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Flashcards in final Deck (270):

A bill

draft law – a law in the making


the steps necessary for a bill to become law-the House

Introduced by a member or passed by Senate
Assigned to Committee, then subcommittee, or drafted there
Mark up (writing)
Positive Report
Scheduled for debate by Rules Committee, “rule” assigned to limit debate and amendments


the steps necessary for a bill to become law-the Senate

Introduced by a member or passed by House

Assigned to Committee, then subcommittee, or drafted there

Mark up (writing)
Positive Report
Scheduled for debate by Majority Leader (in consultation with Minority Leader); no limit on debate or amendments
(table in lecture 11)


A missed step, such as a negative vote by either house, means...

no law


pocket veto

occurs if Congress submits a bill for the President’s approval but goes out of session before the 10 days are up. A pocket veto cannot be overridden. Congress can avoid a pocket veto by staying in session as long as necessary to complete the 10 days.


discharge petition

If the committee and scheduling procedures fail to place the bill before Congress, a majority can bring it to the floor with a discharge petition followed by a vote to discharge. That rarely happens.


How Congress Spends Your Money

To spend your money Congress must do three things, which in our system requires three separate laws. So says Congressional procedure adopted by Congress, not the Constitution.
1. Tax or Borrow
2. Authorize government activity
3. appropriate money year by year
-Another feature of the budget process concerns the role of the executive: Executive Budget Initiative


1. Tax or borrow

Congress must first get the money needed to run the government. It does that by taxing or borrowing, by passing revenue or debt-ceiling bills.


2. Authorize government activity

Congress must create administrative agencies and tell them what they can or must do. It does that by passing authorization bills - - bills that establish executive units, their programs, and their powers. (Conventionally, revenue and borrowing bills are classified as authorizations too.)


3. appropriate money year by year

-Congress then must give money to the agencies and programs that it has authorized- by passing appropriations bills. Without money a program exists only on paper. (It is not uncommon for Congress to decide not to appropriate funds to authorized programs.) Appropriations are annual: they have to be renewed every year - - else the agencies and programs that they would have funded must shut down and furlough staff.


exception to money appropriation

-entitlements, or backdoor spending. The initial authorization law says that certain people are entitled to certain amounts of money (according to some formula) regardless of whether Congress has appropriated enough. Sometimes the law authorizes automatic increases no matter what the state of the budget is. Congress gives itself no choice but to appropriate the authorized money unless it changes or rescinds the original authorization law. It does not do that directly, case by case, but by allowing the treasury to borrow as need be. In all other areas, an agency or program would die a sudden death without its annual appropriation. Entitlements are classified as “non-discretionary spending” in the federal budget. Needless to say, they bear much of the responsibility for deficit spending.
-Examples of entitlements: Medicare, Social Security, VA Pensions, Pell Grants, and farm subsidies.


Executive Budget Initiative

-The Budget Act of 1921 requires executive budget initiative: each year the President must submit a single, comprehensive budget that says exactly how much will be spent and on what. Congress modifies this presidential baseline to make an overall decision on how much to tax and spend.
Prior to 1921, each department would ask for money, and Congress would decide piecemeal how much to spend. The current system makes it easier to assess the “big picture,” to know how much is spent overall.
The same act created the Budget Bureau, charged with consolidating the budget requests from executive departments into one comprehensive budget proposal.
-The Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 came in response to President Nixon’s refusal to spend funds appropriated by Congress. It turned the Bureau of the Budget into the Office of Management and Budget, or OMB. Today the OMB is one of the most important executive agencies. It coordinates all executive-branch requests and submits the budget to Congress.


The Budget Process

-Executive budget initiative is one kind of centralization in the budget process. Since 1974 there has emerged a second kind, one involving Congress. Prescribed by the Budget and Impoundment Act of 1974, the mechanics of the budget process are as follows:
• Acting for the President, the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) prepares a comprehensive executive budget proposal in January.
• The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) prepares a report on the President’s proposal by Feb. 15. It questions the assumptions the President’s proposal makes about how fast the economy is projected to grow, how high unemployment is likely to be, how much revenue will be collected, etc. This office is made up of civil servants, supposedly nonpartisan professional economists.
If they wish, the various legislation-writing committees make reports on the aspects of the proposal pertaining to their jurisdictions by Feb. 25.
• The reports and proposals of these three groups are then submitted to the House and Senate Budget Committees. These committees must then report by April 1. They base their budget proposals on the President’s original proposal but always make some changes, large or small.
• The First Concurrent Budget Resolution in supposed to pass Congress by April 15th. This is not a bill, only a resolution that will never be submitted to the president for his signature. It is not a draft law but a guide for subsequent revenue, authorization, and appropriations bills.
• Throughout the summer, new bills – tax, authorizations, and appropriations - - are prepared in the various Congressional committees (e.g. agriculture, energy) pertaining to the agencies and programs under their jurisdiction. Each house has an Appropriations Committee, whose subcommittees correspond more or less to the substantive committees (e.g. Commerce, Education, Agriculture).
• In September comes the Second Concurrent Budget Resolution, reflecting the new laws generated by the bill-writing committees. Here the comprehensive budget is revised.
• Usually a reconciliation act is needed to revise the laws just passed so they conform to the new budget resolution. Such an act breaks the standard mold by addressing authorizations and appropriations and a multitude of committee jurisdictions all in one fell swoop, and it is treated as a single, must-vote, take-it-or-leave-it package, not subject to amendment or filibuster.
• Finally the fiscal year begins on October 1.


when the budget timeline breaks down

This is the nominal timeline of events. But it is rarely adhered to: delays occur. Rarely do both houses concur on budget resolutions. Rarely does Congress pass all required appropriations bills by October 1. If that deadline is not met and a final budget is not ready by October 1, Congress passes one or more continuing resolutions, constituting a temporary budget to keep the federal government running. Without them, the federal government, or part of it, shuts down.
Sometimes the schedule is followed closely enough but Congress underestimates needs. Then it must appropriate more money later in the year with supplemental and deficiencies acts.


Reagan and enhancing pres power through the budget

Although designed to curtail presidential power, the Congressional centralization mentioned earlier allowed President Ronald Reagan to enhance presidential power. In 1980, when R2 first came into office, instead of accepting the budget passed the previous year, he drafted a sweeping new budget and demanded that Congress pass it as a “reconciliation act.” In that way he acted rather like a prime minister in a parliamentary system, who annually demands a yes-or-no vote on a single, comprehensive “budget.” Later presidents emulated him. For example, President Obama's controversial, 2,700-page health care bill was ultimately passed as a "reconciliation act."
Aside: As I said, failure to appropriate enough money early enough prompts later Congressional action in the form of supplemental and deficiency bills to fill holes. This suggests that the budget numbers discussed in September do not mean all that much. Maybe politicians try to deceive us with low appropriations - - or maybe it is hard to guess how much money will be needed.


Congressional legislation obviously depends on...

1. votes
2. less obviously on procedural or agenda control
-Both reflect strategy, and strategy reflects congressmen’s goals.
-Apart from personal values, those goals are driven by the reelection incentive and by partisanship.



The former means that Congressmen want, above all, to hold onto their jobs. In Europe, members of parliament belong to disciplined parties that present platforms to the electorate, who vote mostly on the basis of party positions. In the US, parties are weaker, less disciplined, less committed to clear, comprehensive platforms. Therefore, getting reelected in the US requires pretty much that every Congressman watch out for himself. He must see himself as an agent of his constituency, as much as (maybe more than) his party. That leads him toward the following activities:
-Credit claiming
-position taking


credit claiming

A congressman wants his constituents to see him doing good things for them. So he tries to take credit for every good thing the government does for them. Among other things he is usually the first to announce any federal benefit for his district, such as a school-construction or transportation grant or a defense contract. The bureaucracy allows this in order to stay on his good side.


position taking

Each representative is one of 435 and often will not prevail in getting what his constituency wants. Even so he will try hard to show that he has at least fought for the “right” cause (or the "left" cause, if that's what his constituents prefer). This involves voting for losing propositions, making public statements, etc.



Each representative tries to deliver locally targeted benefits of two sorts: Pork is money directly spent on separate, tangible projects in his district - roads, hospitals, levees, bridges, schools, and whatnot. Laws that authorize such projects are called pork-barrel legislation, especially when one wishes to deride them for inefficiency. Case work (or constituent service) involves acting as an intermediary to help constituents with the federal bureaucracy. A congressman’s staff might intervene with the post office, expedite the issuance of a passport, secure a veteran’s benefit, etc. Congressmen have local staff dedicated to this service. The bureaucracy is usually pretty responsive because Congress appropriates its budget. That may sound a bit shady, but it isn’t, or it need not be. A voteseeking congressman has an incentive to play ombudsman. Budget-seeking bureaucrats have an incentive to obey him with alacrity. It is surprising that not more citizens take advantage of this service.



This means that the shared incentive congressmen have to secure goodies for their own constituencies results in something for everyone. Congressmen scratch each other’s backs. In order to avoid fights over the benefits, everyone goes along with passing laws that are known to be fat with pork, hence inefficient. There is pork for all. For example, interstate highway funds bring roads to every state. Once in Honolulu I took special pleasure in driving down the Eisenhower Interstate Highway.


Beside the reelection incentive, congressmen are driven also by...

partisan and personal preferences. After all, congressmen are not just reelection machines but people who chose government as a calling. And they are not isolated individuals but team members, or partisans.


a key to understanding congressional behavior is to

...appreciate how the particular rules and institutions of Congress (its gears and levers) affect actors’ incentives and strategies.


Legislative Strategy

There are at least three possible kinds of voting:
1. Sincere voting
2. Strategic voting
3. Cooperative voting


1. Sincere voting

Here a congressman votes for his favorite option no matter what.


2. Strategic voting

Here he may vote against an option he likes in order to accomplish something further or to avoid a greater evil: he looks ahead and bases his choice of how to vote on the consequences rather than the content of alternative actions.


3. Cooperative voting

Here he makes a deal with others to trade votes, or logroll, and he sticks to the deal.


agenda-setting, or procedural manipulation: -

-deciding what the people think about?


Examples of Strategic vs. Sincere Voting and Agenda Control

(lecture 11-look in notes)


most of the executive branch is...

the bureaucracy – all the offices and civil servants who do most of the day-to-day work of regulating your behavior and providing you with services.


Constitutional Source of Executive Powers

Article II of the Constitution establishes the executive. It is remarkably short but for the lengthy statement about presidential election. The President is made Commander in Chief and given the power to enforce the law, appoint top subordinates and judges, negotiate treaties, receive foreign diplomats, commission officers, convene Congress, and veto legislation.
Article I of the Constitution establishes the Legislative branch. When making laws, this branch designs and finances the executive branch and delegates its own powers to that branch. Without such delegation, there would not be much of an executive branch.


Organization of the Executive Branch

Immediately below the President, the executive branch has 2 parts: the Executive Office of the President, and the Departments and Agencies.
Apart from these two parts there is the somewhat strange office of the Vice President, constitutionally a legislative office unless the Presidency becomes vacant. Historically, the VP did very little. He did not attend Cabinet meetings until the 1920s, under President Harding, and he was not treated as an executive officer at all until the 1950s, under President Eisenhower.


Executive Office of the President

This comprises people who work in or near the White House and have little or no legal authority but do have great proximity and access. They report directly to the president. Their role is advisory. They help the President do his job but have no operational authority: they cannot run the programs that provide you with services and regulate your lives.

The different components of the Executive Office of the President are the following:
-White House Staff
-Chief of Staff (runs the White House and helps the President run the Executive Office)
-Speech writers
-Legislative Liaison (helps the president coordinate relations with the legislative branch)
-Press Secretary, etc., etc.

