near-eradication of polio and smallpox. The organization is run by a decision-making body composed of representatives from 194 countries. It is funded by voluntary contributions from member countries and private donors. In 2018 and 2019 the WHO had a $5 billion budget and the leading contributors were the United States (15%) , the EU (11%) and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (9%). In July 2020 President Donald Trump notified the World Health Organization that the U.S. would withdraw all funding within 12 months. Trump accused the WHO of helping China cover up its role in the Covid-19 pandemic. In January 2021 President Biden signed letters retracting Trump’s decision to withdraw from WHO. He also appointed Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, to represent the United States on the WHO’s executive committee.
In January 2018, the Trump administration announced that it would allow U.S. states to require able-bodied adults to work in order to be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for low-income Americans. Each state determines its own requirements for Medicaid eligibility. In most states children from low-income households, pregnant women and low-income seniors are covered. Medicaid also offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare, like nursing home care and personal care services. The Trump administration said Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin had requested approval to test programs including job training, job search, education, volunteer activities and caregiving.
The recreational use of cannabis has been legalized in 19 U.S. states and Washington D.C. Another 12 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have decriminalized its use. Commercial distribution of cannabis has been legalized in all jurisdictions where possession has been legalized, except for D.C. Personal cultivation for recreational use is allowed in all of these jurisdictions except for Washington State and New Jersey. Proponents argue that marijuana sales bring in tax revenue for states and cut down on non-violent drug incarcerations. Opponents argue that marijuana is a powerful recreational drug that can lead to addiction and psychosis.
Single-payer healthcare is a system where every citizen pays the government to provide core healthcare services for all residents. Under this system the government may provide the care themselves or pay a private healthcare provider to do so. In a single-payer system all residents receive healthcare regardless of age, income or health status. Countries with single-payer healthcare systems include the U.K., Canada, Taiwan, Israel, France, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
In 2018, officials in the U.S. city of Philadelphia city proposed opening a “safe haven” in an effort to combat the city's heroin epidemic. In 2016 64,070 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses - a 21% increase from 2015. 3/4 of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. are caused by the opioid class of drugs which includes prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. To combat the epidemic cities including Vancouver, BC and Sydney, AUS opened safe havens where addicts can inject drugs under the supervision of medical professionals. The safe havens reduce the overdose death rate by insuring the addicted patients are given drugs that are not contaminated or poisoned. Since 2001 5,900 people have overdosed at a safe haven in Sydney, Australia but no one has died. Proponents argue that the safe havens are the only proven solution to lower the overdose fatality rate and prevent the spread of diseases like HIV-AIDS. Opponents argue that safe havens may encourage illegal drug use and re-direct funding from traditional treatment centers.
In September of 2016, US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released a proposal that would create an oversight panel that would protect U.S. consumers from large price hikes on long-available, lifesaving drugs. The proposal was in response to recent steep price increases on drugs including the AIDS drug Daraprim and the EpiPen. Proponents of drug price regulation argue that drug makers raise prices to benefit the value of their stock and invest little of their profits in the development and research of new drugs. Opponents of regulation argue that consumers rely on drug companies to develop new drugs and limiting prices will prevent new lifesaving drugs from being developed. Clinton's campaign cited Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC's raising the price of its AIDS drug Daraprim (pyrimethamine) and Mylan NV’s repeated steep price increases on EpiPen for severe allergy sufferers as “troubling” examples of price hikes that have attracted bipartisan congressional scrutiny.
In an effort to end the COVID19 pandemic many governments imposed vaccine mandates on people who wish to enter private businesses. Politicians who supported the mandates argued that it would stop the spread of CV19 and encourage people to get vaccinated against it. Opponents argue that vaccination status is private health information and people should not be forced to share it. Proponents argue that unvaccinated individuals are responsible for spreading CV19 and prolonging the pandemic.
In 2019 the Trump administration proposed shifting billions of dollars from government-run veterans’ hospitals to private health care providers. The guidelines would make it easier for veterans to receive care in privately run hospitals and have the government pay for it. Veterans would also be allowed access to a system of proposed walk-in clinics, which would serve as a bridge between V.A. emergency rooms and private providers. Proponents argue that privatization is necessary because Veterans’ hospitals, which treat seven million patients annually, have struggled to see patients on time in recent years, hit by a double crush of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and aging Vietnam veterans. Opponents argue that switching vast numbers of veterans to private hospitals would strain care in the private sector and that costs for taxpayers could skyrocket. In addition, they say it could threaten the future of traditional veterans’ hospitals, some of which are already under review for consolidation or closing.
The government is currently prohibited by law from negotiating drug prices for Medicare. Medicare Part D is a federal government program which subsidizes the costs of prescriptions drugs for people enrolled in Medicare. Since it was approved by Congress in 2003 39 million Americans have enrolled in the program which now costs more than $80 billion per year. Opponents of Medicare Part D argue that it should be changed to allow the federal government to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies. They point out that the Veterans Affairs administration is allowed to negotiate prices and pays 40-58% less for drugs than Medicare does. Analysts estimate that the government would save up to $16 billion a year if they were permitted to negotiate drug prices. Proponents of Medicare D argue that the government should not interfere with prices set by private drug makers who use profits for the development and research of new drugs.
In February 2017, Congressional Republicans issued a proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The proposed plan would use tax credits to finance individual insurance purchases and cut federal payments to states which have been used to expand Medicaid. Conservatives who oppose the ACA argue that the plan did not go far enough in removing the government’s role in health insurance. They demanded that the new plan should remove the ACA requirement that health insurers could not discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions. Under the ACA health insurers cannot deny coverage or charge higher premiums to individuals who have pre-existing conditions. Opponents argue that the requirement will raise costs for insurers and cause them to drop out of the ACA healthcare exchange. Proponents argue that it is immoral to ban people with pre-existing conditions from getting health insurance.
In July 2022 the federal government approved a $21 billion funding package for mental-health and substance-use disorders. The spending package was in response to a jump in substance abuse and a suicide rate that increased 33% from 1999 through 2017, making it the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S, according to the most recent federal data.
“Defund the police” is a slogan that supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources.