Foreign Aid

AP US Government and Politics

What portion of the federal budget does the US spend on foreign aid?


  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What's the big story here?

  4. Why do you think the U.S. spends such a small portion of its budget on foreign aid?

  5. What is one consequence of spending such a small portion of our budget on foreign aid?

  6. Is this information good news or bad news?

  7. What exactly is foreign aid anyway, and where do you think most of this foreign aid goes?*

  8. What % of our budget do you think the average American thinks we spend on foreign aid?**

  9. Why do you think there's such a huge divide in what Americans think we spend and what we actually spend?

  10. What portion of US GDP do you think we spend on foreign aid?***

  11. If you were emperor/empress/emprex or czar/czarina/czarx of America what percent of our budget would you spend on foreign aid?

  12. List three members of the US government who play a major role in formulating foreign aid spending and describe their role.

  13. In the comments section below, express your opinion of what portion of our budget we should spend on foreign aid: 

  14. Explain the opinion the following would probably have regarding foreign aid:

  • traditional US conservative

  • traditional US liberal

  • Anti-Federalist

  • Staunch Trump supporter

  • Staunch Bernie Sanders supporter

Learning Extension

I've put together an entire fantabulous lesson on foreign aid. Check it out and play our foreign aid party game at home!

Action Extension

Take our foreign aid quiz and then share it with your friends/fans/followers on facebook, Twitter, Myspace (kidding), Snapchat, or Instagram. After your "friends" answer what portion of the US budget they think we spend on foreign aid, share the actual amount and watch them freak out! Share your results in class or online.

Bonus Charts






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Governeithers and Governors

AP US Government and Politics

How many U.S. states have Democratic governors?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What surprised you most about this map?

  3. Why do you think the GOP has such an advantage in governorship?

  4. What is one consequence of this staggering GOP advantage?

  5. What is one geographical pattern in the map?

  6. Under some circumstances government can appoint people to serve in the national government. What positions may governors appoint?

  7. Under what circumstances may they make these appointments?

  8. What party controls the governor's mansion (the governor) and the legislature in your state and how has that personally impacted you?

  9. Governors make state policy and lead their state executive branches. What is one other way that governors can impact national politics and policy?

  10. Under the Articles of Confederation, the states were almost like little countries. Today, under the Constifreakingstution states have a lot less power. In the future do you think states will cease to exist?

  11. How does this map related to federalism?

  12. Do you think the US would be better off to have more of a unitary government (with concentration of power at the national level)?

  13. What is one positive impact of the fact that we have state governments and governors and don't just leave all the power to the national government?

  14. How do you think this map looks for Republican control of state legislatures?*

  15. What is one power of state legislatures that impacts US national elections?

  16. Considering that Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court (majority conservative), and the majority of state governments, would it be fair to say that the US is a Republican country?

  17. There are many more Democrats than Republicans in the U.S. How do you explain the difference in electoral numbers and in electoral outcomes?

Learning Extension

Read the Daily Kos article about state governments and how the Trump presidency may alter the state government map in 2018.

Action Extension

Contact your Governor and ask them to do the following: visit your classroom (really, this would be cool and if it is near election time - it always is - they might just do it), make your state great again, send you a photograph, write you a letter, lend you a key to the state, and make a proclamation declaring you the best dressed person in the entire state and entitling you to 15% off at McDonald's before 11 am every Tuesday. Share the results in class or online.





*Bonus Maps

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AP US Government & Politics

Since 1999, how many amendments to the Constitution have been sponsored in the U.S. Congress?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What story does this chart tell?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is a political consequence of this information?

  6. Which party proposed the most amendments?

  7. Why do you think that is?

  8. How many of these proposals received the 2/3 Congressional approval necessary to send them to the next step in the Amendment process?

  9. Why do you think these lawmakers are proposing amendments to the constitution instead of just passing a law?

  10. What topic do you think most of those Amendment proposals were about?*

  11. The last time a proposed amendment gained the necessary two-thirds support in both the House and Senate was 1978, when a measure giving District of Columbia residents voting representation in Congress was sent to the states for ratification. Only 16 states had ratified it when the seven-year time limit expired. When was the last time the U.S. Constitution was amended?

  12. Some would say it is too difficult to amend the Constitution? Explain your opinion of this:

  13. Just for kicks, let's just say you were planning to amend the Constitution. What method would you use to amend it?

  14. If you were to propose an amendment to the Constitution what would you propose?** Submit your proposal in the comments section below. The winner will get a certificate of achievement and will alter the US Constitution!

*Bonus Chart!!!!

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Learning Extension

Learn more about this with the good folks at Pew.

Action Extension

Contact your congressional representative and ask them to propose your amendment** to the Constitution.

Polarization Nation

AP US Government & Politics

How often do House members from the president's party vote with the president?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big story this chart tells?

  3. What is one reason for party polarization in the House?

  4. What is one consequence of party polarization in the House?

  5. In 1958, a House Democrat was just about as likely as not to vote with Republican President Eisenhower. Why has party loyalty in House voting changed over the past 6 decades?

  6. Overall, is this hyper-party polarization good or bad news?

  7. How different do you think these numbers are in the Senate?

  8. What do you think explains the difference between House and Senate voting?

  9. If the trends depicted in this chart continue, how often will party members vote against their president by the year 2020?

  10. If you were a Republican House member from Arkansas, what incentives would influence you to vote with the president's party.

  11. What is the overall effect of this hyper-party loyalty on the American political system?

  12. What would be one change that we could make to the US electoral system that would lower political partisanship in the House?

  13. Can you think of any bill where your House Representative crossed party lines and voted against their party?

  14. Do you believe the fake news that Prince wrote a song called Political Party Polarization Like it's 1999?

  15. Party polarization sounds like winterizing your political party. Do you agree?

  16. As we get closer to midterm elections, how could Trump's sliding approval ratings affect party loyalty in the House?

  17. POTUS Trump has recently made deals with Democratic congress members on issues like DACA and the debt ceiling. How does this fact connect to the information in the chart?

Learning Extension

Read this fantabulous 538 analysis of party polarization.

Action Extension

Contact your House Member and ask them how many times they have crossed party lines in a House vote, and under what circumstances they would cross party lines in the future. Share their response with class or online.

Changes in Spending

AP US Government & Politics

By 2040, what potion of the US Federal budget will be discretionary

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the difference between mandatory and discretionary spending?

  3. What story do these charts tell?

  4. What is one reason for the changing nature of US federal spending?

  5. What are two consequences of the changing nature of US federal spending?

  6. As discretionary spending gets squeezed, what are some specific discretionary U government programs that you think might get cut?

  7. Describe the general trend in overall (discretionary + mandatory)U.S. government spending?

  8. Let's say that you felt the government was spending too much money on mandatory spending. Is there anything the federal government could do about this?

  9. Overall, is this good news or bad?

  10. Why doesn't the US save money and just stop paying the interest on the debt?

  11. What questions do you have about all this?

  12. In the comments section below, list one program or expenditure that you wouldn't mind seeing cut from the US federal budget.

Learning Extension

Learn more about the changes in discretionary spending at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

Action Extension

Plug in your family information to the tax receipt calculator to see where the federal government spent your family's taxes.