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Solving Collective Action Problems under Separated and Shared Powers: The Benefits of Consolidating Executive Budgetary Powers, 1895–1940.

  • Academic Journal
  • Journal of Politics; Apr2022, Vol. 84 Issue 2, p753-766, 14p
  • The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 consolidated executive budgetary powers within the presidency and Congress. I evaluate how the Act reforms altered the nature of executive budgetary influence, using an original historical database from fiscal years 1895 to 1940. I show that these reforms were not only consistent with both political branches' objective to empower presidents to rein in profligate executive budget proposals under the decentralized budgetary system but also afforded presidents greater budgetary influence when seeking higher funding levels relative to Congress. This mutually beneficial power-sharing arrangement between the president and Congress stands in contrast with existing accounts that these reforms favored one branch at the expense of the other. Finally, I offer evidence that this arrangement was made possible by solving collective action problems within the executive branch that reduced the capacity of seasoned agency heads to shape budgetary outcomes during the postreform era. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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