Within the White House staff the top people are made “Counselors to the President.” Some of them sit in cabinet meetings, courtesy of the President. Some become more important than some cabinet members.
-The Rest of the Executive Office
-NSC (National Security Council), OMB (Office of Management and Budget), CEA (Council of Economic Advisors), The U.S. Trade Representative, etc., etc.


NSC (National Security Council)

The NSC helps the President coordinate the work of the State and Defense Departments and intelligence agencies.


OMB (Office of Management and Budget)

the OMB helps the President coordinate the budget requests of the various executive departments and prepare the comprehensive executive budget proposal. The head of the OMB is quite important, more important than the Secretary of Commerce, for example.


CEA (Council of Economic Advisors)

The CEA, despite its name, doesn’t really give the president advice on economic policy so much as measure and predict economic performance


The U.S. Trade Representative

the Trade Representative is also quite important. He negotiates trade agreements. Although an ambassador, he reports to the President, not the Secretary of State or Commerce.


Departments and Agencies

-executive departments
-independent executive agencies
-All these units have operational authority, established (and limited) by Congress.
The personnel, including the heads, of both the executive departments and of the independent executive agencies may be fired by the President.
-two other sets of executive bodies whose personnel may not be fired by the President: Independent Regulatory Commissions and Government Corporations.


executive departments

-(State, Defense, Treasury, etc.),-their heads make up the Cabinet.
-Usually the President adds the OMB Director, the White House Chief of Staff, and maybe others to the Cabinet.


independent executive agencies

Examples include the GSA (General Service Administration), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), FDA (Food and Drug Administration), NSF (National Science Foundation). The heads of these agencies are appointed by the president. These agencies are not in any executive department but are like executive departments, only narrower in scope. Their heads normally are not in the cabinet.


among the Independent Regulatory Commissions:

the Federal Reserve Board (Central Bank) and the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission). These are more politically independent by design than the departments and executive agencies.


Among Government Corporations is the US:

Postal Service (formerly a department) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. These are much like private corporations but are “owned” by Congress.


shift of influence/power

-Shift of Influence, cabinet → executive office
-In the 19th century cabinet officers were powerful people enjoying great proximity and access to the president. Until the 1930s, the President’s staff consisted of little more than a personal secretary. After WWII, Presidents expanded their staffs and relied less and less on the cabinet for advice. Now the President meets daily with staff, while some cabinet officers have a hard time ever seeing the President.


How can one explain this shift?

H1: Bigger government has meant a greater need for coordination among cabinet departments; the executive needs a small team to direct the vast government structure. For example, the OMB helps the president coordinate and consolidate the different department’s budgets in one comprehensive proposal. In managing relations with any given foreign country, the president relies on the NSC to help coordinate the various departments’ policies toward that country.
H2: Department heads (cabinet secretaries) are captured, by their clients and by civil service employees. For example, the Secretary of Defense speaks for the generals; the Secretary of Agriculture speaks for the farmers, etc. Therefore, the President cannot fully rely on cabinet secretaries to act on his agenda.
H3: Cabinet secretaries are bound by law - - by the authorizations that created and empowered their offices - - and by Congress’s power of the purse. They are not so easily controlled by the President because of their special dependence on Congress. By contrast, Executive Office staff do not have a special relationship with Congress; they are beholden to the President alone and are motivated to advance his goals.
It is hard to decide which of these three is the best explanation. They all have some validity. However, that the shift was gradual over a long period of time suggests that H1 provides the best explanation.


the president's many jobs

• Chief of State
The president is in many ways like a king; he has ceremonial duties and is the figurehead embodying the state.
• Head of Government
The president is also like a prime minister in that he leads a government that administers acts of the legislature.
• Chief Executive
The president is like a corporate CEO too. He is the sole top executive: unlike a PM, he does not need to take a vote of the cabinet. In the US we often refer to the President, governors, and mayors as chief executives--a very American label--rather than heads of government.
• Commander-in-Chief
Though a civilian, the President is also like a general or flag officer. He commands all the armed forces, including state militias when in federal service.
• Party Leader
The President is like a Prime Minister in another way: he is the head of his party. But the President is weaker because he cannot always command a majority in Congress even if his party has a majority. In the US, parties are not so centralized or disciplined that the President can order party members to vote a particular way in the legislature.
• National Political Leader
The President leads the people and explains the government’s policies to them.
Now we turn to consider the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches.


Presidential Power and Congressional Checks-Army

-President's Powers: Commander in Chief. The exact meaning of this is not clear in the Constitution, but it is understood, partly from British usage.
-Congress’s Checks:
• Raises forces,
• Regulates forces,
• Appropriates money to armed forces,
• Declares war.
Often Presidents have gone to war without really getting Congressional approval (e.g. Korea, Vietnam). In response Congress passed the War Powers Act (1973). Unless Congress has declared or otherwise authorized war, this requires that the President notify Congress within 48 hours of troop deployment overseas, and that after 60 days of troop deployment he either secure Congressional consent or bring the troops home. Absent consent, he has 30 days to bring them home. There are serious questions about the constitutionality of the War Powers Act. Both Bushes secured Congressional approval of their Middle East wars. Bush Sr. attacked Panama in 1990, and Clinton attacked Serbia in 1998, without Congressional authorization.


Presidential Power and Congressional Checks-foreign relations

-president's powers:
Chief Diplomat
The president more or less runs the foreign relations of the country.
-congress's checks:
Congress has legislative authority over commerce. Senate confirms diplomatic appointments and ratifies treaties.

It would be an exaggeration, but not too bad a one, to say that Congress mostly runs domestic affairs, “the inside stuff,” while the President mostly runs foreign affairs, “the outside stuff.” It would also not be wrong to say that most voters think that Republicans are more adept in managing foreign affairs while Democrats are more adept in managing domestic affairs. Some authors have used these two observations to explain voters’ preference historically for divided government in general and for a certain pattern of divided government in particular: since WWII, voters have often elected a Republican President and a Democratic Congress.


Two Types of International Agreements

1. Treaty
2. Executive Agreements


1. treaty

A treaty needs to be ratified by a 2/3 vote in the Senate and can be on any subject. It may even override state law. This last fact helps answer the question of why treaties require Senate approval and why they require such a high vote to pass. Those requirements are a safeguard against federal encroachment on states’ rights.


2. Executive Agreements

Executive agreements are of two kinds: pure and congressional-executive. Unlike a treaty, neither one of these can violate state laws, and neither requires a 2/3 Senate majority.



Pure: These are about issues within the President’s jurisdiction and, therefore, do not require a congressional vote. They are typically about things on which the President has to take quick action. An example is an armistice.



These are about any issue within the federal government’s jurisdiction, so they are subject to ordinary Congressional law and require a congressional (majority) vote. An example is a trade agreement (to reduce tariffs, or whatnot).


How can you tell the difference between a treaty and a congressional-executive agreement? When do you call something a treaty or a congressional-executive agreement?

The Constitution, which mentions only treaties, does not say. Presidents have discretion in which route to take, depending on their needs. For example, in 1845, President Sam Houston wanted to rush Texas into the US. President John Tyler (who wanted to expand the US) found that he was short of the 2/3s Senate vote needed to ratify a treaty between the US and Texas. Instead, Tyler called the agreement between the US and Texas a law and got a simple majority in both the House and Senate to incorporate Texas into the Union. He invoked Congress’s power to admit new states.


Presidential Power and Congressional Checks-exec

President's Power-Chief Executive
• Executes (enforces) the law
• May demand the opinion of his cabinet
• Appoints and fires executive branch employees, including cabinet members

Congress's Checks and Balances
• Authorize programs
• Appropriates funds
• Confirms executive appointments

Oversight: Congress also monitors executive agencies’ performance.


Presidential Power and Congressional Checks-head of state

President's Power-Head of State
• Pardons
• Commissions officers

Congress's Checks and Balances
-no checks
• Confirms general and flag officers


Presidential Power and Congressional Checks-Legislative

President's Power-legislative
• Convenes Congress (This is no big deal in modern times, since Congress stays in session for a long time.)
• Adjourns Congress if need be
• Recommends legislation (This too is no big deal.)
• Vetoes bills (This is a significant power.)
Apart from these formal powers the President has some more informal powers:
• Leads party (The President coordinates his party’s legislative moves.)
• Bargains with Capitol Hill (The President has considerable power to offer people inducements.)
• Bully (awesome sauce) pulpit (The President can use the salience of his office to capture the public’s ear on a particular issue.)

Congress's Checks and Balances
• Legislates
• Overrides vetoes
• Must follow for leadership to work.
• A pulpit too, but less bully.


Source of Presidential Power

Lowi, Ginsberg, Shepsle, and Ansolabehere argue that the US President is the world’s most powerful person. What, we may ask, is the source of that power?

H1: The President draws his power from the formal-legal structures of the US government.

H2: The President is responsible for the direction of the government and is not easily replaced, so most of us wish him well and follow his lead even if we did not vote for him.

H3: The President is the most salient policy coordinator. Potential coalition members face a coordination problem—they need the equivalent of a Santa Monica Pier where they can “meet.” The President is the equivalent of the Santa Monica Pier. There is no alternative to the President in terms of power and prominence: if circumstances make it desirable to follow someone’s lead, he becomes the focal leader. Also, thanks to this unique position, the President’s public pronouncements bind him to the commitments he makes. That makes his commitments especially credible.
H1 and H2 are somewhat plausible. But legal powers are less than real power, and there has to be a reason why it is the President who is held responsible for so much. H3 brings out the incentive we have to follow his lead.


enforcing or implementing policies

concerns how legislation translates into practice: --how, for example, the Department of Health and Human Services implements the Affordable Care Act. Earlier in the course we mentioned that the federal government (Congress) under the Articles of Confederation had this problem: it could not enforce its will.


problems with implementation-examples

A telling example of the problem of implementation is George Washington’s suggestion to Congress that cattle and grain be taken from the farmers in Long Island so that the British, who had just landed there, could not get them. Congress took his advice, but nothing happened: the farmers kept their cattle and grain.
A couple of other examples are Lincoln’s ordering General McClellan to attack Richmond, and his ordering General Meade to pursue Lee after Gettysburg. They failed to carry out Lincoln’s orders.
Similar examples involve Soviet leader Gorbachev’s initial efforts to reduce drinking and then to reform the economy in the USSR. His orders had scant effect.
-These examples are instances of the agency problem. How does someone, a principal, get someone else, an agent, to do something?


Political theory vs political science

Much of political theory is about how government should be organized to reach good decisions - - and what, for that matter, constitutes a good decision.
Much of political science, in contrast, is about what policies are made and how.
Our problem today is a third one: the problem of governance, or control - - the problem of how policies are enforced, or implemented, of how political decisions have effect.


How do you get bureaucrats to obey you?

This is not a trivial problem. Even Hobbes’s sovereign, the strongest guy around, cannot coerce everyone in society to obey him; physically it is not feasible. A bureaucracy big and strong enough to compel citizens to obey the law must itself be compelled to obey the law.


