Constitutional Reform and Effective Government / Edition 2

Constitutional Reform and Effective Government / Edition 2

by James L. Sundquist
     
 

For years the public has become increasingly disillusioned and cynical about its governmental institutions. In the face of alarming problems - most notably the $400 billion budget deficit - the government seems deadlocked, reduced to partisan posturing and bickering, with the president and Congress blaming each other for failure. And neither party can be held… See more details below

Overview

For years the public has become increasingly disillusioned and cynical about its governmental institutions. In the face of alarming problems - most notably the $400 billion budget deficit - the government seems deadlocked, reduced to partisan posturing and bickering, with the president and Congress blaming each other for failure. And neither party can be held accountable. The public tendency is to blame individual leaders - or politicians as a class - but an insistent and growing number of experienced statesmen and political scientists believe that much of the difficulty can be traced to the governmental structure itself, designed in the eighteenth century and essentially unchanged since then. Is that inherited constitutional system adequate to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, or has the time come for fundamental change? Should we adopt an electoral system that encourages unified control of the presidency, the Senate, and the House? Lengthen terms of office? Limit congressional terms? Abolish or modify the electoral college? Introduce a mechanism for calling special elections? Permit legislators to hold executive offices? Redistribute the balance of powers within the governmental system? In this revised edition of his highly acclaimed 1986 volume, James Sundquist reviews the origins and rationale of the constitutional structure and the current debate about whether reform is needed, then raises practical questions about what changes might work best if a consensus should emerge that the national government is too prone to stalemate to meet its responsibilities. Analyzing the main proposals advanced to adapt the Constitution to current conditions, he attempts to separate the workable ideas from the unworkable, the effective from the ineffective, the possibly feasible from the wholly infeasible, and finally arrives at a set of recommendations of his own.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815782308
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
09/28/1992
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
344
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

1The Constitutional Dilemma1
The Current Constitutional Debate4
The Barriers to Constitutional Reform16
The Parliamentary Model - and Incrementalism18
What Changes Might Work?20
2Origins of the Constitutional Structure22
Checks on the Congress25
Checks on the President36
The Process of Amendment43
3Two Centuries of Constitutional Debate45
Presidential Tenure46
Presidential Selection54
Linking Cabinet and Congress58
Direct Election of Senators61
The Amendment Process65
Approval of Treaties67
Congressional Tenure70
Removing a Failed President74
The War Power77
Efficiency, Leadership, and Accountability78
4Forestalling Divided Government88
The Accepted Theory of Party Government90
The New Era of Divided Government93
Evaluations of Divided Government96
The Origins of Divided Government111
Designing a Solution124
The Presidential-Congressional Team Ticket125
Two Simpler Approaches131
Bonus Seats in Congress137
Effectiveness versus Feasibility142
5Altering Terms and Electoral Processes144
Windows and Honeymoons145
The Four-Eight-Four Plan153
The Six-Six-Three Plan164
Repeal of the Twenty-second Amendment175
Limiting Congressional Terms177
Electing the President187
6Reconstituting a Failed Government199
Special Elections as the Remedy204
Designing the Special Election Mechanism208
The Need for a Safety Valve226
7Fostering Interbranch Collaboration230
Modifying the Separation of Powers232
Strengthening Political Parties245
The Promise of Improved Collaboration274
8Modifying the Checks and Balances278
The Item Veto281
The Legislative Veto294
The War Power303
Approval of Treaties310
Breaking Deadlocks by Referenda315
Preserving the Executive-Legislative Balance320
9The Prospects for Constitutional Reform322
The Difficulty of Doing Anything325
Variations in the Amendment Process327
The Problem of Gainers and Losers329

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