Choose ONE topic and write a 5 page memorandum:
1. Outline a program for a major new investment in infrastructure on the scale of the Eisenhower interstate highway program and set out a strategic case for either its political. President Trump previously called for a trillion-dollar investment, but Republicans in Congress resisted on the grounds that the idea involves more “big spending,” with no clear way to pay for it. And many Democrats are skeptical of Trump’s tendency to emphasize tax breaks for private investors who build profit-making infrastructure like toll-roads and bridges; Democrats want the investment focused on public goods across the board ranging from repairing roads and bridges to mass transit. With a tumultuous legislative year behind us, and midterms approaching, should Trump try to consolidate enough Republican support to push his infrastructure vision? Can GOP members afford to break with Trump—or is there a greater risk of offending their own Tea Party-like base? From a Democratic perspective, what about the alternative of an infrastructure bank, first advanced by former Senators John Kerry and Kay Bailey Hutchison. What arguments should either side make against the other’s proposals and for their own? How will this play out politically—or does it matter? Remember that critical distressed areas that provided the margin for Trump in 2016 would benefit particularly from major infrastructure investment. Will they stick with Trump no matter what he does here? And can Democrats win back votes in such areas with their infrastructure plan?
2. Analyze how New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has achieved his public policy successes. Why did he prevail on so many big issues while his predecessor as a self-proclaimed reformer, Eliot Spitzer, fell short? Examine the impact of his victories on the budget, marriage equality, and gun legislation on different constituencies and his potential run for a third term in 2018. His tacit alliance with State Senate Republicans alienated a portion of Democratic base, and reduced his margin of victory in the last election. Why was he so intent on continuing that alliance? He short-circuited an investigation into public corruption in a way that arguably enabled the passage of much of his agenda. What should and can he do now on the corruption issue? How can he advance, his national political ambitions and run against an incumbent Republican President in 2020?
3. Write a memo to Jared Kusher, the President’s designated point person on the issue recommending how to deal with the Middle-East peace process. Should the Trump Administration hold to the position of past presidents, who envisioned agreed upon land swaps as the basis for a two s-ate solution? How can this Administration deal with settlement expansion and the calls from some in Israel to abandon the two-state idea, and the future of Jerusalem which the President has now recognized as Israel’s capital? Should the Administration move the U.S. Embassy or slow walk the move? Take account of domestic political pressures, how they limit the range of choices, and how he Trump and Kushner can act to pull off the art of this deal.
4. Your strategy memo to Senator Dianne Feinstein or to State Senator Kevin De Leon should recommend how each can deploy past and current records to advance her or his prospect in the June Primary and if they finish first and second then, in November election. For example, should Sen. Feinstein emphasize her experience and clout? Should she push her position favoring gun control, even though no legislation is likely to pass? (In this context, you could consider the events that led to becoming Mayor of San Francisco. Do they validate her commitment?) What other issues, from her role in the Russian investigation to her fight on women issues, should she push hard. (And how will she defend herself against De Leon’s criticisms, that she’s “soft” on Trump and she’s been around too long, on implicit criticism of her age.) Alternatively, can De Leon position himself as a Sanders-like candidate more progressive and more adamantly opposed to Trump and Feinstein. Should he run on his call for, and attempt to enact at the state level, single payer health insurance? How should he counter the Feinstein campaign’s probable attack that he is a conventional politician who’s term limited and has experienced a conversion of convenience? And how can immigration and fact the he’s Latino be harnessed to advance his chances?
5. Write a memo to Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and House Leader Nancy Pelosi recommending a strategy to respond to Trump Administration restrictions on refugees and immigration from Muslim nations. How can the strategy be made politically viable, not just with Democratic voters, but with the broader public which may favor the restrictions?
6. Write a memo to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is apparently considering a run for President. No candidate has ever moved directly from City Hall to the White House. Can he harness his record to pass a threshold of acceptability with Democratic primary voters – and if he is the nominee with the general electorate in November. What should his overall message be? How does his youth factor into it? How much does his ethnicity matter—and how strongly should he respond to Trump’s policy on “Sanctuary Cities.” Finally, the bottom line: explain why he should or should not choose to run in 2020.
7. Propose a ballot initiative for 2018 in California that will enhance either Democratic or Republican priorities in this decidedly blue state. Outline the message(s) that could build support for the initiative—and the responses to likely attacks. And who will pay for the campaign?
8. Advise Democratic leaders on future proposals for gun safety legislation. Nothing of substance (other than a reduction of restrictions, i.e. conceded carry across state lines) is likely to pass in this Congress as President Trump rolls back Obama executive orders on guns. Should Democrats push legislation anyway—and what should it call for? Will this help or hurt Democratic prospects in 2018? In any event, would the Democratic base, especially in primaries, allow potential nominees to ignore the issue? Is the best alternative action at the state and local level such as California’s restriction on large ammunition clips? How effective is that—as policy or as politics? –Finally, we live in a fast-moving political environment where new events constantly alter the political landscape. The 2017 Alabama Senate special election would have been an ideal topic for a memo – to either Republican or Democratic leadership – if it were occurring now. So you are not only permitted but encouraged to come up with your own topic for a policy memo; again just check for approval from Professor Shrum or Kevin Baron.