In the past thirty years, Congress has dramatically changed its response to unpopular deficit spending. While the landmark Congressional Budget Act of 1974 tried to increase congressional budgeting powers, new budget processes created in the 1980s and 1990s were all explicitly designed to weaken member, majority, and institutional budgeting prerogatives. These later reforms shared the premise that Congress cannot naturally forge balanced budgets without new automatic mechanisms and enhanced presidential oversight. So Democratic majorities in Congress gave new budgeting powers to Presidents Reagan and Bush, and then Republicans did the same for President Clinton.
Passing the Buck examines how Congress ...Read More
After more than two hundred years in the shadows of Washington and Jefferson, John Adams enjoys fame as one of our top presidents. Of unprepossessing appearance and feisty temperament, he expressed his personal feelings in copious correspondence and public documents along with two unfinished autobiographies.
Paul M. Zall draws from Adams’s own letters, diaries, notes and autobiographies to create a fresh portrait. Adams’s writings, both public and private, trace his rise from country lawyer to the nation's highest office by the sheer force of his personality. Lacking the advantages of money, connections, class, or patronage, Adams used “the severest and ...Read More
“People may choose to ignore their animal heritage by interpreting their behavior as divinely inspired, socially purposeful, or even self-serving, all of which they attribute to being human, but they masticate, fornicate, and procreate, much as chimps and apes do, so they should have little cause to get upset if they learn that they act like other primates when they politically agitate, debate, abdicate, placate, and administrate, too.”—from the book
King of the Mountain presents the startling findings of Arnold M. Ludwig’s eighteen-year investigation into why people want to rule. The answer may seem obvious—power, privilege, and perks—but any adequate ...Read More
David Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s budget director, proclaimed the Small Business Administration a “billion-dollar waste—a rathole,” and set out to abolish the agency. His scathing critique was but the latest attack on an agency better known as the “Small Scandal Administration.” Loans to criminals, government contracts for minority “fronts,” the classification of American Motors as a small business, Whitewater, and other scandals—the Small Business Administration has lurched from one embarrassment to another.
Despite the scandals and the policy failures, the SBA thrives and small business remains a sacred cow in American politics. Part of this sacredness comes from the agency’s longstanding ...Read More
An intriguing phenomenon in American electoral politics is the loss of seats by the president's party in midterm congressional elections. Between 1862 and 1990, the president's party lost seats in the House of Representatives in 32 of the 33 midterm elections. In his new study, James Campbell examines explanations for these midterm losses and explores how presidential elections influence congressional elections.
After reviewing the two major theories of midterm electoral change-the "surge and decline" theory and the theory of midterms as referenda on presidential performance Campbell draws upon each to propose and test a new theory. He asserts that in ...Read More
What best defines a Democrat in the American political arena—idealistic reformer or pragmatic politician? Harry Truman adopted both roles and in so doing defined the nature of his presidency.
Truman and the Democratic Party is the first book to deal exclusively with the president’s relationship with the Democratic party and his status as party leader. Sean J. Savage addresses Truman’s twin roles of party regular and liberal reformer, examining the tension that arose from this duality and the consequences of that tension for Truman’s political career.
Truman saw the Democratic party change during his lifetime from a rural-dominated minority party ...Read More
The 1994 elections represented a watershed year for southern Republicans. For the first time since Reconstruction, they gained control of a majority of national seats and governorships. Yet, despite these impressive gains, southern Republicans control only three of twenty-two state legislative chambers and 37 percent of state legislative seats. Joseph A. Aistrup addresses why this divergence between the national and subnational levels persists even after GOP national landslides in 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1994.
Explanations for this divergence lie in the interaction between the Republicans' "Southern Strategy" -a set of coherent ideological tactics designed to lure southern whites to ...Read More
When Richard G. Hatcher became the first black mayor of Gary, Indiana in 1967, the response of Gary's white businessmen was to move the entire downtown to the suburbs, thereby weakening the city core. Meanwhile, white business and institutional leaders in Atlanta, Detroit, and Newark worked with black mayors heading those majority-black cities to rebuild their downtowns and neigh¬borhoods. Why not Gary?
Robert A. Catlin, who served as Mayor Hatcher's planning advisor from 1982 to 1987, here analyzes the racial conflicts that tore Gary apart. He asserts that two types of majority-black cities exist. Type I—including Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, and ...Read More
In a time of increasing campaign costs and decreasing state political party activity, legislative party campaign committees have grown to play a major role in the politics of elections in a large number of American states. Anthony Gierzynski's book focuses on these committees.
In this first multi-state analysis, Gierzynski explores the nature and practices of the committees through interviews with legislative leaders and staff and through statistical analyses of campaign finance data from ten representative states.
In addition to direct cash contributions, legislative caucus campaign committees provide candidates with a multitude of support and services and usually target their resources ...Read More
Super Tuesday 1988 was the first successful attempt to get several states in one region to hold their presidential primaries on the same day. Its success—or lack thereof— will affect the way presidents are elected for many years to come.
Reaching beyond Super Tuesday and the nominations of George Bush and Michael Dukakis, Barbara Norrander's book presents the nation's first regional primary as the latest chapter in the ever-changing system through which U.S. political parties choose their presidential candidates. Norrander's research details how changes in technology, candidate and media strategies, and historical circumstances have influenced recent presidential nominations and how ...Read More
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