Principal-Agent Problem

-Principal: This is someone who wishes to delegate power to someone else to do something, to implement some policy. Examples include a king, an employer, Congress.
-Agent: This is someone who has been hired or charged by the principal to do something. Examples include lesser nobles, employees, the bureaucracy.
-How, having delegated power, can a principal control his agent to get the job done? It is not feasible to monitor the agent(s) all the time-PD:
-The agent can either work or shirk, either do the job or not. The principal can either monitor the agent’s behavior or not. For the principal, monitoring is costly: if you could monitor all your agents all the time, you could do most of this work yourself. His favorite outcome is for the agent to do the job without being monitored, while his least favored outcome is for the agent to shirk despite being monitored. If the principal knew for sure that the agent would shirk, he had rather not monitor. The agent’s preferences are obvious.
-No matter what the agent does, the principal is better off not monitoring. The principal will always play “don’t monitor.” The agent knows this. So he will always play “shirk.” Thus the outcome consists of the principal not monitoring and the agent shirking. Both suffer. Both would have fared better had they played “monitor” and “work.”
-The principal faces a choice of either delegating or not delegating power to an agent. In case the principal does delegate, the cost of doing so is that the principal must monitor the agent. If the principal does not delegate power, then the cost is that the principal must do the job himself. The principal’s problem is to minimize the cost while getting the job done.


how to tell if Congress is getting its way

1. One way to tell whether Congress is getting its way is to look for compliance. One might read the law and look at bureaucrats’ actions. In theory this is possible but in practice it is very hard to do.
2. to look for sanctions (Congressional punishment) as a measure of compliance. Presumably the greater the number of cases one observes of Congress punishing bureaucrats, the less bureaucratic compliance there is. But this logic is faulty.

So it may seem we have no good way to evaluate whether the federal bureaucracy is doing a good job, whether Congress is getting its will enforced. This general problem is aggravated when there are multiple agents. Then it is hard to distinguish between shirkers and workers even when looking.


observational equivalence

It is like driving into a town and looking to see if the jail is empty in order to evaluate the job the sheriff is doing. An empty jail is consistent with the sheriff’s doing a great job but also with the sheriff’s doing a terrible job. An empty jail represents the problem of observational equivalence. Two very different causes, a very good and a very bad sheriff (or very good monitoring and very bad monitoring), may give rise to the same outcome—an empty jail. Remember empty jails.


Agency Problem in a Complex Organization-examples

How to observe each agent’s contribution to a collective product? Example: Tug of war. How can you tell if an individual is actually pulling or just huffing and puffing? Example: (True story) A group of Chinese villagers had to pull barges up the Yangtse River with ropes. Because it is hard to tell how hard someone is pulling, everyone shirked a bit. As a result, all made less income than they could have. They solved this problem by hiring another villager to whip them. He whipped them all whenever the team fell short of some specified rate. (Oh, and the whipper himself was a reliable agent because he enjoyed the work. Or maybe the wives monitored him, but they enjoyed the show.)
Another example: Suppose you have hired two people to row you to Catalina (each person manning one of the two oars). When you tell them that the boat is moving too slowly, each one blames the other and says that he is rowing slowly in order to adjust to the other’s slowness (to keep the boat from going in circles). How do you know who is telling the truth? How can you isolate any one individual’s contribution?
Yet another example: Suppose, in a community’s school system, that test scores are declining. The teachers, administrators, and parents blame each other. It is hard to tell who is at fault.


Congress’s Problem

Congress needs to delegate power to the bureaucracy, and it needs to control the bureaucracy. The problem is that Congress is one principal monitoring a great number of agents.
Congress has some weapons it can use: appropriations and authorizations. Congress can cut funding to bureaucrats or rescind their legal authority.
The difficulty is that, with so many agents, Congress has a hard time telling where to aim its weapons. Because it is hard to isolate individual agents’ contributions, Congress cannot use rewards and punishments effectively.
Congress’s task is the oversight of the federal bureaucracy. Oversight refers to legislative efforts to ensure bureaucratic compliance with legislative goals.


Has Congress lost control?

There are two conventional impressions: One is that Congress has delegated much of its authority. The other is that Congress has neglected its oversight obligation because there is a paucity of oversight hearings and sanctions (an “empty jail”).
The first impression is correct; the second is not. The second impression is based on faulty logic: the paucity of hearings and sanctions may or may not be the result of Congressional neglect.
Remember that empty jail.


Congress’s Solution: checks & balances inside the bureaucracy

One can distinguish between two kinds of oversight:
1. Police Patrol
2. Fire Alarm


1. police patrol

Akin to real police patrols, this kind of oversight involves Congress’s selecting and examining a sample of bureaucratic actions to look for violations. The aim, of course, is to punish and deter violations. Police patrol oversight is comparatively centralized, active, and direct. Congress itself initiates and carries out the monitoring of the bureaucracy.


2. fire alarm

Akin to real fire alarms, this kind of oversight involves Congress’s establishing rules and procedures for citizens to complain about the bureaucracy - - to ring an alarm - - and seek redress. It is less centralized, less active, and less direct than police patrol. Like the LAFD, Congress does not send out its hook-and-ladder looking for fires but waits for an alarm to ring. And except in the worst cases, alarms are usually answered by superior bureaucrats or courts or congressional staff, rarely by congressmen themselves (the book is wrong here).
Fire-alarm oversight gives the power to monitor bureaucrats’ behavior to those who have the greatest incentive to monitor it: the victims (potential and actual) of bureaucratic noncompliance.
As a matter of regular practice, Congress uses fire alarms quite a lot.
Private citizens, corporations, labor unions, and interest groups become the monitors of bureaucratic agencies; they sound the fire alarms to which other bureaucratic agencies, courts, or Congress itself responds.
It is important to note, however, that Congress cannot rely on the fire alarm model to monitor all government agencies. Some, such as the CIA, operate abroad and do not appear to have any domestic clients that can complain about their noncompliance - - except, of course, that we might all complain about the overall product.


Advantages of fire alarms

Police patrols:
-congress samples bureaucratic behavior
-congress wastes time monitoring actions that turns out to be nonviolations
-congressmen get little credit
-misses many violations

Fire Alarms:
-Citizens and interest groups complain
-There is no waste because olny violations are brought to notice
-Congressmen jump at the chance to claim credit for helping citizens
-rarely misses violations (although there are some "false alarms"


Fire Alarm Examples-five ways in which Congress uses fire alarms

1. Subgovernments
2. Organization of Interests
3. Casework
4. Administrative Procedures Act of 1946
5. Direct Congressional Intervention


1. Subgovernments

These are also known as iron triangles. A bureaucratic agency, its relevant congressional committee staff, and its clientele (industry, interest group, beneficiaries) work together. Example: The lumber industry, the Department of Agriculture, and the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Forestry. They are in constant touch and keep each other informed of problems.


2. Organization of Interests

Congress initiates the effort to organize an otherwise unorganized group of people or industries so that they can monitor the activities of the bureaucracy regulating them. Congress creates an agency to act as the organizing force. Remember that individuals who share some interest nevertheless face a prisoners’ - dilemma problem in organizing. Congress can help them solve that PD. For example, the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce were created to help farmers and business interests to organize


3. Casework

This, as I mentioned earlier, refers to Congressmen’s willingness to help their constituents deal with government bureaucracies. The system is set up so that everyone has an incentive to act in the right way: bureaucrats would like to please Congress (on which they depend for funding), Congressmen would like to take credit for having helped their constituents, and voters would like to have their problems solved. Example: A veteran who doesn’t receive his VA pension check calls his Congressman’s local office and the check arrives two days later.


4. Administrative Procedures Act of 1946

This and later acts give citizens legal standing before agencies and courts to complain about noncompliance by government agencies. Congress has made it fairly easy for citizens or industries that are hurt by some bureaucrat’s action to complain to higher bureaucrats or to courts. Also Congress has required that before implementing new regulations or policies a federal agency must announce its intention to do so; this gives individuals and groups that expect to be affected by the new policy time to take action. With these acts, Congress has made various parts of government (courts etc.) more accessible to citizens’ fire alarms.


5. Direct Congressional Intervention

Finally, Congress has made itself accessible to citizens’ complaints by reserving the power to intervene directly and limit or rescind an agency’s jurisdiction.
Example: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tried to regulate breakfast-cereal commercials aired during Saturday morning cartoon shows, and also funeral parlors. The industries involved complained to Congress. Congress agreed with the industries and said that the FTC could not regulate them.
Another example: A federal agency was trying to help West Virginia attract new businesses. Other states complained that businesses located in their territories were being drawn away, contrary to the authorizing law. Congress agreed and closed the agency.


completely hands-off style

The discussion so far, centering around fire alarms, involves Congress’s delegation of power and its decentralized style of management. One can also identify a completely hands-off style. One can imagine situations in which it would suit Congress to delegate power completely. In one such situation Congress wants to shift responsibility for tough choices (e.g. on abortion, to the courts). In another, only a complete delegation of power can ensure that Congress will resist the temptation to engage in “bad” behavior. Knowing itself to be vulnerable to political pressure, Congress may decide to take itself out of decision processes that are best isolated from politics
-ex: US money supply
-That explains the independent status of the Federal Reserve Board (the US central bank). Congress has taken its hands completely off the Fed.


completely hands-off style: example

A good example is the management of the US money supply. Remember that under the Articles of Confederation irresponsible management of individual states’ currencies (printing excessive amounts) ultimately ruined their systems of credit and with it their exchange economies. It is not hard to see how political pressures may tempt Congress to manipulate money in a similar way, with terrible consequences.


The Federal Reserve Board Controls the Money Supply

The Fed’s task of controlling the money supply is critical to the economy’s health. Too much or too little money leads to trouble.
Too much money in the system==>inflation (too many dollars chasing too few goods raises prices).
Too little money in the system==>unemployment (too few dollars chasing too many goods lead companies to produce less).


The Fed uses three tools to control the money supply:

1. Lends money to banks and sets interest rates.
2. Set Reserve Ratio
3. Conducts Open Market Operations


1. Lends money to banks and sets interest rates.

If it lowers interest rates or lends to banks liberally, then money becomes cheaper and is easier to find, and banks lend more to borrowers at lower rates. This generally spurs the economy but may create inflation. The reverse occurs if the Fed raises rates or cuts back on loans to banks.


2. Sets Reserve Ratio

The Fed can change the amount of money it requires banks to keep in cash reserves. Increasing this “reserve ratio” reduces the amount of money the banks can lend. That reduces the money supply in the system.


3. Conducts Open Market Operations

The Fed sells and buys government bonds. It thereby acts as a money sponge. By selling new bonds the Fed reduces the money supply (the purchasers give the Fed cash in exchange for a piece of paper; the Fed puts the cash in its vault). The Fed will sometimes wring itself out by buying back government bonds to increase the money supply. This they have been doing since 2008, calling it “quantitative easing.”


4th branch of gov:

the citizenry-voters, parties, interest groups-we affect policy


Political Participation by Citizens

There are many ways to participate in politics. One is to vote.


Voting has four steps:

- Register to vote. This once was a hard step; now it is easy
- Go to the polls. - Select a subject on which to vote – a particular office or ballot issue.
- Make a choice - - pick one of the options - - and record it as instructed.


other forms of Political Participation by Citizens

-Write to an office holder.
-Speak publicly.
-Persuade others privately.
-Join associations (Sierra Club, trade organizations, labor unions, NRA, etc.).
- Contribute money to political campaigns. (In most other countries campaigns are publicly financed.)
- Join a party.
- Work for a party or candidate organization.
- Run for office.


Why Vote?

It is hard to explain who votes and how, because it is hard to explain why people vote at all. The paradox of not voting is that one vote makes no difference, so why bother to vote? - - but people do. In other words, because a single vote never makes a difference, it is hard to explain voting the same way we explain other acts. The act of voting is a puzzle.


When is it rational to vote?

