AP US History : 1980–Present

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US History

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Domestic Politics 1980–Present

Reagan's supply-side economics was based on the theory that __________.

Possible Answers:

taxing middle-class Americans at a higher rate would allow the federal government to reduce taxes for those beneath the poverty line.

heavily investing in the infrastructure through federal work programs would stimulate the economy.

increasing taxes on America's wealthiest one-percent of the population would allow the federal government to reduce taxes for those beneath the poverty line.

reducing tariffs on America's largest trading partners would encourage other countries to spend more money on American products.

reducing corporate taxes would cause those corporations to spend the additional money to purchase equipment and hire more employees, creating a trickle-down effect.

Correct answer:

reducing corporate taxes would cause those corporations to spend the additional money to purchase equipment and hire more employees, creating a trickle-down effect.

Explanation:

Reagan believed that by decreasing taxes on corporations, additional money would be available to purchase machinery, hire new employees, open new stores, etc.  The money used for these purposes would cause additional corporations and individuals to receive more money and, in turn, spend it. This was called the "trickle-down effect." Reagan also decreased taxes for individuals using the same theory. 

Example Question #2 : Domestic Politics 1980–Present

"In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow, measured in inches and feet, not miles, but we will progress. It is time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles there will be no compromise." Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address, 1981.

What was a key component of the economic program described by Reagan in the speech above?

Possible Answers:

Increase the amount of regulation of the U.S. economy

Cutting taxes, especially on the those with the highest incomes, in order to stimulate economic growth

Increases taxes to promote government spending

Increase the number of imports in the U.S. economy to spur economic growth

Correct answer:

Cutting taxes, especially on the those with the highest incomes, in order to stimulate economic growth

Explanation:

A central strand of supply-side economics, or "Reagonomics," as it is known, was cutting taxes, particularly on the those with the highest incomes, in order to stimulate economic growth. According to the theory, this economic growth would will eventually "trickle down" to all taxpayers and help the economy as a whole. 

Example Question #3 : Domestic Politics 1980–Present

Ronald Reagan was elected President during a time of economic stress in America. Inheriting a struggling economy, Reagan formulated two new tax programs, the Economic Recovery Act of 1981 and the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Both Acts lowered the tax rates to give tax relief to all Americans (but were, admittedly, heavily skewed to tax relief for the exceptionally wealthy). The Economic Recovery Act of 1981 indexed tax rates for inflation. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 efficiently closed loopholes in the tax law, as well as lowering the tax rates again. President Ronald Reagan referred to the 1986 Act as "a second American Revolution for hope and opportunity." He believed that America’s economy, and the American taxpayer, were struggling under an imbalanced tax burden, unnecessary social spending, and excessive government regulation.

Reagan based his tax plan on what economic theory?

Possible Answers:

Laissez-Faire Capitalism

Neoclassical Synthesis

Keynesian Economics

supply-side economics

Neo-Malthusian Theory

Correct answer:

supply-side economics

Explanation:

The economic plan of President Reagan was based on the belief that changes in marginal tax rates influence economic activity. He strongly believed that high tax rates discouraged work, investment and growth. Additionally, he felt that consumption, living standards and income levels interact to effect the economy. The marginal tax rate was also important because it indicated to the wage earner how much “additional” income would be taxed and sent to the government and how much income would be maintained by the wage earner. Thus, it was, ostensibly, an incentive to work (some would argue that poverty and the desire to avoid a life of struggle and hardship in a society with a rapidly shrinking social net would similarly function as incentive). This is a fundamental tenet of supply side economics. Reagan’s efforts to improve the economy in his two tax plans were based on supply side economic theory.

Example Question #1 : 1980–Present

The major political parties in the United States, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, are well recognized to the voting public. There are 50 additional political parties in the United States, however, that are active and offer candidates for President. These are collectively known as Third Parties. Third Parties serve an important role in the United States political system. These parties, formed by individuals with particular interests, issues, and ideologies, force the major parties to address new issues and can influence an election by taking votes from both major party candidates during an election year. Third Parties are also formed when individuals, dissatisfied with the major parties, split off from the major party. This type of Third Party is also called a Splinter Party. Third Parties have influenced American elections since 1912. There have been many well-known Third Party Presidential candidates.

