Public Policy in American Politics: What’s on the Horizon for the US

The public policy process is an integral part of the American political system. This blog post will explore public policy in American politics, and what it means for the public. 

Understanding this concept is key to understanding politics, social policies, fiscal and monetary policies, welfare and income policies, regulatory policies, foreign policy dynamics – and how they all work together to make up a democratic society.

What is Public Policy in American Politics?

Public Policies in American Politics
Public Policies in American Politics
  • Public Policy is a government’s response to an issue that arises in society, such as pollution or poverty. Social Welfare Policies are programs created by governments’ efforts to protect citizens from undesirable conditions like hunger or homelessness (Fisher). The public sector – which consists of all levels of public administration; federal, state/provincial, local municipal) strives to influence public policy for good at each level it can.


  • Public Policy refers to both national public policies – those created by governmental institutions at federal levels such as Congress or those made through Executive Orders issued by the President – as well as local public policies which may be enacted by state legislatures (such-like school curricula), city councils (or public transit systems, public housing programs), or county boards of supervisors.


  • Public policy is not the same as public administration, public finance or public management. Public Policy can be studied in relation to those other disciplines but it remains a separate field unto itself because its focus centers on how the government should respond to societal needs and what specific goals should govern public policies created by national legislatures (or executive orders). 


In the United States, they may be designed around providing public resources for healthcare or education as well as fostering equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or physical abilities. 

These types of policy are called “social” policies because they deal with matters that affect people’s lives outside of their public interactions with the state. Whereas public policy refers to the system of laws and regulations that are created by public officials, politics refers to any act or event with an impact on public life. These two words can be used interchangeably when talking about politics in America.

In short, there are five major types of public policies in America: 

  • Social Policy, 
  • Fiscal & Monetary Policy,  
  • Welfare & Income Policy, 
  • Regulatory Policy, 
  • Foreign Policy.

What is Social Policy in American Politics and Their Realistic Examples?

American social policy is made up of those policies that govern how different aspects of society should work together for the common good. Examples include welfare programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Social Security which provide basic necessities such as food stamps, cash assistance, healthcare coverage and other benefits for Americans who are in need.

What are public policies focused on at the moment?

There is an increased push for public policies that allow individuals with disabilities, minority groups or those who might otherwise not have access to participate in society on equal terms with other members of the community. 

This includes people working from home and/or online as well as ensuring they can provide their skills and knowledge without discrimination so they’re recognized by a wider range of industries.


Realistic Examples of Social Policy in the US:

  • “The Affordable Care Act”: This legislation was signed into law by President Obama in 2010 and aimed at providing affordable health care for more people. It was a public policy that impacted all Americans and is still being disputed as it relates to its effectiveness.”
  • “The Clean Air Act”: The law regulates air pollution by emissions from cars, power plants, factories, etc. In 1963 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in order to enforce this public policy. 

What is Fiscal & Monetary Policy in American Politics and Their Realistic Examples?

This public policy deals with taxation rates, public spending and the money supply. The central bank, in America this is currently called the Federal Reserve Bank of America (FRA), takes a lot of these public policies into account when determining how much control to exert over interest rates.

Federal fiscal policies include those things done by Congress and the president to manage public debt and public expenditures. 

The two main tools that policymakers have when it comes to fiscal policy at the federal level are taxes (both individual income tax rates and payroll tax rates) and spending on public goods.

This is why debates over these things tend to take center stage every time there’s an election cycle because politicians want their constituents’ votes.

Monetary Policy refers not only to what happens with interest rates set by financial institutions, but also how much liquidity those banks provide through loans and other measures of credit. 

In the United States, public policymakers can use monetary policies to reduce inflation or increase economic growth by adjusting interest rates – this is what many people refer to as “tightening” money because that will lead banks to be more careful with their lending practices in order not to overdo it on risks. 

But they can also make changes such as decreasing interest rates when there’s a recession so that consumers spend more freely on goods and services, which stimulates demand for products and helps bring an economy out of its slump.

Realistic Examples of Fiscal & Monetary Policy in the US:

Fiscal Policy refers to changes made within government budgets or tax rates while monetary policy deals with controlling interest rates of banks through the central bank like the Federal Reserve Board (Krugman). 

There are numerous examples of American monetary public policies due to its enormous public debt. One of the most prominent examples is its fiscal policy, which seeks to balance public spending with revenue from taxes and other sources such as tariffs on imports or exports..

America’s public finances are complicated and we must not only consider what public policy has done for us but also how public finance impacts our day-to-day lives. Moreover, we have:


  • “The Budget Act of 1974″: This public policy was implemented to reduce the size and scope of government in an effort to balance public expenditure with tax revenue. It led to a significant cutback for domestic programs like education, environmental protection, housing assistance- among others.”
  • “Operation Twist:” The Federal Reserve Board began this public policy in 1961 as a means to combat unemployment rates by lowering long term interest rates while raising short term interest rates. 
  • Realistic examples of public finance include things like the recent tax reform bill (2017) that is expected to save over $140 billion in public financing through 2020.