Compare this question with another: When is it rational to gamble? Is it rational to carry an umbrella?
PD-lecture 15-3 diff
- Judged as usual, it is rational for a voter to vote for f if and only if the probability that his vote will make a difference (p) multiplied by how much he stands to gain by f’s victory equals or exceeds the cost of voting, that is,
p x value of f ≥ cost of voting
Suppose that
cost of voting = $1
value to voter of having f win = $90,000
p = 1/100,000.
With these values, which are unrealistically favorable to the voter’s calculus, the inequality is not satisfied. It is irrational to vote.
At least according to this way of assessing the rationality of actions, voting seems irrational. If anything, the probability that a person’s vote will be pivotal or decisive is generally much smaller than 1/100,000.
[Hitler was elected head of the Nazi Party by one vote, and President Andrew Johnson escaped impeachment conviction by one vote. But the voters were a small group, not a public electorate.]


the cost of voting is...

the opportunity cost - - the value of forgone benefits, such as sleeping, watching T.V., or (best of all) studying political science.


Why, then, do people vote?

Several hypotheses have been entertained: - -
1. the election is close
2. voters make a mistake
3. voting is not very costly
4. links voting to acts of charity-we are inclined to be altruistic
5. A better hypothesis is that we are disinclined to free ride
6. voting=duty
7. investment and consumption value


1. the election is close

One is that the election is close. But not all elections are close, and even unusually close ones are never decided by one vote. It is true that a voter is more likely to be pivotal in a close election than in a not-so-close election. But that is like saying a tall man is more likely than a short man to bump his head on the moon.


2. voters make a mistake

Another hypothesis is that voters make a mistake, believing their act is efficacious although it really is not—a belief encouraged by turnout propaganda. But it is hard to believe that such a simple error would be so popular for so long.


3. voting is not very costly

A third hypothesis is that voting is not very costly - - or most people don’t find it so. True, we are a lazy species: we prize leisure. But for that very reason we forego little of value by voting. Besides, we are also a restless and gregarious species: sitting still in solitude often fails to please, however inconsequential the alternatives. Even so, this hypothesis identifies no positive payoff from voting. At most it helps explain voting.


4. links voting to acts of charity-we are inclined to be altruistic

A fourth hypothesis links voting to acts of charity: we are inclined to be altruistic, to help our fellows, to benefit society and not merely ourselves. True, but an inconsequential act benefits no one


5. disinclined to free ride

5. A better hypothesis is that we are disinclined to free ride: we feel it is unfair to profit from the efforts of others (those who share our political ideals) without pitching in ourselves.


6. voting=duty

popular hypothesis is that citizens see voting as their duty and receive some gratification from doing their duty. This hypothesis modifies the above rationality condition to say that voting is rational if and only if p x value of winning + D ≥ cost, where D is the gratification that comes from doing one’s duty.


7. investment and consumption value

A more general hypothesis is that the act of voting has not only investment value but also consumption value. This means that the act of voting is important not only because it helps the voter further his aims but also because he finds the act itself gratifying. Most of our acts have both investment and consumption value. Think of eating, sleeping, drinking, and procreating. A good job has both kinds of value: it supports you but you enjoy it too. Still this is a weak hypothesis because D is hard to measure, because it is hard to predict in advance whether D is great enough to spur voting, and because it is hard to tell thereby why some people vote while others do not.


Why would anyone spend time learning about the issues and candidates

In response, one might focus on the consumption value of learning about politics. This would suggest that newspaper editors who are interested in increasing their publications’ readership often have to resort to including juicy tidbits of gossip in articles about politics. Sensationalism is often the only way of getting people to read. It gives the act of reading more consumption value.


Similar Problems of Participation

One can also ask, Why contribute money? or Why join a party or interest group?
In both of these problems the logic is similar. You have to choose between participating and not participating (contributing money, joining a group, etc.). Your payoff from participating depends on what everyone else does. You are playing a game with everyone else who shares your interests. The game is a multi-player PD.

(see diagram-lecture 15)

This prisoner’s dilemma is in essence the septic-tank problem discussed in Hunk One.
The problem is that your action makes no difference. No matter what “everyone else” does – participate or not – you are always better off not participating, not contributing to the shared goal. Your incentive is to free-ride on the effort of others.


why it's hard to explain participation

1. participation is not like most other behavior: a single vote makes no difference. Yet a good explanation cannot imply that no one votes.
2. participation varies: some people participate and others do not. A good explanation of participation has to be able to account for variation: it cannot imply that everyone votes.


Who Votes?

Let us now take a different tack. Instead of asking why, let us ask who and examine the variation just remarked.
Initial studies of voting found that the rich were more likely to vote. Why would richer people vote more? Plausible reasons:
• They are more knowledgeable about politics.
• They have more time.
• They are more likely to have personal acquaintances running for office.
• They stand to lose more if election outcomes go against their preferences.
• They are less likely than poor people to feel alienated from the system.
• They feel more efficacious, or potent.
All these reasons were suggested, at one time or another, by students. Note that none mentions cost. Maybe that is as it should be: voting is not that costly. People like going out and doing things. They are generally not so lazy that the act of voting proves too cumbersome. Instead, people are gregarious and restless. They also like to talk about having done things. This observation, in combination with the fact that people do have a sense of civic duty, is a nice potential explanation.


who votes? according to political scientists

At first, political scientists thought along similar lines. They found that wealth or income was positively correlated with voting, thought that wealth drove (caused) voting, and considered some of the explanations just surveyed.
They were wrong. It was education, not income, that was the real cause of voting.
It turned out that the observed correlation between income and voting was spurious. Educated people voted more, and educated people tended to be richer. Therefore, income appeared to drive voting. In reality, when people with the same educational level were compared, their differences in income had scant effect on their likelihood of voting. Differences in income mattered only to the extent that they were associated with differences in education. But when people with the same income were compared, their likelihood of voting increased with their level of education.


Another example of spurious correlation:

When people wear warmer clothes, they catch more colds. Of course, it is not the wearing of warm clothes that’s causing the colds but of a third factor, cold weather, that’s causing both the colds and the wearing of warm clothes. Again, the more frequently people hire lawyers the more likely they are to go to prison. Are criminal suspects better off not hiring lawyers?


spurious correlation

A spurious correlation arises when two factors (such as income and voting) appear to be causally related but in fact are both caused by a third factor (education).
Although income may in some sense be an acceptable “explanation” – that is, knowing a persons’ income would help us to predict his likelihood of voting – education is a superior explanation. Education explains more of the variance we observe; if nothing else, it explains the differences we observe in the likelihood of voting among people who have the same income.


Thanks to various studies, we now know the following things about who is more likely to vote:

1. Income. We already discussed this. Greater income is associated with greater likelihood of
voting. BUT: the correlation is spurious, or noncausal.
2. Education. More educated people vote more than less educated people. Someone who has
completed grade school is about 8 percent more likely to vote someone who has not.
Someone who has completed high school is about 22 percent more like to vote than someone who has not. The difference in the likelihood of voting for a college graduate and someone with a graduate degree is not so great.
3. Age. The likelihood of voting is highest for people around 40 to 50 years old. It declines
on both sides of this peak: the very young and the very old are the least likely to vote.
4. Sex. When it comes to voting, men and women are similar until they reach 65 or so. After that, men are less likely to vote. Maybe men are less healthy - less mobile and more senile.
5. Marriage. Married people are more likely to vote than single people.
6. Mobility. The more mobile the person, the less likely he is to vote. This makes sense:
someone who moves knows less than others about local office holders and issues and the
jurisdiction in which he lives and must register, and every time he moves he cancels his
previous registration.
7. At first blush, race appears to have an effect on voting, but when one controls for such
other factors as education, its effect vanishes. A person’s race does not affect how likely he is
to vote.
8. Employment in the Public Sector. This makes quite a difference for voting. Public
employees are much more likely to vote than others, (83 vs. 65 percent). Maybe they know
more about public issues. Maybe they have a bigger stake in electoral outcomes. Or maybe
they more often get time off to vote.


Key points to remember:

: turnout (voting) is boosted by education, marriage, public
employment, and age, whereas race and income are spuriously correlated with voting.


Variations in Turnout

Turnout varies, not only among population groups, but over time and space. Turnout is: - -
• Lower since 1976. The onset of the decline in turnout coincides roughly with the time 18 year-olds were allowed to vote. (Test by looking at earlier expansions of the electorate.) It also coincides with the peak of disillusionment owing to Vietnam and Watergate. (Test by looking at earlier periods of turmoil.)
• Lower in the South (less than 50 percent). The South was traditionally a one- party region: Democrats dominated elections. Incumbents were rarely challenged, so there was little incentive to vote. Also, blacks were discouraged by such means as the poll tax and threats of violence. Now the South is no longer a one – party region. Even so, turnout remains relatively low, possibly out of habit. Also education has historically been greater in other regions.
• Lower in Congressional (“Midterm”) elections. These take place in the middle of the President’s term, when national awareness is lower and issues are not so salient.
• Lower in the US than in Europe. US: 50-60 percent. Europe: 75-90 percent


Why the difference between the U.S. and Europe? Some suggestions from students:

• Longer intervals between elections in Europe makes people more excited about voting.
• European countries usually have multiparty systems that make it easier for voters to find a party they like.
• Europeans are more civic-minded, have a stronger sense of duty.
• European countries have had a shorter experience with democracy, so they value it more.
• European political systems are more social-democratic than ours: government provides a strong “social” safety net for citizens and in general plays a far greater role in their lives. Thus, Europeans have more at stake during elections.
• Europeans pay more taxes and thus have a greater incentive to monitor their government.


More professional explanations of low turnout in the US: - -

1) Apathy
2) Hard to register. (Harder anyway than in Europe, where everyone is automatically
3) Mobile voters. Compared to others, Americans move around a lot. Thus it is less likely that they know or care much about local issues. Also residency requirements make registering in new places a bit harder than in Europe.
4) Mobile districts. Every 10 years, and sometimes more often, congressional districts change. To make matters worse, there are a great number of different kinds of districts (county, local, school board, etc.) that cut across each other and are also changing over time. It is confusing: you stand still while the electoral communities to which you belong keep moving.
5) Americans vote much more frequently and on many more issues and candidates. In the US, within the course of four years a voter typically has an opportunity to vote in many elections covering hundreds of issues and candidates. By comparison, Europe has few elections, and typically each election is about one office. So comparing turnout per election is misleading. A fairer test of turnout would compare European turnout with the percentage of US citizens who vote at least once in 4 years. Such a test for the period 1972-76 reveals that the turnout in Europe and the US is about the same: roughly 75 percent of eligible voters (and 95 percent of registered voters). In other words, comparing U.S. and European turnout is like comparing the food-consumption of cops and firemen in a town where firemen eat one or two big meals a day (which they cook) while cops eat quite a few smaller meals (at doughnut shops): do we compare average meal sizes or average daily consumption?


What Parties Do

• Parties are part of the legal apparatus of elections. Specifically, they are the legal vehicles for nomination. This is done either in primary elections (now the usual practice) or conventions (used in few states, but retained for presidential nominations). Of course, California now has the top-two system, based on nonpartisan primaries. Unlike European parties, US parties are decentralized, so that various party structures run the nomination processes at different levels: local candidates are nominated solely by local party members.
• Parties help recruit candidates and supporters.
• Parties raise money for campaigns. (Until the 1970s, US parties were the main source of campaign money.)
• Parties organize the electorate. Parties gather information on the electorate and nag party members and sympathizers in the electorate to vote for their candidate.
• Parties provide their members and aspiring candidates training and help with campaigns.
• Parties provide platforms. These are statements of a party’s position on different issues. Compared with European ones, US party platforms are far less binding on party members and candidates. US candidates feel less obliged to stay loyal to their party platforms. In the US, parties cannot exercise much control over their candidates’ behavior.
• Whipping. This refers to a party’s efforts in a legislature to coordinate information and direct action among members.
• In Congress, parties assign their share of members to committees, and the majority party picks chairmen. That often happens in state legislatures, too.
• The majority party pretty much controls the legislative agenda: nothing is voted on that the majority party solidly opposes.


