What are the root causes of the rivalry between Congress and the president?
- 1. Constitutional design and separation of powers
- 2. Different electoral bases
- 3. Interest groups and American pluralism
- 4. Varying terms of office
- 5. Permanent election campaign
- 6. Polarization of congress
What is the principal agent dilemma and what problems arise from it?
We pick agents to act for us but these agents are independent actors with their own interests as well. In politics, if we do get the agent to act in the interest of the principal, then there is the problem that agents act solely for reelection and not actually policy outcomes.
- 1. Adverse selection problem-an agent that doesnt look out for your interests and lies
- 2. Moral hazard- when a party takes undue risks because the consequences are borne by someone else
These are all issues of assymetrical information so the solution is monitoring.
How does the Constitutional design create the separation of powers?
- The institutional frameworks were created to promote gridlock
- 1. President has the power to choose cabinet, but senate majority must agree
- 2. Legislative and veto powers
- 3. Power of the purse: spending and taxing are responsibilities of congress
- 4. Veto and bargaining power; impeachment
- 5. Congress can turn down presidential nominees and treaties
- 6. agencies are both agents of the president and congress
- 7. Difficult to amend the consititution
- 8. Selection method for actors different
How did polarization of parties begin?
- 1. Northern (more liberal) Republicans moved South and African Americans who gained civil rights voted Democrat
- 2. Extreme Dixiec-crat Democrats were no longer elected to office because of more liberal democrats; the party as a whole became more moderate.
- 3. Districts became more homogenous leading to safer seats and reelection by larger margins
What is the median voter theorem and possible disagreements?
Presidents are self-seeking and therefore need the public's approval for their policies and performance to be successful (Wood). Thus, they should not stray too far from the political center, or median voter. This maximizes their political support. Studies have shown that presidential policy stances are very responsive to the political center. Others argue modern presidents cater to the median voter only when they need to. Presidents often face a tradeoff between public opinion and partisan policy goals. They can also pursuade the public towards their own policy goals, as was seen from 1795-1796 in Washington's attempt to secure funding for the Jay Treaty.
- 1. Reality of polarization--number of moderates are decreasing in party chambers, why?
- 2. Assumptions: unimodal, competition for prez after election, people in center care about politics
- 3. need for public approval varies with public opinion
- 4. Exogenous constraints on policies president can enact
- 5. President's view of whats best for the nation is different from citizens views
- 1. Veto
- 2. Judiaciary and Executive appointments
- 3. Budget process
- 4. Presidential Approval
How do you expect House and Senate to act differently?
- Institutional differences and electoral differences
- 1. State legislatures redistrict for representatives-so party of state legislature usually gets majority of reps, equal population
- 2. Majority politics in House
What influences outcomes in elections?
- 1. Incumbents: most elections involve incumbents, most people view their representatives positively even when they view the house or senate negatively, positive records, bais from districts, legislation positions, dont know challengers to incumbents, harder to get voters to change position.
- 2. Homogenity of districts/constituents
- 3. Visibility