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Doonan lectures on state policy implementation after election

By Dori Cohen

Section: News

November 16, 2012

Professor Michael Doonan (HS) Ph.D. ’02, spoke Tuesday on “Election 2012: The President, Congress and Social Policy Implications,” during which he emphasized the importance of the states in enacting the social reforms passed in the federal government. The federal level only makes the laws, said Doonan. It is up to the state governments to help spread them and put them into action.

He discussed the implications of policy change on people, opportunity and life changes in the United States and the necessity of state cooperation with the federal government to make these policy reforms de facto.

Popular contention over jobs and taxation, higher education, health care and immigration see wide debate. While the executive branch does have some influence on the matters, Congress passes most of the laws that help reform them. The states are responsible for implementation.

Doonan stressed the importance of work in the state level. “The federal government is going to be a mess for a while; there’s going to be more gridlock,” he said. Just because the federal government is inactive does not mean that progress can not be made. The states play an active role in law-actualization, said Doonan. Many of the reforms that were carried out on the national level are actually due to the work of the governments, of the states.

“Obama’s national health care reform was only brought about because it was foreshadowed in the state of Massachusetts,” he said.

Additionally, federal menu-labeling regulations created by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to which restaurant chains have been opposed since the regulations’ initial proposal in 2010, that outline nutrient-labeling requirements for restaurants that are part of a chain with 20 or more outlets were recently accepted by the eatery chains because such regulations were already being imposed in New York, Massachusetts and several other states. Instead of having to label nutritional values in some states, which is a hassle, the restaurant chain owners decided to do so in all of them.

States should take an even more active role in the lawmaking process, Doonan said, and do as much as they can to secure and extend social reforms in the country.

Afterward, Doonan answered various questions from the audience, ranging from oversimplified policies to the role of emotion in the past presidential election to, interestingly enough, his thoughts on former CIA Director David Petraeus’ resignation over an extramarital affair.

Doonan’s presentation was part of the Tuesday Talks program, a series of lectures by Heller faculty members and researchers on select Tuesdays throughout the year. Previous lectures given as part of the series include, “Global Health Spending: Learning to Do More with Less,” presented by Professor Allyala Krishna Nandakumar, and “Using Data and Policy Indicators to Monitor Diversity and Equity Among America’s Children,” delivered by Professor Dolores Acevedo-Garcia (HS), Director of the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy.

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