Party Structure: Electoral Level

Parties organize elections at different levels: national, state, county, congressional district, other types of constituency (e.g. city council districts), and even voting precincts. At each level there is a distinct party structure. Statewide party organizations have a lot of autonomy. In effect, the structure of US parties is federal: there is a national party organization sitting atop a pyramid of lower-level but mostly autonomous party units.
At each of these levels there is pretty much the same set of actors: chairmen, committees, conventions (at national and state levels), and primary voters. (Depending on the state, voting in party primaries may be open only to a party’s registered members.) The National Chairman is appointed by the presidential nominee. The National Committee consists of a committee man and committee woman from each state (and territory), chosen by state convention.


Party Structure: Legislative Level

At the legislative level parties have leaders, and caucuses.
We turn now to consider a couple analytical questions: Why parties, and why only two?


Why 2 Parties? one explanation

One explanation is that state law usually recognizes only a Democratic and a Republican Party and gives them the right to hold publicly run and publicly financed primaries and conventions and to nominate candidates. To claim similar privileges a new party must first run candidates and secure a certain number of votes without enjoying those privileges: a high hurdle to jump. In effect, then, we have two parties because that is what state law encourages. For the most part, in the US, the law on the number of parties is very hard to change. Emerging parties are at a legal disadvantage.


But: Why do we have these state laws, this system? Why not zero parties or three or four parties?

? These questions seem even more appropriate if we remember that the Founders neither encouraged nor expected the emergence of parties.
A popular explanation of why we have only 2 parties is Duverger’s Law.


Duverger’s Law

-says that the combination of plurality rule and single-member districts (SMD) gives rise to a two-party system. Plurality rule, or the “first past-the-post” rule, says the candidate with the most votes (not necessarily a majority) wins. SMD means that only one person represents a district in a legislature. The combination of plurality rule and SMD supposedly leads to a two-party system because small parties have scant chance to get elected: acting strategically, voters are reluctant to waste their vote on new small parties that have almost no chance of winning.
-Although the most famous “law” in political science, DL is not a great hypothesis. It fails to explain the cases of Canada and South Korea and, recently, Britain: each has Plurality Rule and SMD but three or four major parties - - though usually only two strong parties battling it out in each district. Reasonably enough: within any one district the number of major parties is not likely to exceed 2, but it does not follow that this adds up to just two national parties. Nevertheless, DL is pretty popular among political scientists.


Why Parties?

H1: Parties are voting coalitions, big logrolls.
We saw the meaning of logrolling in an earlier example on food stamps and agriculture subsidies. Maybe parties are collections of people who in effect trade votes. One problem is that voting coalitions are hard to maintain (remember the PD) and do not last long, but parties do last long.
H2: Parties are long coalitions whose members roll the log for everything: they commit to voting together on every issue.
Example: see lecture 16


A party is...

a group that tries to stick together on most votes.


US Parties Compared to European Parties:

Generally US parties are Looser.
1. US parties are federal. In the US, parties are highly decentralized. Each state has its own party apparatus, officers, etc.
2. US parties have weak discipline. Their members do not always vote along party lines. This is due in part to the lack of centralization. However, over the past decade or two, our 2 parties have acted in a more disciplined way than in times past.
3. US parties have weak responsibility. This simply means that US parties are less accountable for their members’ actions in office. In the US (unlike Europe) party officials cannot say who may and may not join their party. US parties nominate candidates, but once in office those candidates often stray from the party line.
4. US parties have weak unifying ideologies. Often the most conservative Democrats take positions close to the most liberal Republicans.
5. In the US, there are only two major parties. Not so in continental Europe or much of Latin America.


Origins of US Parties

Origins of US Parties
Throughout most of our history we have had two major parties-left and right
-"left": agrarian, populist, expansionist, pro-slave
-"right": commercial, elitist, anti-expansionist, , anti-slave (or less pro-slave)


left vs right-history

LEFT-1790s: Republicans (Jefferson)- (This is not the same as today’s Republicans.) They organized politicians and voters outside of Congress. They wrote letters to state legislators encouraging them to nominate candidates as Republicans
RIGHT-1790s: Federalists (Hamilton): The base of their support was in Congress itself, but to some degree they emulated the opposition Republicans.
-1820: The Federalists disappeared or were absorbed into an almost all-inclusive Republican Party. This was the Era of Good Feeling. Also the Missouri Compromise of 1820 took slavery out of party competition for a while. Then the old Republican Party split nationally, and started to split locally.
LEFT-1828: “Democratic” Republicans (Jackson and Van Buren)
RIGHT-1828: "National” Republicans (Adams and Clay)
LEFT-1836: Democrats
RIGHT-Whigs (National Republicans enamed to reflect opposition to the “monarchy” of Jackson)
LEFT-1885-1960: Democrats split, North and South
RIGHT-Republicans formed from Northern Whigs and some N.Dems plus Minor parties (Free Soil and Know Nothings)
-1860s: civil war
-1880s: south solidly democratic, promoting segregation and states' rights
-1898: Republican realignment with election of McKinley. Republicans now a
-1932: F.D. Roosevelt gathers minorities in a coalition, among them white southerners, Catholics, more and more northern blacks, Jews, and blue- collar ethnics; Catholics had
long been Democrats. FDR makes famous deal with the South. The federal government
will not impose civil rights on the South but will give federal benefits to blacks. This deal married some northern blacks and the segregated South in one coalition.
Previously blacks were overwhelmingly Republican.
-1960s-2000: Mostly divided government: Congress one party (mostly Democrat), President the other (Republican).
-1980s-1990s: South becomes a 2-party region, like the rest of the country. Polarization begins to increase: less positional overlap between parties


US Parties Today

-The following are very rough, very old tendencies
-Democrats: liberal, blue collar, black, catholic or jewish, east and south, labor, pro-protection, 40% of population, less educated
-Republicans: conservative, white collar, white protestant, west, business, pro free trade, 30% of population, more educated
-The word “old” is important. President Reagan made great inroads for the Republicans into blue-collar and Catholic votes, and in your lifetime the once solidly Democratic South has become, if anything, a Republican stronghold.


Strategies for Democrats

Try to recapture and win big among labor unions and Roman Catholics. Try not to lose too badly in the South. (Traditionally, successful Democratic candidates for President have had strong support from Catholics and in the South.)


Strategies for Republicans

Try to win big among white Southerners. Try to split the support for Democrats among labor unions and Catholics.



Since 2008, Democrats have made impressive inroads into young, Latino, and female voters and various Asian groups. Will that hold up?
Besides “owning” different groups, Democrats and Republicans “own” different issues: voters see them as stronger on different issues.
Note that issue ownership refers to issues, such as foreign policy or health care, not to positions on issues, such as favoring an aggressive foreign policy or opposing compulsory health insurance.


How can one measure issue ownership-- the extent to wish an issue belongs to the Democrats or to the Republicans?

One way is to look, within any issue area, at the difference between the percent of the population who say Republicans are better at handling the issue and the percent who say Democrats are better. A positive difference would suggest Republican ownership while a negative number would suggest Democratic ownership of that issue. Also the greater the number, the more secure the ownership.
Whether a party owns an issue does not necessarily depend on that party’s particular position on that issue. Rather, issue ownership means having a reputation for being better at handling an issue.


which party is perceived to own the issue area of: the economy



which party is perceived to own the issue area of: Social and welfare (including education, environment, health care, social security)



which party is perceived to own the issue area of: Foreign affairs and defense



which party is perceived to own the issue area of: Social and moral issues



which party is perceived to own the issue area of: Crime and drugs.



When we ask different groups about who they think is better at what issue we find remarkable agreement.

Northern white Protestants favor Republicans overall but say that Democrats are indeed better in social and welfare policy.
Roman Catholics agree with others that Republicans are better than Democrats in foreign and defense matters but say that Democrats are much better than Republicans in social and welfare policy.
Similarly, white unionists agree that Republicans are better than Democrats in foreign and defense matters but say that Democrats are much much better than Republicans in social and welfare policy.
White Southerners (traditionally Democratic, now Republican) give Republicans particularly high grades on most issues but admit that Democrats are better than Republicans in social and welfare policy.
Jews generally give Republicans low grades on most issues, including the economy, but even they generally agree that Republicans are a better (if not by much) than Democrats in managing foreign and defense affairs.
Among blacks the perception that Republicans are better than Democrats in managing foreign and defense policy is less widespread; nevertheless, they agree that Republicans are much better than Democrats at fighting crime and drugs, and they rate Republicans better on foreign and defense issues than on most other issues.


ownership refers to....

the public’s perceptions and not necessarily to real differences in the two parties’ capabilities.


Issue ownership may help explain the fact that....

during the Cold War voters generally opted for a Republican president and a Democratic Congress. The President, after all, is commander-in-chief and chief diplomat, whereas Congress dictates social and welfare policy.


A consequence of issue ownership

in campaigns each party tries to make salient the issues that it owns. In other words, candidates emphasize the issues in which their party is thought to excel. Even if a candidate has some very good ideas, it does not serve his interests to emphasize an issue area that his party does not own. Emphasizing it makes it more salient, and that is likely to help the other party.
Advice to candidate: If your party owns an issue, strive to make it salient, to get it in the news and in debate with your opponent. If his party owns an issue, shut up about it (even if you have some good ideas).



They are bundles of issue positions thought to go together, usually with a rationale. We normally think that conservatives are against abortion, for gun rights, and against higher taxes. The fact that we sometimes refer to liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats shows that ideology is different from party.


Where does ideology come from? Three hypotheses:

a. Politicians/Parties
b. Intellectuals
c. Interest Groups


H1: Politicians/Parties

Politicians create ideology to say where a party stands. They bundle issues into an ideology to form winning coalitions. Danger: if circumstances change and it no longer serves your interest to favor a particular issue position, you can look stupid or lacking in integrity for changing your position.


H2: Intellectuals

They decide what issues go together by finding a common rationale. Politicians and voters follow their reasoning.


H3: Interest Groups

-Small groups who feel strongly, they shape ideology and parties. Example: unions and blacks joined unionism and civil rights together as an ideology out of their group interests. Interest groups bundle issues before politicians can.


ideology matters because....

it helps congeal preferences. A party almost forces members to stick together on all issues. But one can easily be a liberal on one issue, a conservative on another, and a moderate on yet a third, and some partisans are more liberal (or conservative) than others. Even so, conservatives (or liberals) on one issue are more likely than average to be pretty conservative (or liberal) on other issues.


Congressional elections.

The Senate has, as you know, two members from each state, elected for staggered six-year terms. But state representation in the House is proportional to a state’s population. For example, California, the largest state in population, has 53 representatives. House members - - Congressmen, as they are officially known - - are elected for two-year terms. Every 10 years, after the national census, representation in the House is evaluated and, if necessary, changed: the House is reapportioned.


Election outcomes depend not only on voting but on three procedural (or institutional) choices made by statute: - -

1. States pick the voting rule, including such things as whether or not there are party primaries, how residents can register to vote, etc. Nomination is usually in party primaries, although some states (e.g. Connecticut) have conventions and some (e.g. Louisiana and now California) forego partisan nomination altogether. California’s new system is a hybrid, the Top 2 System: a primary nominates the 2 candidates with the most votes, regardless of party label, even if one of the two has an out-and-out majority. This is a semi-partisan system: candidates can (and normally would) have party labels, and the top two face off in a general election even if one of them has received a majority of primary votes. By contrast, in a non-partisan California election, e.g. for mayor, there are no party labels, and a candidate receiving a majority at the first round of voting immediately wins the election: this is a second round, or runoff, only when no one wins the first round.
2. Congress picks the exact method of apportioning House seats among the states.
3. States decide their district maps – how they are to be divided into districts.


