Why do policymakers select certain problems for attention and ignore others? Why do some policy ideas fail and other succeed? In addition to the President, Congress and Supreme Court what other institutions are influential in shaping public policies? How do policymakers design and implement policies? How do those policies ultimately influence the nation? Providing answers to these and other questions are the focus of this book. The practice of politics and policymaking is complicated, involving thousands of people in government institutions and the private sector. Although each public law and public policy has a unique history, Politics and Public Policy is designed to help students understand the larger patterns of the policy making process.
Social scientist Harold Lasswell once defined politics as “who gets what, when, how.”1 By that definition, many private sector decisions are as political as those made by government officials. When an automobile company shuts down an assembly plant, the consequences for workers, their families, and the local community can be devastating. When a coal-fired power plant discharges poisonous chemicals into the atmosphere, the public health effects may be serious. When a hospital decides to invest in expensive lifesaving equipment, such as emergency helicopters, it may save many lives but may also raise hospital prices. When a business chooses to donate 5 percent of its pretax profits to charity, numerous nonprofit organizations may benefit, but the government may collect less tax money. ...