The election of 1992 saw a third party candidate run for the Presidency. This candidate was one of the most successful third party candidates since 1912. This candidate did not win any Electoral College votes but did win a respectable percentage of the popular vote. Who was this candidate, what percentage of the popular vote did he win and what was the name of his party?

Possible Answers:

Robert Dole, 37% of the popular vote, The New Republican Party

George Wallace, 46% of the popular vote, The American Independent Party

Patrick Buchanan, 20% of the popular vote, The Reform Party

Ross Perot, 18.9% of the popular vote, The Independent Party

Newt Gingrich, 35% of the popular vote, The Free Speech Party

Correct answer:

Ross Perot, 18.9% of the popular vote, The Independent Party

Explanation:

Patrick Buchanan is a former senior aide to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. He attempted, unsuccessfully, to run for office as head of the Reform Party in 2000. Robert Dole is the former Senator from Kansas and did run for the Presidency, not as a third party candidate but as a member of the Republican Party. George Wallace ran as a third party candidate in 1968 earning 46 Electoral College votes for the American Independent Party. Newt Gingrich is a political adviser, author, and a former member of the House of Representatives where he also served as the Speaker of the House. Gingrich attempted a run for the Presidency in 2012 but did not receive the nomination of his political party, the Republican Party. Ross Perot ran in the 1992 election as The Independent Party candidate receiving 18.9% of the popular vote making him one of the most successful third party candidates since 1912.

Example Question #1 : Global Participation 1980–Present

Operation Desert Storm, also known as The Gulf War, began in 1991 as a response by the United States and Allied nations to Iraq’s attempt to conquer Kuwait. During its history, Kuwait had been a part of Iraq until 1923 when new borders were created.  It remained under British military protection until 1961. At that time, Kuwait joined the Arab League. Iraq protested this action claiming Kuwait’s status prior to 1923 made it part of Iraq’s territory. Kuwait formed its own Constitution in 1963 with the Emir and a group of ministers holding executive power. An assembly was also elected in the same year. In 1990, Saddam Hussein made the decision to regain the land lost and ordered his army to attack Kuwait. Hussein had threatened Kuwait for many years prior to the 1990 invasion; however, the extent of the invasion surprised the world. The Iraqi army rapidly seized all of Kuwait and was swiftly advancing towards Saudi Arabia. The United Nations and President George H.W. Bush demanded that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait. Iraq refused to withdraw from Kuwait and the Iraqi army continued to move southward. The result was Operation Desert Storm, which placed the largest number of American forces on foreign soil since the Viet Nam conflict.

What was the major concern of the world’s leaders regarding Iraq’s attack on Kuwait?

Possible Answers:

Fear that Russia might support Iraq with military supplies

Syrian troops would join the Iraqi troops in attacking Saudi Arabia

Iraq would be well positioned to attack the Arab Emirates, a major ally of the United States

Iraq would control a significant portion of the world’s oil supplies

Iran agreed to join with Iraq to reclaim territories it lost in World War II

Correct answer:

Iraq would control a significant portion of the world’s oil supplies

Explanation:

Combined with the oil reserves in Kuwait, control of Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves would give Iraq control of one-fifth of the world’s oil supply in addition to destabilizing the Middle East. King Fahd, of Saudi Arabia, agreed with the American plan to place troops on the Saudi border to defend against an Iraqi attack. The Arab Emirates worked with the allies to settle this dispute. Iran did not agree with Iraq in its attack on Kuwait, had not lost territories during World War II and was also working with the allies to prevent or end the war. The Soviet Union was interested in this war because it was taking place close to its southern border. The Soviet interest was more academic than active participation. Syria was a close ally of the United States in this endeavor providing staging bases and troops to help the allies in the war.

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