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Briefs

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Taxes

To fund the services it provides, the United States government derives revenue from individuals and businesses by taxing income, purchases, and property, in addition to a variety of taxes paid on specific goods or on various activities. However, some think the current tax code undermines fairness, economic growth, and transparency. Do the recent changes to the tax code go far enough to better serve these goals? What else should be done?

State Specific Information: Illinois Wisconsin
Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The Business Series

Terror Groups and Rogue States

Terror groups and rogue states all represent distinct threats to U.S. national security and the safety of our allies. Read on for a deep dive into prominent terror groups and rogue states, their affects locally and globally, and responses from the U.S.

Part of the Conversation Series: The World View Series

Texas: Civic Engagement, Political Engagement and the State of the State

The Active Voter Guide

Your voice and your vote matter. Our elections depend upon participation by the electorate, including you. There are many ways to educate yourself and others and engage in the political process. This resource guide walks you through the components of being an active voter or volunteer: how to register, research a candidate, develop an assessment scorecard, and get involved by becoming a volunteer.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series

The Affordable Care Act

This deep dive focuses on the Affordable Care Act, its impact on healthcare, and what's next. It can be used along with our Healthcare Reform Brief or as stand-alone reading material.

Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The 2022 Series

The Creative Economy

Throughout history, the arts have been indicative of beauty, human connectedness, prosperity, creativity, and freedom of expression. By stimulating the senses, emotions, and thoughts, arts can incorporate beauty into an environment, give communities a stronger sense of identity, and challenge the status quo. Given all these options, the creativity and collaboration of the arts can also be woven into the free market economy to create work and wealth. In this so-called creative economy, how do creators, public and private support networks, distributors, and buyers interact? What roles do individuals, private actors and institutions, and government play?

Part of the Conversation Series: The Business Series

The Decennial Census

Have you ever considered where funding for emergency response services come from? Or how hospital locations are determined? Data from the decennial census can play a part in both. Why does the nation need to make this count every ten years? What other information does the Census tell us? How does it affect individuals, communities, businesses, and government?

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series

The Electoral College

The U.S. Constitution clearly specifies that the President by elected by the Electoral College. How exactly does this system work? Why was it originally put in place, and why in recent years has it been at the center of debates on election reform?

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series

The Executive Branch

The executive branch of the U.S. carries out and enforces laws. Some roles, namely the President and Vice President, are well known. Most Americans are less familiar with the responsibilities of other entities, from the Cabinet’s fifteen executive department heads to the expansive number of federal agencies known by an alphabet soup of acronyms. This brief is designed to explain the structure, roles, and responsibilities of the executive branch.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series The Foundational Series

The Federal Debt

High federal deficits and debts emerged in the United States during the Great Depression and World War II. Since the Great Recession, though, a more troubling phenomenon has emerged: persistent deficits even when the country is at peace and is enjoying economic growth, leading to a constantly expanding national debt. Why are these annual deficits occurring year after year? What are the key contributing factors? If there is a way for our nation to reign in this out-of-control spending, what should be done and who will it affect?

State Specific Information: Illinois
Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The Foundational Series

The Judicial Branch

The U.S. judicial branch decides the constitutionality of laws and resolves disputes regarding the law. Most Americans are aware of the U.S. Supreme Court, but not many are familiar with other parts of the judicial branch at the federal and state levels. This Policy Brief is designed to explain the structure, role, and responsibilities of this vitally important branch of government.

Deep Dives: Judicial Selection
Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series

Trade and Tariffs

While negotiations and tariffs directed at China have taken center stage, the U.S. has also levied tariffs against the EU and has renegotiated trade deals with Canada and Mexico. Why? How exactly do tariffs work? And what does all this mean for free trade?

Part of the Conversation Series: The Business Series