Elections in Each District

Usually party primaries take place to nominate the candidates, and then there is a general election. Each district elects one representative: we have (as we say) single-member districts. Usually the voting rule is Plurality Rule, or “first past the post”: the candidate with the most votes (not necessarily a majority) wins. Some states in the South are exceptions: if no one gets more than 50 percent they hold runoff elections. That applies to party primaries as well as general elections.


The main alternative to the single member district (SMD) system

party-list proportional representation, or List PR, which represents parties in proportion to their votes. Compared with legislators in other countries, U.S. congressmen rely less on their party affiliations and more on their personal records of service to their districts. In other words, in the US the vote for representatives is often more a personal vote than a partisan vote.


Presidential Elections

The process by which the President and VP are elected is an arcane one, which many Americans do not understand well.
Officially, the President and VP are not directly elected by the voters. Instead, voters vote for presidential electors (members of the “electoral college”), who then vote for the President and VP. Each state chooses (in any way it wishes) electors equal in number to the number of its House seats plus two. Up until the 1820s electors were chosen mostly by state legislatures; now all are chosen by popular vote. Every state but Main and Nebraska has adopted the winner-take-all rule: whichever presidential candidate (or slate of pledged electors) receives the most votes wins all of that state’s electoral votes. For example, in California if the Democrats get 40 percent of the popular vote, the Republicans 35 percent, the Tree Huggers 17, the Creationists 5, and the Flat Earth Party 2, then the Democrats get all 55 of California’s electoral votes.
Although states are free to choose any rule, with two exceptions all have opted for the winner-take-all rule, no doubt because this makes each state a greater prize for the candidates and encourages candidates to promise it more - - though it also encourages candidates to ignore states that already have a clear partisan majority (as the Democrats do in California).
Electors are pledged to vote for their party’s candidate. In each state each party picks its own slate of electors at its state convention. For example, in California the Democratic and Republican Parties each nominates 55 electors. Even though their names are not on the ballot, these are the people for whom voters actually vote on election day. A vote for Obama (Romney) was really a vote for the 55 Democratic (Republican) elector candidates who pledged, if elected, to vote for Obama (Romney). Whichever candidate has the greatest number of votes, his party’s electors are elected. They then cast their votes for him.
If there is a nation-wide majority among the electors for a candidate, then that candidate wins. If, however, there is no majority, then the House elects the President (from among the top three vote getters). Each state delegation casts one vote, so a candidate needs a majority of states to win. This occurred once, in 1824. If there is no majority, then the Senate elects the VP from the top two vote getters. This too occurred once, in 1836.
It is possible for a presidential candidate to get the most popular votes and still lose for want of a majority of electoral votes. That happened in 1888, 2000, and probably 1960.


Our presidential-election system has three sources:

1. The U.S. Constitution - - which creates the electoral-college system.
2. State law - - which says how electors are chosen, and, in particular, institutes both popular voting for electors and the winner-take-all rule.
3. Party rules combined with state law - - These require nomination by national convention and set up the primary or caucus system for choosing convention delegates pledged to particular candidates. Nowadays primaries and caucuses pretty much decide the outcome before the conventions, which are mostly formalities.


What else affects outcomes?



Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA)

FECA and later amendments and court decisions are the framework for the role of money.
The Federal Election Commission (created by FECA) polices money contributions in Federal campaigns;
Individual limits:
• $1000 to candidate
• $2000 to party
• $5000 to any political action committee, or PAC
• no limit on candidate giving to self
• no limit on “unaffiliated” groups (now including corporations and unions) supporting a candidate if they are independent: they cannot coordinate with the candidate’s own organization. To be tax-exempt they cannot focus their budgets too narrowly on campaigns.
Who benefits most from money? Incumbents. They can most easily create PACs and shake
down big donors.


Possible Problems of US Electoral System

1) Money plays a big role. This is true but its negative effects are almost certainly exaggerated. Over time, contribution limits have mostly helped incumbents of both parties.
2) Gerrymandering. This is the practice of drawing district lines to help the incumbent party maintain or increase its power. In most states (CA is now an exception) the party that controls the state legislature can draw lines so that the supporters of the other party are packed into one or few districts. They end up controlling those districts but waste a lot of votes in the process. (diagram in lecture 17)
3) Plurality Rule. Electing to office the candidate with the most votes, regardless of whether he has a majority of votes, may lead to anti-majoritarian outcomes. (example/diagram in lecture 17)


The ideas of prediction and explanation are...

intimately related. A good explanation is a retrospective prediction; a good prediction is a prospective explanation. It is hard to predict something without understanding the process driving it—the very thing we expect of a good explanation.


A model is...

a simplification of reality, or of the processes, mechanisms, and motivations underlying reality. It is an hypothesis that often oversimplifies things in order to get at the heart of how something works.


five models that predict the outcomes of presidential elections

1. Personal Characteristics of the Candidates
2. Party-Relative Advantages
3. Economy (retrospective voting)
4. Ideology (one-dimensional or median-voter model)
5. Electoral College Arithmetic


1. Personal Characteristics of the Candidates

. Ideally one could look at the personal characteristics of candidates to predict electoral advantages. No one has really been able to do this particularly well. Still it is important. At an impressionistic level it is obvious that voters who are not especially tied to a party look for an effective leader and problem solver, and for that they seek charisma and a record of success. It is not surprising that the modal prior job of our presidents has been governor—in a way the most similar job. Not counting vice presidents who succeeded on the death or resignation of a president, other presidents have mostly been generals and (in the early days) cabinet officers. Only four successful presidential candidates have lacked any executive experience, and three of them--Lincoln, Kennedy, and Obama- -were famously charismatic. At any rate, this model portrays voters (or a notable number of them) as personnel (or "human resource") managers who are more pragmatic than ideological in their measures of candidate competence.


2. Party-Relative Advantages

. Different parties enjoy different groups’ support and “own” different issues. Because voters use candidates’ party labels as informational cues about what to expect from them while in office, one can use the electorate’s party composition as a way of predicting election outcomes.
Traditional group assets support the following advice:
Democrats: Win big among labor unions and Catholics-- two of your very biggest traditional support groups, which have been drifting away as of late. Try not to lose too badly in the South -- once your very biggest support group.
Republicans: Win big among white Southerners and in the West (your traditional region of strength). Try to split Catholic and union vote.
In general, parties must retain the groups they traditionally “own” and try to make inroads into the other party’s supporters. Warning: Simple categories are too simple, and they change over time. Once virtually 100 percent Republican, blacks are now overwhelmingly Democratic. Among Latinos, Puerto Ricans tend to vote Democrat while Cubans consistently vote Republican. Among East Asians (the current liberal neologism “Asian” for people of the Mongoloid race evinces ignorance of geography), the Chinese were traditionally Republican, the Japanese Democratic. No more -- though the Vietnamese are heavily Republican.
The issue assets reviewed earlier are these: --
Democrats “own” social and welfare issues, e.g. health care, education, the environment.
Republicans “own” foreign and defense issues, morality, and crime.
Generally, a party will do well when the issues it owns are the most salient issues of the day and it is able to hold on to its traditional supporters’ support.


3. Economy (retrospective voting)

The rough idea is that the current state of the economy affects the approval rating of the President and the victory or defeat of the incumbent White House Party. Voters look back at economic performance under the President to form their opinions of him and, if he is not running for reelection, of his party’s candidate.
Gallup finds that presidential popularity moves with economic performance (however measured). When the economy is doing well, the President’s approval rating goes up, and when the economy is doing poorly, the President’s approval rating goes down. For example, in 1980 and 1984 Reagan enjoyed high approval ratings; but between those years the economy were in a deep recession and his approval ratings tanked. When the economy began to recover in 1984, his popularity soared in time for his reelection. Obama started off the same way. Did he end up in a similar position?
Presidents understand this connection well and hope to have recessions, if one is unavoidable, early in their terms so that they are over before the next election rolls around.
(diagram-lecture 18)

the connection between economic performance during a president’s four-year term and his party’s electoral success is weak. There is no uniform pattern. However, when we look at the connection between economic performance during the 9 months prior to the election and the incumbent party’s success, we see a strong relationship. The state of the economy in the 9 months leading up to an election explains (or predicts) all the election outcomes for the years considered here except 1960 and 2000. But in those two years the popular and electoral votes were both very close— virtual ties—and the incumbent party actually won the most popular votes in 2000 and probably in 1960 (when both parties were defeated by an insurgent “Democratic” slate in Alabama). Textbook writers and journalists carelessly assume that Kennedy won Alabama and with it the nationwide vote. So the state of the economy during the half year or so before the election does a remarkably good job predicting the popular vote. If we go back before WWII, the only clear exception is 1936, when FDR was reelected at the height (or depth?) of the Great Depression.


The Retrospective Economic Voting Model

It is as if voters are voting in a referendum on the current direction (not the state) of the economy


How could this be true when so many voters are concerned about so much more?

The answer is that there may be a pivotal or swing group of voters (a few million) who are voting as if in a referendum on the direction of the economy. Probably most voters stick with their long-standing party preferences. The swing voters can magnify their efficacy.


Do people vote on the basis of their personal economic well-being, or on that of the economy as a whole? In other words, do people vote their pocketbooks?

We don’t quite know the answer to this question


Because the economy plays such a big role in influencing election outcomes, is there anything that an incumbent can do? Can an incumbent president who is presiding over a weak economy get himself reelected? Can a challenger unseat a president who is presiding over a strong economy?

The evidence presented in the table above suggests there is not much that can be done. Romney may have campaigned poorly compared with Obama, but the weak economy was (slowly) recovering.



In 1992 both the US and Britain were in an economic recession. In the US, the incumbent, Bush the Elder, lost, while in Britain the incumbent, Conservative Prime Minister John Major, won, if not by much. How do we explain this? Why are US voters more likely than their British counterparts to vote on the economy? One answer may be that in the US, because of the separation of powers and the fragmented nature of government, the President cannot dictate policy and voters know that. Because there are so many actors on the stage, it is hard for voters to judge policy or attribute responsibility. But in Britain the PM has the power and responsibility (accountability) virtually to dictate policy. So British voters can more easily vote on policy while Americans must fall back on retrospective referendum voting - - on following the simple norm of cheering or booing the way things are.
In 1994 House Speaker Newt Gingrich ran like a PM. He drew up a “Contract with America” in which, much like a PM, he outlined the policies which he was committed to implementing. He made the election a referendum on those policies. The Republicans captured Congress for the first time since the 1920s.
If US presidents were to run for office as PMs do in Britain, they would put together a package of policies that they would promise to implement if elected and make the election a referendum on those policies rather than the state of the economy. FDR did this, but it hasn’t been done much since then because Republican presidents and presidential candidates have been able to use their reputation as good foreign policy managers and Cold Warriors to win office. They have not had to make the kinds of extensive commitments to the voters that a PM has to make. “Nine Eleven” may have reinforced that pattern. But as the war on terrorism fades into history, presidential candidates may start to run like PMs. Such a trend would bring with it greater partisan behavior and greater accountability. The President would need greater party discipline to deliver on his promises and would assume greater responsibility in the eyes of voters for carrying out his proposed program. The partisan polarization we see and flap our jaws about today may be a step in the direction of more responsible government.


4. Ideology (one-dimensional or median-voter model)

According to this model, every voter has a favorite point on the liberal-conservative continuum and votes for the candidate closest to that point.
In a two-party or two-candidate election under majority rule, the two parties would race to match the policy preferences of the median voter. That is to say, they would try to align their policies with the preferences of the voter whose place on the one-dimensional spectrum is such that no more than a half of the voters are on either side of him. Suppose candidate Libby is closer to the median voter than candidate Conny. Then Libby is closer to a majority - - to the median plus those on the right. So they would vote for Libby unless Conny moved closer. The result: a race to the center - - the median voter’s position.


