I have recently put together the “print” version of AJPS and I asked a number of authors to write a short synopsis of their article. William Howell and Saul Jackman’s article “Interbranch Negotiations over Policies with Multiple Outcomes” will soon be appearing in AJPS. Will and Saul sent in the following synopsis.
- Inter-branch relations between presidents and Congress—as between all sorts of political actors sitting in different stations of government—are defined by a good deal more than just ideological and/or partisan disagreements. The very terms by which presidents and members of Congress evaluate policy, after all, differ markedly from one another. Whereas presidents focus primarily on the national implications of public policy, members of Congress are torn between what is good for the country and what is good for their state or district. These differences have meaningful consequences for the kinds of policies that are enacted into law.
- We build upon a longstanding tradition of bargaining models going back to Crawford and Sobel that characterizes presidential and legislative behavior under conditions of uncertainty. Unlike previous work, however, we recognize that policies can have multiple outcomes whose political relevance varies for different political actors. Even after fixing players’ ideal points, we find that legislators will support policies that better reflect the president’s preferences when they assign great weight to the national implications of policy alternatives; conversely, members of Congress will less inclined to support the president when they assign greater importance to local policy outcomes.
- After recognizing a wide range of well-established empirical phenomena that the theory helps explain, we examine trends in budgetary allotments during periods of peace (when local considerations, in the main, are paramount) and war (when national considerations take on heightened importance). Our findings show that during times of war, legislators enact budgets that more closely adhere to presidential proposals. These differences, moreover, do not appear to be function of strategic proposal making on the part of presidents, and they persist in both foreign and domestic policy matters.
The article provides a different take on the state of US politics as wracked by polarization and Inter-branch intransigence.