Congress, the President, and Policymaking: A Historical Analysis

By Jean Reith Schroedel | Go to book overview

6
A Comparison of Theories

Theoretical Framework

The purpose of this chapter is to test the utility of alternative conceptions of the underlying patterns of legislative leadership over time. Providing clear legislative leadership is more difficult in the United States than in parliamentary democracies, because government in this country lacks an organic link between its legislative and executive functions. Separately elected legislative and executive branches of government are expected to share the responsibility for policymaking.

At different times scholars have used different analytic lenses to study the problem of policymaking in the United States. The three most important approaches employ the lenses of constitutional law, modernization, and political time to analyze the relative power of the branches. In the past only modernization and political time were thought to have predictive power. Those using the modernization school predict that the passage of time will witness a linear increase in the relative power of presidents and a commensurate decline in congressional power. 1 In contrast, the political time approach predicts that the underlying pattern is cyclical in nature. 2 Unlike these diachronic theories, the constitutional law approach, with its emphasis on the enduring nature of the Constitution, has been seen as more suitable for nonnative theory than for generating testable hypotheses about future interbranch behavior. 3

The basic theoretical argument of this work is that the Constitution has played a major part in determining the existence and extent of changes in the balance of power between Congress and the president.

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Congress, the President, and Policymaking: A Historical Analysis
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1: Introduction 3
  • 2 - Linking Goals and Methodologies 21
  • Notes 38
  • 3 - A Tale of Three Policies 41
  • 4 - Legislation Within Committees 83
  • Notes 116
  • 5 - Passing Legislation 121
  • Notes 153
  • 6 - A Comparison of Theories 155
  • Notes 173
  • 7 - Concluding Thoughts 175
  • Appendix: The Primary Data Set and Variables 188
  • Notes 202
  • Bibliography 203
  • Index 217
  • About the Author 234
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