Content Tagged: national security

Paris Attacks and National Security

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November 18, 2015

With the terrorist attacks in Paris still looming over us, many state governors have stated that they will not allow Syrian refugees to enter their state.  At the same time, the age-old dilemma of balancing liberty with security has arisen.

There are two great opportunities to tie current issues of national security to the UFR curriculum:  Lesson 1.3 (Economics of National Security), and/or Lesson 2.3 (National Security goals, the Federal Budget, and the National Debt).  You could also tie this to issues of Military Spending (Lesson 5.3, Mathematics).




National Security and the Federal Budget – ISIS and the New Terrorism

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August 23, 2014

UFR Lesson 2.3 in the Civics portion of the curriculum looks at National Security Goals, the Federal Budget and the National Debt.  I thought it was a great opening to a lesson on the current situation in the Middle East and ISIS.  There are  a TON of political cartoons about ISIS and the beheading of the US journalist, James Foley.  Using political cartoons is a great way to show students differing points of view.

The political cartoons included in this blog are selected as tools to teach about public policy issues. Their inclusion does not in any way constitute an endorsement by Teachers College, Columbia University, of their point of view.

Political cartoons can be a powerful way to teach and talk about public policy issues in the classroom. They engaging, often funny, and they teach very complex ideas in a quick and intuitive way. We are so convinced of the value of political cartoons that, in addition to including them in many of our blogs, we feature posts that are all cartoons.

Using cartoons presents an opportunity to teach students media literacy, including the ability to detect point of view or bias. As a sequence, we strongly encourage students to study the cartoon carefully, analyze the specific context of the cartoon, and determine the cartoonist’s point of view. See the blog post of October 8, 2013 for a guide to using the political cartoons we have selected. The Library of Congress also has a a very useful Cartoon Analysis Guide.

152653 600 ISIS Coexist cartoons

Rick McKee, 2014

152591 600 ISIS Execution cartoons

Nate Beeler, 2014

152643 600 Iraq Lesson Not Learned cartoons

Pat Bagley, 2014

152593 600 World Falling Apart cartoons

Steve Sack, 2014

152620 600 Still cartoons

Mark Streeter, 2014



President Obama’s 2013 Budget Proposal

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February 13, 2012

President Obama sent his budget proposal for 2013 to Congress today. According to Chris Moody’s Yahoo News article, in the outlined plan, Obama expresses the need to raise tax rates on the wealthy, increase funds for job training and infrastructure, and cut unnecessary spending on government programs. If approved, the federal deficit could decrease by $4 trillion over the next ten years, yet leave the federal government with a $901 billion shortfall at the conclusion of 2013.

The passing of the Budget Control Act last August, which eliminated discretionary spending by $900 billion over the next ten years, caused President Obama and the White House to make cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Moody states that the plan reduces the amount of funding for the aforementioned programs by $360 billion. Republicans have expressed their disapproval of the proposed budget because they believe it does not do enough to lower the federal deficit and does not justify the need to raise taxes. The Republicans, according to Moody, “also knocked Obama for submitting a budget that does not cut the federal deficit in half by the end of the president’s first term, a promise Obama made in February 2009.”

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Ron Paul both criticized Obama’s proposal. From the article:

“The President has failed to offer a single serious idea to save Social Security and is the only president in modern history to cut Medicare benefits for seniors,” Romney said in a statement in which his campaign also referred to the budget as “an insult to the American taxpayer.”


“I believe we can save Social Security and Medicare with a few commonsense reforms, and,” Romney added, “unlike President Obama — I’m not afraid to put them on the table.”

“When President Obama talks about spending ‘cuts’ it’s always some plan that will supposedly unfold over a decade and that the next president or Congress can change at whim,” Paul’s campaign said in a statement on its website. “In other words, cuts never happen. But budget deficits, as evidenced above, happen every year. And they will continue to happen every year. President Paul would offer $1 trillion cuts in the first year.”


Teachers could use this article as a class warm-up or “Do Now” to talk about the federal budget. Teachers could then use the provided link to read President Obama’s remarks on the budget and how he presented them to the American public. The White House blog has the digital edition of the budget at the bottom of the webpage (257 pg. document). Students could evaluate some of President Obama’s proposals and address these questions: What might be some issues of debate between Republicans and Democrats? What proposals will need modification for support from both sides? How does the proposal further address the federal deficit? How might the budget influence domestic policies like Social Security, Medicare, and national security? Upon discussing these questions, students should have a stronger understanding of how the federal budget impacts the federal deficit and the types of discussions that occur between the two major political parties involving the appropriation of governmental funding and taxation.


US Debt and National Security

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February 26, 2010

In a recent BusinessWeek blog, Peter Green reported on Hilary Clinton’s argument that the US budget deficit and debt could be seen as a threat to national security.  In testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and related programs, Clinton argued that the debt be addressed “as a matter of national security, not only as a matter of economics”.

The relationship between the debt and national security is a topic that teachers may not consider when discussing fiscal policy with their students.  However, this article presents an interesting point of view about the role debt plays in international relations.

Through journal writings or class discussions, students should respond to Clinton’s assertion that 10 years ago, the US was “on the way to paying down the debt”.  What events have happened over the last ten years that may have changed our priorities?  What decisions were made during those years concerning the deficit and the debt?  Were other choices available?  How might things have turned out differently if other choices had been made?

Through these questions, students will begin to realize that decisions about the deficit and debt have long term consequences – some good and some bad.  From this point, the class can discuss the pros and cons of those decisions and project the effects of the current budget deliberations on the national debt.