4. ideology-Consequence of the race to the center

Each candidate tries to get closer to the median than the other candidate.
The median tends to be “fair’ in the sense that it is preferred to every other policy by a majority. No majority has a favorite spot on either side of the median. The median is a Condorcet winner.


4. ideology-Lessons for Candidates:

1) Mobility: move toward the median. (Clinton did this after 1994, and to some extent so did Obama in 2012.)
• Conscience: The candidate may not want to change his positions.
• Commitment: The candidate may have won his party’s primary by committing himself to certain policy positions, and he cannot drop them at general-election time.
• Credibility: The candidate may not want to harm his reputation for keeping his word and sticking to his principles by appearing fickle.
2) Persuasion: Pull the median towards you: get voters to change their minds.
3) Sling mud: Push your opponent away from the median.


4. ideology-All this tells you:

1) Candidates will tend to end up close together.
2) Candidates who cannot or will not move (like Barry Goldwater in 1964) will probably
3) US parties move together.


4. ideology-the result:

an appearance of no real competition: candidates take similar positions, near the median voter. But remember: it was competition that made them race to the median--much as competition makes producers in any market race to charge the same (rather low) price.


What if there were three Candidates?

The Ideological or Median Voter Model works well for two candidates, but not for three.
A third-party candidate on the left hurts Democrats, as Ralph Nader hurt Al Gore in 2000. One on the right hurts Republicans, as Ross Perot hurt George H. W. Bush in 1992. Even so, a clever enough candidate can exploit the one-dimensional structure by breaking my simple “rules,” remaining immobile, and luring a third candidate into the race. In the 1858 Illinois Senate race, Lincoln (Republican) exposed Douglas (Democrat) to be more anti-slavery than he had admitted by asking him repeatedly during their still-famous debates whether Western settlers could somehow ban slavery despite Dred Scott. Yes, Douglas conceded, in effect moving leftward. That infuriated the South, which split the Democratic party in 1860 by nominating John C. Breckenridge for President, in opposition to Lincoln and Douglas. That split, so cleverly engineered by Lincoln, made Lincoln the victor.


5. Electoral College Arithmetic

There were (and probably will be in 2016) ten battleground (or swing) states. For 2016, I would exclude 2 and 6:
1. Florida (29)
2. Pennsylvania (20)?
3. Ohio (18)
4. Virginia (13)?
5. Colorado (9)
6. North Carolina (15)?
7. Wisconsin (10)
8. Iowa (6)
9. Nevada (6)
10. New Hampshire (4)
They yield 130 electoral votes. The rest were solidly of one party, giving Romney 191 votes and Obama 217. Thus Romney needed 78 of those contested votes, Obama only 52. Better yet for Obama: all 10 of those states had voted for him in 2008.

Also, one must retail one’s campaign pitch.


Mayhew Congress: The Electoral Connection

-politicians are primarily motivated by electoral incentives-everything works to advance their reelection chances
-some actions they take to improve chances at reelection
-credit claiming
-members of congress try to convey the idea they they're fighting for their district in particular-and they have the political power to help improve the life of their constituents
-announce and celebrate federal legislation directed towards their district
-other legislative engagement within district
-commencement speeches, speeches to diff orgs
-case work (aka constituency services/work-this is in some ways its own category, sometimes considered under credit claiming)
-Resolve problems of constituents with some form or object of the bureaucracy-especially for the 10% of voters that are true independents-if get personally helped by a candidate (and party?), will likely vote for them in all future campaigns
-position taking
-in speeches, e-newsletter
-sometimes members of congress say different things to different groups
-advertising: reelection campaign
-a little different because explicitly campaigning-the others take place on a daily basis to try to improve their vote-targets all constituents and special focus on swing voters-while reelection campaigns often targets diff types of people
-these all work to build a personal vote for a representative
-personal vote: when a politician expands the vote that they receive beyond the loyal party supporters-get people who are politically dependent, not tuned into politics, loosely identified with another party



-diff types of constituents within a district
-model laid out based on concentric rings of supporters within a district
-the entire circle is the electoral district
-center: personal staffers
-next ring: party supporters
-will support the party candidate in all general elections
-but in primary-may not if lost support of a good amount of their party supporters by not matching their party-so incentive to introduce bills, vote for things know won’t pass, just to please base-incentive to follow party
-next ring: general supporters
-aim for these to build personal vote-people vote for candidate as person and not just party member
-expand their support to include loose party identifiers and independents
-if have a majority of these, almost always enough to win for however long they want to be in Congress
-outer ring: non-supporters
-only way to get their support is to lose the last 2 rings-so often can’t do this, ignore for primary


Survey Experiment

-how do electoral incentives influence level of partisanship in congress
-2 results:
-classic tradeoff see a lot in polisci-trade-off in what the public say they want at macro level vs micro level-what they want in general and what they want in their specific situation
-macro: public wants compromise between 2 parties in congress-want them to work together to pass legislation-tired of the gridlock
-micro: but people less likely to vote for representative for reelection if compromising on legislation for other party
-so want Congress to compromise in general but don’t want own member of congress to compromise
-Congress responding more to these micro needs-not much of an incentive to ever compromise-because want to be reelected
-all these micro decisions lead to macro effect of no one compromising


James Key Wilson-Bureaucracy

-recommendations on what someone who is designing a bureaucracy would do-not important for the test
-the main point of the rest of it is: people love to complain about how the bureaucracy is slow to update rules, unresponsive to both congress and general public in terms of how they feel about it-a lot of independents in terms of agencies-congress and president kind of have control over these bureaucratic orgs, but not a lot
-yes, that’s bad-but if going to design a bureaucracy that didn’t have those elements, would create a system that was worse
-don’t want bureaucracy where every time new power in president or congress, completely changes rules, structure, mission-would change to extreme instability in business, politics
-good that there is inertia, lag in how public opinion vs bureaucracy changes


Draw a gerrymandered state using a chart.

(memorize chart)


Be able to apply a decision tree with killer amendment + supporting amendment + why people voted the way they did (sincere, strategic, etc.)

(memorize chart)


A poll taken during a presidential-election year finds that most Americans see international conflict as the chief Problem facing the US. If that is all you knew about the circumstances of the campaign, which party would you bet on?
a. If you favored the other party, what would you urge its candidate not to say much about in the campaign?
b. And what issues would you urge him to emphasize again?

a. Avoid talking about Foreign Policy.
b. Economics,education, social issues.


For an anti-crime bill to become law, what must happen after different versions have passed the House and Senate (but before anything is submitted to the President)?

1. The bill goes to the House-Senate conference committee, where it is consolidated into one bill that both chambers approve of.
2. It is then put to an up-or-down vote


Briefly define proportional representation.

The % of votes a party receives determines how many seats that party gets.


What political pressure would Congress face if it regulated the money supply itself?
a. How does Congress avoid this problem?

It would receive political pressure to manipulate the system, like printing money out in an unregulated manner and causing inflation
a. Congress took a hands-off approach and gave the power of regulating money to the Federal Reserve.


In terms of required Congressional action, distinguish: treaties



In terms of required Congressional action, distinguish: Pure executive agreements

No Congressional action required


In terms of required Congressional action, distinguish: Congressional-executive agreement

3/5 majority


Congressional Committees enjoy a great deal of power within their assigned jurisdictions.

State two plausible explanations of this observation.

Committees are smaller than the total house so each vote matters more. Committees are experts in their assignments, at least theoretically.


What were the two major parties in

a. 1800

b. 1820

c. 1840

d. 1884

e. 1890

f. 1900

a. Republicans, Federalists
b. mostly just 1 big party-All-Inclusive REPUBLICAN party.
c. Democrats, Whigs
d. Democrats, Republicans
e. Democrats, Republicans
f. Democrats, Republicans


Us Reps. Gilligan, Goldberg, Gonzales, Garibaldi, Gamal, Gandhi, an Gablonski reach an agreement to support bills providing foreign aid to Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Italy, Egypt, India and Poland, even though each of them favors only one of these bills. What is their agreement called?



What two things does the House Rules Committee do with a bill?

decides which bills to debate and how long the debate should be.


Does anyone do either of these things in the Senate? Which things?
a. Who does them?

The Senate Majority leader decides which bills to debate but can’t dictate how long debate should run
a. Senate Majority leader.


What type of oversight does Congress engage in when it holds oversight hearings?

Police Patrolling Oversight


What must happen after a presidential veto?

2/3 vote by both houses of Congress.


Today’s congressional committee chairmen belong to which party?



Three candidates- a liberal, a moderate, and a conservative contest an election. Each is supported by a minority, the liberal by the largest minority. Who wins under Plurality rule?



Who is the likely Condorcer winner? Who, in other words, is probably preferred to every other candidate by a majority of voters? Explain.

Moderate-because gets support of party and some of other


Why, in 1977, did rural congressmen representing very few poor people vote for food stamps?

In 1977 Congress tied food stamps and farming subsidies to the same Congressional committee and to the same bill, enforcing cooperation.


What is an entitlement program?

A program that provides cash, commodities or services to all qualifying low-income individuals or households.
ex: social security. It is immune from the annual budget appropriations


For Congress to spend money, it most cases it must pass three types of bill. What are they?

Appropriations, authorization, Tax or Borrow


Draw a decision tree for a killer amendment.

(memorize tree)


The more wealthy you are, the more likely you are to vote. Still, wealth per se has little direct effect on whether you vote. Explain.

It is better correlated with education, which is also correlated with wealth.


If Congressmen are motivated by the reelection incentive, what general kinds of activity, according to the readings, lectures, and discussions, can we expect them to engage in? Name two.

Case-work, and credit claiming.


Name two things that the Senate alone gets to vote on.

Treaties and Cabinet appointments.


Why are House-Senate conference committees so powerful?

They combine the House and Senate versions of a bill and then send them back to both houses for up or down vote.


Although Libertarians love A, they voted against A. Why would they have done that?

They could be voting strategically, avoiding a greater evil or towards a greater good.


It is 2016 and Obama cannot run again. Hillary Clinton is running against Republican John Kasich of Ohio. Unemployment and inflation have been well above average (terrible) during most of Obama’s term, though well below average (good) by election year. Who would you bet to win the 2016 election?

Hillary Clinton.


Briefly, why is voting hard to explain as a rational gain?

It is hard to explain as a rational gain because there is a very, very small percentage of that one vote making a difference.


When there are two main parties and they offer voters pretty much the same policies, does that not reflect the absence of effective electoral competition or real democracy? Explain.

No, both parties try to get the median votes so both candidates become extremely moderate.


What type of oversight does Congress engage in when it holds oversight hearings?
a. When it responds to Complaints?

Police Patrolling Oversight
a. Fire Alarm Oversight


After OMB submits its budget, Congress passes the ____________ Resolution. After passing regular bills, Congress passes the ___________ Resolution and possibly one or more _________ acts to resolve discrepancies.

First concurrent
second concurrent
continuing resolutions


The Fiscal year begins when?

October 1 st


What is a continuing resolution?

A temporary budget to keep the government running past October 1 st .
when congress keeps passing new budget resolutions when the official budget isn't ready yet in order to have guidelines for revenue, authorization, and appropriation bills


What two things does the House Rules Committee do with a bill?
a. Does anyone do either of these things in the Senate? Which things? Who does them?

Decides which bills will be debated and how long debate will be.
a. The majority leader decides which bill will be debated but there is no limit to debate or amendments in the Senate.


Explain the difference between authorization and appropriations bills?

