Spring for 2017-2018
“Entitlements” are at the heart of ongoing debate about our nation’s fiscal future and our commitment and approach to social welfare. This course examines the policy and politics of "entitlements"—engaging students in debates regarding how best to manage the role of the federal government in spreading risk and distributing resources. We will look not only at direct spending programs traditionally viewed as “entitlements” (particularly, Social Security, Medicare, SNAP, public education and others) but also at “tax expenditures” that similarly establish budgetary commitments and individual “rights” to benefits. For this broader scope of entitlements, we will explore issues such as income redistribution, intergenerational equity, means-testing vs. universality, compulsory participation vs. individual choice, individual vs. social responsibility, and state vs. federal authority that are common to entitlement programs. The course will examine these issues (both within and across programs) through consideration of technical options for policy design and broad concepts of social justice.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
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