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The Politics of Policy Change

Welfare, Medicare, and Social Security Reform in the United States

Daniel Béland; Alex Waddan

Publication Year: 2012

For generations, debating the expansion or contraction of the American welfare state has produced some of the nation's most heated legislative battles. Attempting social policy reform is both risky and complicated, especially when it involves dealing with powerful vested interests, sharp ideological disagreements, and a nervous public.

The Politics of Policy Change compares and contrasts recent developments in three major federal policy areas in the United States: welfare, Medicare, and Social Security. Daniel Béland and Alex Waddan argue that we should pay close attention to the role of ideas when explaining the motivations for, and obstacles to, policy change.

This insightful book concentrates on three cases of social policy reform (or attempted reform) that took place during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Béland and Waddan further employ their framework to help explain the meaning of the 2010 health insurance reform and other developments that have taken place during the Obama presidency. The result is a book that will improve our understanding of the politics of policy change in contemporary federal politics.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

In March 2010 President Barack Obama signed the most comprehensive health care reform in the United States since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid forty-five years earlier. In order to increase coverage to the uninsured and control rising health care costs, among other things, this reform brings comprehensive change to some aspects of America’s complex public–private health insurance system ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-23

Since the New Deal, social policy reform has remained a key and controversial aspect of federal politics. The sheer scope of the major federal programs created since the 1930s makes it inevitable that policymakers will revisit these programs because they are so central to American social and economic life. In ...

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Chapter One: Welfare Reform, 1996

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pp. 24-73

In August 1996 President Bill Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). This legislation ended the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) welfare entitlement program for poor, single-parent families and replaced it with a new conditional benefit named Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). As suggested by ...

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Chapter Two: Medicare Reform, 2003

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pp. 74-124

After Social Security, Medicare is the second-most expensive public social policy program in the United States. In 2006 Social Security paid out $548.5 billion in benefits, amounting to 20.65 percent of federal expenditures, whereas Medicare spending was $329.9 billion, accounting for 12.4 percent of federal expenditures (US Census Bureau 2009a). Like Social Security, Medicare ...

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Chapter Three: The Failed Attempt at Social Security Privatization, 2005

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pp. 125-166

Social Security is the largest and one of the most popular social programs in the United States. Expanded during the postwar era, the program faced significant short-term fiscal challenges from the mid-1970s to the enactment of the 1983 amendments to the Social Security Act. Although the 1983 reform helped improve the program’s fiscal situation, demographic challenges lie ahead as the ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 167-178

This book has explored the politics of policy change in the federal welfare state through the analysis of three major policy episodes and, where relevant, subsequent developments: the 1996 welfare reform, the 2003 Medicare reform, and the 2005 push for Social Security privatization. The analysis presented of these three cases illustrates the main argument of this book, which is that paying ...

References

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pp. 179-212

Index

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pp. 213-223


E-ISBN-13: 9781589018891
E-ISBN-10: 1589018893
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589018846
Print-ISBN-10: 1589018842

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: American Governance and Public Policy series
Series Editor Byline: Gerard W. Boychuk, Karen Mossberger, and Mark C. Rom, series editors

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Social policy.
  • Public welfare -- United States.
  • Medicare.
  • Social security -- United States.
  • United States -- Politics and government.
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