There are public policies in place for regulating the economy, which is one of many public policy areas that Americans take a keen interest in. For instance The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act has been an ongoing issue for American politics and there have also been discussions regarding the laws’ effectiveness on economic regulation.

What is Welfare & Income Policy in American Politics and Their Realistic Examples?

Welfare, public assistance, and social welfare programs are all terms that refer to the government’s efforts in providing public services like food stamps or housing assistance for people on public assistance. 

These initiatives have been a mainstay of American society since colonial times when they were first set up by the British Empire as a way to provide relief from poverty – so it can be argued that this is what America does best! 

But today there’s heated debate over whether these kinds of public programs should continue because some say more money needs to go into job creation while others argue that there should not be any cuts made.

Realistic Examples of Welfare & Income Policy in the US:

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP for short which provides food stamps in order to help low-income families purchase healthy groceries at local grocery stores. Other examples include public housing assistance and cash aid such as Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF).
  • “The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): This public policy was enacted in 1975 by President Gerald Ford as an incentive for lower-income workers to increase their earnings, which led to these taxpayers being eligible for tax credits.”
  • “Workforce Investment Act”: The Workforce Investment Act is one example of public welfare legislation passed in 1998 that offers services like job training/placement, financial aid etc. It also provides education opportunities for adults who need additional skills or higher levels of literacy.

One way might be through expanding tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC encourages work among lower-income households while also providing an economic boost to these families at just the right time: when they’re about to make major purchases – namely during back-to-school season or before winter hits and heating costs skyrocket. 

What is Regulatory Policy in American Politics and Their Realistic Examples?

Many public policies, especially in America’s regulatory arena, are made through the judicial system. This means that judges and courts can decide how public policies are enforced.

For example if you work for a company and they discriminate against your religious beliefs then it’ll be up to a judge to determine whether or not that employer violated public policy by doing so! 

There have been many cases where companies like:

  •  Exxon Mobil (who sued over New Jersey’s requirement on renewable energy) won lawsuits with these kinds of arguments. 

In recent years we’ve seen more court battles around environmental regulation as well since Republicans argue that public policy should be catered more to business practices when it comes to public goods like clean water or air.

Realistic Examples of Regulatory Policy in the US:

Regulatory policies can be based on legislation, executive orders or court decisions that set the ground rules which individual Americans must obey in their everyday lives – what they may do with their property or how they interact with others outside of an employer-employee relationship. 

Regulations also include public interest protections against deceptive marketing practices, unfair trade agreements such as:

  •  The North American Free Trade Agreement and dangerous chemicals like asbestos during its 20th century heyday.
  • “The Supreme Court Case Brown v Board”: This public policy dealt with segregation in public schools- specifically whether it was constitutional to segregate black students from white students?” 
  • “International Trade Agreements:” The US has entered into many agreements with other countries over regulatory policies- particularly when they relate to trade. 
  • One such agreement is NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement, signed by Canada, Mexico and the United States back in 1994.”

What is Foreign Policy in American Politics and Their Realistic Examples?

Foreign Policy refers not only to what happens on a macro level but also individual interactions with people from other countries – which is why there are various public policies that govern the way America interacts with foreign nations, such as 

  • Agreements between governments for trade and commerce or international treaties over issues of war and peace (i.e., NATO). 

But public policymakers in this field have had less success than those in others because they’re often dealing with complex social problems abroad rather than ones that can be solved through legislation at home.

Realistic Examples of Foreign Policy in the US:

A realistic example might be when President Trump pulled out from a major nuclear weapons treaty called New Start which was signed by former president Barack Obama back in 2010. Besides:

  • “The Treaty of Paris 1783:” This public policy established an end to the Revolutionary War and recognized independence for the United States. It had many provisions which dealt with how boundaries were drawn and eventual trade relations between Britain and US – specifically what goods could be exported from America to England without tariffs.”
  • “The Iran Deal”: A public policy enacted by President Obama that lifted sanctions against Iran while removing restrictions on their nuclear program in return for limitations on its missile development activities (among others).”

Is There any New Public Policy That Was Taken into Consideration in Recent Years?

New Public Policies For The Future Of American
New Public Policies For The Future Of American

Cryptocurrency is a public policy issue that’s been highlighted recently because of its increasing usage and popularity; but it raises many questions about what the future holds for these digital currencies – namely whether they should be regulated in any way or not. 

Some argue that just like traditional money, cryptocurrency needs to have some sort of oversight so people don’t abuse them (like in cases where people use Bitcoin to buy drugs). 


Public Policy is a big and complicated topic. We hope you found this post to be an interesting read on the basics of public policy in American politics, including social, fiscal, monetary, welfare and income policies as well as regulatory ones.

 If you have any questions about these topics or want more information on specific aspects of them that we didn’t cover here today please let us know!

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