Perpetuating the Pork Barrel

Perpetuating the Pork Barrel : Policy Subsystems and American Democracy

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This book details the policy subsystems - links among members of Congress, interest groups, program beneficiaries, federal and subnational government agencies - that blanket the American political landscape. Robert Stein and Kenneth Bickers have constructed a database 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 re-election of legislators.
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Product details

  • Online resource
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 9 b/w illus. 62 tables
  • 1139174452
  • 9781139174459

Review quote

'This book devotes needed attention to the linkages between members of Congress, beneficiaries of federal programs (both constituents and interest groups), and intergovernmental agencies. Robert M. Stein and Kenneth N. Bickers have marshalled an impressive array of data to test several hypothesis that question long-held beliefs related to the distribution of federal benefits. 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 existance of federal programs.' Journal of Politics
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Table of contents

Part I: 1. Policy subsystems and the pork barrel; Part II: 2. The Programmatic expansion of US domestic spending; 3. The geographic scope of domestic spending: a test of the universalism thesis; Part III: 4. A portfolio theory of policy subsystems; 5. PAC contributions and the distribution of domestic assistance programs; 6. Policy subsystem adaptability and resilience in the Reagan period; 7. Congressional elections and the pork barrel; Part IV: 8. Policy subsystems in practice and democratic theory; Appendices.
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