Authorization bills establish executive units, their actions and powers. Appropriation bills allot money, decide which funding executive units will receive, and must be renewed each year.


Assuming the President has received a bill from Congress. Describe the three ways it can become a law.

1. He signs it.
2. He doesn’t sign it for 10 days.
3. He vetoes and then it is overridden by 2/3 in both houses.


For a deficit-reduction bill to become law, what two things must happen after different versions have passed the House and Senate (but before anything is submitted to the President)?

There must be a conference committee, and then both houses must pass it again through an up or down vote.


In Congress, what is a party caucus?

All members of a party in that house of Congress meet once a year to elect party leaders, appoint committee on committees, appoint policy committee, and decide ranking chairmens.


How does the War Powers Act of 1973 limit presidential powers?

A President must notify congress with 48 hours of sending troops overseas. He then has 60 days to gain congressional authorization, and sans that he must return the troops within 30 days.


What is a filibuster?
a. How big a vote is required to end one?

A speech given in the Senate in order to delay discussion or a vote on a particular topic.
a. 3/5 of the Senate, or cloture (60 votes).


To tell whether Congress effectively controls the bureaucracy, is it enough to find out whether Congress frequently penalizes officials and agencies?
a. Why or why not?

No. This is the observational equivalence problem. When congress isn't penalizing agencies frequently, it could mean that they are finding no mistakes and doing a good job, or missing mistakes and doing a bad job.
Ex. Empty jail cell


Briefly define a single member district.

A district in which one representative serves in the legislative body (as in the US House of Reprsesentatives).


Of the following three traits, underline those, if any, that increase the likelihood of voting:

married, less than 24 years old, college graduate.
underline married and college grad!!!!


List the titles of

a. Presiding Officer of the House

b. Political Leader of the House

c. Political leader of the Senate

d. Presiding Officer of the Senate

a. Speaker of the House
b. Speaker of the House
c. Senate Majority Leader
d. President of the Senate (VP or Pro Tem)


For a cap-and- trade bill to become law, what must happen after different versions have passed the House and Senate (but before anything is submitted to the President)?

a. And what must happen after a Presidential veto?

Must pass through a Joint Conference Committee, and then pass both Houses of Congress through an up or down vote.
a. 2/3 Majority in both houses.


The creation and expansion of the Executive Office of the President has accompanied a decline in the importance of what other executive body?

Agencies and Executive branches.


Today, according to the 12th Amendment and state laws, how is the president elected from among party nominees?

State laws determine how electors are chosen (typically by popular vote) to create the Electoral College. Chosen electors are pledged to vote for the presidential candidate whom the majority of the state wants.


Which of these can the President fire: Attorney General, Chairmen of the Federal Reserve Board, the Vice President?

He can fire the Attorney General.


What, in general, is the relation between the economy and presidential elections?

If the economy is strong, the party in power will stay in power.


List three sources of ideology:

Parties, Intellectuals, Interest-groups.


Who impeaches?
a. Who elects the President when the Electoral College does not?
b. Who ratifies treaties?

House is the grand jury, Senate is the petit jury.
a. The House.
b. Senate


Briefly describe the plurality rule:

the person who gets the most votes, not necessarily the majority of votes, out of all the candidates wins


Give an example of an entitlement program.

Social Security.


How many electoral votes does California have?



What is a continuing resolution?

when congress keeps passing new budget resolutions when the official budget isn't ready yet in order to have guidelines for revenue, authorization, and appropriation bills


In which chamber of Congress can a person or body limit debate and amendments?

In the House, the rules committee limits debate and amendments. In the Senate, the Majority leader can limit.


Under what circumstances might the President prefer to treat an agreement as a congressional-executive international agreement rather than a treaty?

If he doesn’t think he can get 2/3 of the Senate vote but he thinks he can get a majority in both houses.


Dates aside, what is the sequence of decisions – always three and sometimes a fourth –that Congress is supposed to take each year to pass a budget?

1. Submit 1st concurrent budget resolution
2. Pass authorization and appropriation bills
3. pass 2nd concurrent budget resolution act
4. if needed- will do a reconciliation act- if there is a new proposal


What is meant by divided government?

A government where Congress is run by one party and the President is from a different party.


Why did Governor Romney take hard conservative positions during primary debates, but take more moderate positions during his debates with President Obama?

During the

general election, candidates pivot to the middle in order to appeal to more voters in

the middle of the aisle.


The Presidents party is not likely to win reelection if there is abnormally high inflation or unemployment during what period?

Nine months before the election.


As of today, how are California’s electoral votes allocated between competing candidates?

Winner take all.


To how many presidential electors is a state entitled?

their number of representatives plus 2.


Congressional committees enjoy a great deal of power within their assigned jurisdictions. State two plausible explanations of this observation.

part 1) Congressional committees are smaller so each vote matters more.
part 2) & also because the Congressmen of these committees are experts in what they do and therefore are given power to do whatever they deem best.


GOP “Owns” Certain Issues:

1. Economy

2. Foreign Affairs and Defense

3. Fighting Crime

4. Promoting “Morality”


Democrats “Own” Certain Issues:

1. Social and Welfare Issues

2. Education

3. Healthcare

4. Environment


A Brief History of Congress

19th Century: Congress strong! President weak! Committees created!

Late 19th Century: Congress, and House especially, run by one strong leader who controlled committee assignments and legislative agendas! ABSOLUTE MONARCHY.

1910: This, obviously, led to a revolt. People in America are not about that monarchy life. Created a more decentralized system with more power to committee chairmen. FEUDALSYSTEM.

1970s: “Subcommittee Bill of Rights” – more power to subcommittees. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC. House and Party caucuses gained control over chairmanships and scheduling.

1994: Republicans further decentralized shit, limited the terms of chairman.



passing a budget timeline

January: Acting for POTUS, the OMB prepares a comprehensive executive budget proposal.

February 15 th : The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) prepares a report on POTUS’ proposal. Questions the assumptions about economic growth, unemployment, etc. Supposed to be nonpartisan and designed by economists.

February 25 th : The legislation-writing committees can make reports about the relevant areas of the budget.

April 1: House and Senate Budget Committees then make a report that tweaks POTUS’ original proposal.

April 15: First Concurrent Budget Resolution is supposed to pass Congress. NOT A BILL, only a resolution that won’t be submitted to POTUS for signature. It’s a guide for the subsequent revenue, authorization, and appropriation bills.

September: Second Concurrent Budget Resolution, reflects all of the new appropriation and revenue bills passed over the summer. The comprehensive budget is revised. Reconciliation bill typically must be passed in order to conform the new budget resolution. Addresses everything in one fell swoop, and are not subject to new amendments or filibuster.

October 1 st : Start of the new fiscal year.

This is what is supposed to happen. It never does. Things change, deadlines are missed,continuing resolutions are passed, and sometimes we just never get a budget.

In 1980, Reagan enhanced Presidential power by refusing to accept the budget of the previous fiscal year and drafted a sweeping new budget, demanding the Congress pass it as a “reconciliation act”. Obama did a similar thing with his healthcare bill.


Credit Claiming

Takes credit for anything the government does for his district.


position taking

Will vote symbolically just to prove he’s on the right side of an issue.



Congressmen help their constituents in two important ways: they advocate for pork, or money allocated to their district’s improvement projects, and casework, which are typical constituent services.



Shared incentive among Congressmen, or “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.


Legislative Strategy:

Sincere Voting: Votes the way he feels no matter what.

Strategic Voting: He may vote against an option he likes in order to accomplish something

further or to avoid a greater evil: he looks ahead and bases his choice of how to vote on the

consequences rather than the content of alternative votes.

Cooperative Voting: Here he makes a deal with others to trade votes or logroll, and he sticks

with the deal.



– without Congressional authorization, President must notify Congress within 48 hours of troop deployment overseas, and after that he has 60 days to secure Congressional authorization or bring the troops home. Without consent, he has 30 days to bring them home. There are some serious constitutionality questions because every President basically ignores it (Bush I, Bush II, Clinton, Obama).


How the Fed Controls the Money Supply

1. Lends money to banks and sets interest rates

a. If it lowers interest rates or lends to banks liberally, then money becomes cheaper,

2. Sets reserve ratio

a. Changes the amount of money it requires banks to keep in cash reserves, spurring the economy but creating inflation. Increasing this “reserve ratio” reduces the amount of money the banks can lend. That reduces the money supply in the system.

3. Conducts Open market operations

a. Buys and sells government bonds.


Divurger’s Law

plurality rule and SMD gives rise to the two party system


For congress to spend your money, it must pass 3 types of a bill. What are they (one word for each)?

revenue, authorization, appropriation


How are California's electoral votes allocated between the competing candidates

because of the "winner-takes-all" rules, democrats get all the electoral votes since they win the popular vote


What 2 things does the House Rules Committee do with a bill?
a. Does anyone do either of these things in the Senate?

1. decides what bills will be discussed
2. decides how long bills will be discussed
a. The majority of the leader decide what bills to discuss but there is no time limit


Why in 1977 did rural congressman, who represented very few poor people, vote for food stamps?

There was a coalition with urban congressmen, who promised they would vote for agricultural subsidies.
This was a cooperative vote between the 2, called logrolling, which avoided a cooperation problem


Today, House committee chairmen belong to which party?

Republican (they are the house majority)


When the house and the senate pass different versions of a bill, what 2 things must happen before the bill, or some version of it, it sent to the White House?

1. A House-Senate Conference Committee is held in order to reach an agreement among the 2 houses.
2. It it put on an up-or-down vote


What is the sequence of actions that Congress rakes to enact an annual budget?

1. First Concurrent budget
2. Second concurrent budget
3. modification are made by a reconciliation act


Congressional committees enjoy a lot of power within their assigned jurisdictions. State 2 plausible explanations of this observation

1. congressional committees are smaller and each individual vote counts more and then influences policy more in their jurisdiction.
2. committee members are experts in their jurisdictions so others defer to that expertise, giving them power


The creation and expansion of the Executive Office of the President has accompanied a decline in the importance of what other executive body?

Departments and agencies


Today, congressional committee chairmen belong to what committee? Republican or democrat

Democrat (committee chairman belong to the majority party)


Fill in black with "House" or "Senate" or "both"
____ impeaches
____ elects President when Electoral College does not
____ ratifies treaties
____ passes laws
____ confirms judicial appointments .

House impeaches
House elects President when Electoral College fails
Senate ratifies treaties
Both pass laws
Senate confirms judicial appointments


List 3 sources of ideology:

1. political parties
2. intellectuals
3. interest groups


fire alarm oversight

Those who were hurt by the wrongdoings of a bureaucracy can complain and then congress will rectify it, instead of doing police patrol oversight


police patrol oversight

when congress takes a sample of bureaucratic actions and sees if they are doing their job or not. If not, there is punishment and correction


a. What person or body schedules bills for debate and voting in the House?
b. and in the senate?
c. In which chamber can that person or body limit debate and amendments?

a. Rules committee
b. Majority and minority leaders
c. House


Why is voting hard to explain as a rational act?

Most people follow their parents' voting preferences.
Also, the probability that a single vote affects the is small (1/100000). The cost of voting outweighs the benefit of a candidate winning because of your one vote


Difference between authorization and appropriation of bills

- An authorization bill creates administrative and executive units, its programs, and its powers
- An appropriation bill gives the administrative units money to do their job. It is renewed annually and can be cut to end a certain program


Who can the president fire?
- Attorney general, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Vice President

Attorney General


When there are only 2 candidates and they offer pretty much the same policies, does that mean the absence of real electoral competition?

This actually happens because of competition. The 2 candidates are trying to get median votes to help them win so they try to make their policies appeal to this group and end up offering the same policies