The Executive Branch and Public Policy

Question 1:  Economists differ in their ideas about using government spending to stimulate the economy. Some economists follow British political-economist John Maynard Keynes in advocating increased government expenditure to stimulate the economy when it is in recession. In their view, the federal deficit will decline when the economy improves. Others favor allowing market forces to restore equilibrium when the economy is in recession. They believe that the deficit stifles economic growth and prosperity.

You can learn the policy preferences of a city, county, state, other government agency, or a non-profit organization by analyzing its budget. The budget is a plan for allocating the resources required to provide specific services and address strategic priorities.

For this Discussion, review this week’s Learning Resources and focus on the implications of the federal deficit on a public and non-profit organization. Then, select a position either for or against a balanced federal budget. Consider whether the gap needs to be closed or whether there are legitimate reasons for borrowing.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 a description of your position on a balanced national budget. Justify your position for or against a balanced national budget by explaining the gains and losses associated with your position.

Be sure to support your posting and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

  • Mikesell, J. L. (2014). Fiscal administration: Analysis and applications for the public sector (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.
    • Chapter 3, “Federal Budget Structures and Institutions” (pp. 90–143)
    • Chapter 4, “State and Local Budgets” (pp. 152–173)
    • Chapter 5, “Budget Methods and Practices” (pp. 178–218)
    • Chapter 6, “Budget Classifications, Systems, and Reform: Trying to Make Better Choices” (pp. 240–292)
  • Government Finance Officers Association. (2014). Distinguished Budget Presentation Award Program (Budget Awards Program). Retrieved from

Optional Resources

Question 2:  

You have studied how the legislative and judicial branches of government have a wide variety of checks that they can utilize to constrain the power of the president.

However, the framers of the U.S. Constitution also invested within the presidency a wide arsenal of tools. These tools allow the executive branch to effectively block the policymaking powers of other branches of government. As the Learning Resources indicate, even the threat of a veto from the White House is often enough to greatly influence discussions, compromises, and working sessions regarding legislation for one simple reason: It is extremely difficult for the Congress to muster a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto. Therefore, the very threat of such a veto is often enough to motivate lawmakers to change course or to integrate important considerations of the president.

While there are many checks and balances between the different branches of the federal government, the extent to which they are used depends upon the individuals who occupy offices in Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Oval Office.

Consider how the powers and constraints of the executive branch may influence the policymaking ability of the president. Think about how the powers of the presidency might serve as a check on the policymaking activities of the legislative and judicial branches of government.

The Executive Branch, best exemplified in the person of the president, saw its power grow considerably in the 20th century. Consider the scope of those powers and the degree to which the other two branches of government have constrained the reach of the Executive Branch in recent years.

Select one constraint and one power of the executive branch (presidency). Then analyze the impact of each on the policymaking powers of the legislative and judicial branches.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 an explanation of one constraint on the policymaking powers of the presidency. Then explain one power that allows the executive branch to serve as a check on the policymaking powers of the legislative and judicial branches. Provide and analyze an example of a recent policy decision that illustrates either a constraint on the power of the executive branch or a check on the powers of the other branches. For non-U.S. students, you may explore constraints on the policymaking powers of your country’s executive branch (e.g., prime minister, president, premier).


  • Anderson, J. E. (2015). Public policymaking: An introduction (8th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
    • Chapter 2, “The Policy-Makers and Their Environment” (pp. 41–60)
    • Chapter 4, “Policy Adoption” (pp. 161–179)
  • Bettelheim, A. (2002). Presidential power. CQ Researcher, 12, 945–968.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • Jacobson, G. C. (2011). Legislative success and political failure: The public’s reaction to Barack Obama’s early presidency. Presidential Studies Quarterly41(2), 220–243. 
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • The American Presidency Project. (2014). Executive orders. Retrieved from


  • Laureate Education (Producer). (2014). Legislative process [Interactive media]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Each Question has to to 300-500 words APA style