Episode 35: Party Whips

Episode 35: Party Whips

With more than 500 members of Congress, parties have to coordinate members and keep them on the same page. Enter: party whips. But what do they actually do? Several of you asked us to find out. We asked Larry Evans, the Newton Family Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary to help us out.

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 34: Separation of Powers

Episode 34: Separation of Powers

In this episode we untangle two terms that are closely related, but not the same: Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances. The framers envisioned a government structure that would consist of three separate branches, each with their own power, in order to avoid having one person or one branch from having full control of the country. University of Minnesota Law Professor Heidi Kitrosser joins us to explain how the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches are separated and once separated, how they ensure those powers are kept in check.

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 33: Declaring War

Episode 33: Declaring War

War, what is it good for? For a country that’s spent a significant amount of its history engaged in conflict, the United States has only officially declared war 11 times – most recently in WWII. So what about all the other conflicts we’ve entered into as a nation? And how do we decide to set off into battle anyway? To learn more about how the US declares war, we’re speaking with Albin Kowalewski, Historical Publications Specialist for the US House of Representatives. 

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 32: Budget Basics

Episode 32: Budget Basics

We've received a LOT of questions about how the budget process works and honestly, we had a lot of our own! It should come as no surprise that the budget process of the United States government is complex and difficult to explain in less than 15 minutes. We decided to cover some of the terminology that you hear when the budget is discussed to give us all a good foundation. Chances are you'll have more questions when you finish listening this week, but hopefully you'll have a better idea of what's supposed to happen.

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 31: How a Bill Becomes a Law

Episode 31: How a Bill Becomes a Law

Even if you slept through most of your Government classes in High School, there's a good chance you have a vague recollection of how a bill becomes a law thanks to Schoolhouse Rock! The series designed to teach kids about grammar, science, math, civics, and more, got its start in the mid 70s. In 1976, "I'm Just a Bill", introduced viewers to the inner workings of government legislation. We decided to give this topic a podcast update and asked award winning Social Studies teacher, Dave Alcox, to take us back to class and explain how a bill becomes a law. 

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 30: National Debt & The Deficit

Episode 30: National Debt & The Deficit

The National Debt and The Deficit: two terms that are often used interchangeably, but take on different meanings when it comes to the government. Louise Sheiner is a Policy Director for The Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution and she helped guide us through the differences between the debt and the deficit, and what it means for a country to carry debt.

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 29: Political Speechwriting

Episode 29: Political Speechwriting

We do our best to answer your questions about how American democracy works, but many of you have also told us you like to get the insider's view from people who work, or have worked in government. We asked Sarada Peri, former senior presidential speech writer for Barack Obama, about the art of political speech writing.

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 28: Congressional Caucuses

Episode 28: Congressional Caucuses

We've received multiple questions about Congressional Caucuses, what are they, how are they formed, and what is their purpose? We asked Colleen Shogun, Deputy Director of Outreach at the Library of Congress to help us understand the 800 Congressional Caucuses, from the Authors Caucus to the Civility Caucus.

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 27: How a Case Gets to the Supreme Court

Episode 27: How a Case Gets to the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of the United States hear about 80 cases each year, but how do lower court cases make their way to the highest court in the land, and how do they decide which ones to hear? We asked Behzad Mirhashem, Assistant Professor of Law at University of New Hampshire School of Law to help walk us through the process. 

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 26: The Cabinet

Episode 26: The Cabinet

Kristen in California asked: "How exactly does the cabinet work? How much control do the secretaries have? And are they loyal to the president or the department." We asked Dean Spiliotes, Civics Scholar at Southern New Hampshire University to help guide us through the history and inner workings of a president's cabinet. 

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 25: Term Limits

Episode 25: Term Limits

Why are there no term limits on Congress, how long has it been that way, and what would it take to actually change how long someone can serve? In this episode we look into the long history of term limits for government officials from the President to the Vice President to Congress. #civics101pod

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 24: The IRS

Episode 24: The IRS

When Congress imposed the first personal income tax on Americans in 1861, nothing happened – because there was no agency to collect it! The following year saw the creation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, or as you know it today, the Internal Revenue Service. Today, the IRS is a massive federal bureaucracy charged with collecting taxes, doling out credits, and capturing and jailing tax cheats.  On this episode, Joe Thorndike, Director of the Tax History Project, walks us through the history and role of the IRS. 

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 23: Emoluments

Episode 23: Emoluments

One of our listeners sent in a question asking about “the ethics clause”, which forbids presidents from receiving foreign gifts. As it turns out, there isn’t something in the constitution with exactly that title – but there is something called the “Emoluments Clause”, where the founders laid out some rules aimed at combating corruption. In this episode, we look at the language of the Emoluments Clause, and how the founders might have envisioned it working today.

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 22: Congressional Investigations

Episode 22: Congressional Investigations

The Army-McCarthy hearings, Watergate, the Iran-Contra affair, the Select Committee on Benghazi, the Russian hacking probe.  Congressional investigations are a staple of American politics, but how do they work? When is it Congress' job to investigate an issue? And what the heck is the difference between a probe and an investigation, anyway? Professor of Government and Policy Linda Fowler guides us through the complicated world of congressional investigations.

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 21: The Congressional Budget Office

Episode 21: The Congressional Budget Office

When Republicans first submitted their alternative to the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle anxiously awaited the release of the Congressional Budget Office's analysis—or "score"—for the bill. Determining the long and short-term cost for a specific piece of legislation is a complicated task, so we asked the founding director of the CBO, Alice Rivlin, to help explain the history of the office and how it manages to predict the outcome of a bill when there are so many moving parts. 

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 20: The Electoral College

Episode 20: The Electoral College

We've received a lot of questions about The Electoral College from listeners, from how it works, to why it was set up, and whether or not it can it be changed or removed. So we asked Ron Elving from NPR to explain the basics of The Electoral College, from its formation to its current state. 

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 19: Senate Rules

Episode 19: Senate Rules

When Senator Mitch McConnell barred Senator Elizabeth Warren from speaking during the debate over Jeff Session’s nomination for Attorney General, he invoked Rule XIX. It's safe to say many people suddenly realized how little they knew about the rules of the Senate. There are in fact 44 standing rules of the US Senate, but what are they? Where do they come from? And who can Presiding Officers turn to when they have a question? Alan Frumin spent 35 years in the Office of the Senate Parliamentarian and he gave us a primer.  

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 18: Office of Scheduling & Advance

Episode 18: Office of Scheduling & Advance

If managing your personal appointment calendar is a struggle, imagine what it must be like for the President of the United States? From daily meetings, to promoting policies in speeches across the country, to elaborate trips abroad, the Office of Scheduling and Advance at the White House makes sure that the president is in the right place at the right time. We wanted to know how the office works day to day and what their responsibilities are so we asked former Director Alyssa Mastromonaco to give us an inside look.

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 17: Veto

Episode 17: Veto

The presidential veto is one of the cornerstones of the system of constitutional checks and balances the framers used to prevent the misuse or abuse of power within any branch of government. How has the veto been used historically and more recently?  In this episode we cover the basics of the veto.

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Episode 16: Gerrymandering

Episode 16: Gerrymandering

Over the years, gerrymandering has become synonymous with weirdly-shaped maps of electoral districts, nefarious political maneuvering, and partisanship. But when did gerrymandering become the norm? Is it always used for political gain? And is there any way to stop it from happening? Our latest episode dives into the complicated history of the gerrymander.  

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This podcast is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.