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Constitutional Reform and Effective Government / Edition 1

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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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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Reviews the origins and rationale of the constitutional structure and the current debate about whether reform is needed. New in this edition of the 1986 work is discussion of Congressional term limits and of proposed changes to the electoral college. Paper edition (unseen), $15.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815782292
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1992
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Lexile: 1640L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The Constitutional Dilemma 1
The Current Constitutional Debate 4
The Barriers to Constitutional Reform 16
The Parliamentary Model - and Incrementalism 18
What Changes Might Work? 20
2 Origins of the Constitutional Structure 22
Checks on the Congress 25
Checks on the President 36
The Process of Amendment 43
3 Two Centuries of Constitutional Debate 45
Presidential Tenure 46
Presidential Selection 54
Linking Cabinet and Congress 58
Direct Election of Senators 61
The Amendment Process 65
Approval of Treaties 67
Congressional Tenure 70
Removing a Failed President 74
The War Power 77
Efficiency, Leadership, and Accountability 78
4 Forestalling Divided Government 88
The Accepted Theory of Party Government 90
The New Era of Divided Government 93
Evaluations of Divided Government 96
The Origins of Divided Government 111
Designing a Solution 124
The Presidential-Congressional Team Ticket 125
Two Simpler Approaches 131
Bonus Seats in Congress 137
Effectiveness versus Feasibility 142
5 Altering Terms and Electoral Processes 144
Windows and Honeymoons 145
The Four-Eight-Four Plan 153
The Six-Six-Three Plan 164
Repeal of the Twenty-second Amendment 175
Limiting Congressional Terms 177
Electing the President 187
6 Reconstituting a Failed Government 199
Special Elections as the Remedy 204
Designing the Special Election Mechanism 208
The Need for a Safety Valve 226
7 Fostering Interbranch Collaboration 230
Modifying the Separation of Powers 232
Strengthening Political Parties 245
The Promise of Improved Collaboration 274
8 Modifying the Checks and Balances 278
The Item Veto 281
The Legislative Veto 294
The War Power 303
Approval of Treaties 310
Breaking Deadlocks by Referenda 315
Preserving the Executive-Legislative Balance 320
9 The Prospects for Constitutional Reform 322
The Difficulty of Doing Anything 325
Variations in the Amendment Process 327
The Problem of Gainers and Losers 329
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