Perpetuating the Pork Barrel: Policy Subsystems and American Democracy / Edition 1

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This book details the policy subsystems - links among members of Congress, interest groups, program beneficiaries, and federal and subnational government agencies - that blanket the American political landscape. Robert Stein and Kenneth Bickers have constructed a new data-base detailing federal outlays to congressional districts for each federal program, and use it to examine four myths about the impact of policy subsystems on American government and democratic practice. These include the myth that policy subsystems are a major contributor to the federal deficit; that, once created, federal programs grow inexorably and rarely die; that, to garner support for their programs, subsystem actors seek to universalize the geographic scope of program benefits; and that the flow of program benefits to constituencies in congressional districts ensures the reelection of legislators. The authors conclude with an appraisal of proposals for reforming the American political system, including a balanced budget amendment, a presidential line-item veto, term limitations, campaign finance reform, and the reorganization of congressional committees.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a major contribution to the literature on the U.S. Congress and fiscal policy. It is not a narrow empirical study of federal spending that will be of interest only to academics. It offers a broad perspective....will be of interest to informed laypersons as well as scholars." Perspectives on Political Science

"...a comprehensive and well argued challenge to the theory of 'universalism' in explaining how and why federal funds are distributed throughout districts....This book is important for any student of institutions, especially those interested in Congress, interest groups or the federal bureaucracy. It presents a persuasive alternative model to universalism in explaining the distribution of federal funds. In addition, the Stein and Bickers model can be applied to other levels of government (i.e. state and local government), and across countries with different institutional arrangements. In sum, Perpetuating the Pork Barrel is a very well written book that is both theoretically and empirically strong." Congress and the Presidency

"The book rectifies previous research by showing that pork barrel politics is more interactive and complex than had been thought and reports interesting specific findings....This fine book should occupy an enduring place in the policy-making literature." Choice

"Readers of this book will be impressed by the frequency with which the authors' findings call into question conventional wisdom and suggest alternative, yet reasonable interpretations for the existence of federal programs....[it] further refines our understanding of program inception, preservation, and expansion. As such, it will become expected reading for anyone hoping to fully understand policy subsystems." Journal of Politics

"...Stein and Bickers's Perpetuating the Pork Barrel refines our understanding of program inception, preservation, and expansion. As such, it will become expected reading for anyone hoping to gain a better understanding of policy subsystems." Michael K. Moore, The Journal of Politics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521595841
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Tables and figures
1 Policy subsystems and the pork barrel 3
2 The programmatic expansion of U.S. domestic spending 15
3 The geographic scope of domestic spending: A test of the universalism thesis 30
4 A portfolio theory of policy subsystems 47
5 Policy subsystem adaptability and resilience in the Reagan period 70
6 PAC contributions and the distribution of domestic assistance programs 90
7 Congressional elections and the pork barrel 118
8 Policy subsystems in practice and democratic theory 139
App. 1 Descriptive data base of domestic assistance programs 153
App. 2 Geographical data base of domestic assistance awards 157
App. 3 Programs by agency and policy type 161
App. 4 Departments and their distributive policy agencies 187
App. 5 Federal agencies in four cabinet departments: Budgetary changes proposed by the Reagan administration for FY1983 190
App. 6 Financial assistance programs by public law bundle 193
App. 7 PACs whose parent interest groups testified in hearings, grouped by public law and PAC coalition 196
App. 8 Roll call votes in the U.S. House of Representatives on nine public laws 201
App. 9 Probit results for House roll call votes on nine public laws 208
App. 10 Concepts and measures 212
Notes 215
Bibliography 219
Index 227
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