The underappreciated but surprisingly successful implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) helped rescue the economy during the Great Recession and represented one of the most important achievements of the Obama presidency. It tested all levels of government with urgent time frames and extensive accountability requirements. While ARRA passed most tests with comparatively little mismanagement or fraud, negative public and media perceptions of the initiative deprived the president of political credit.
Drawing on more than two hundred interviews and nationwide field research, Governing under Stress examines a range of ARRA stimulus programs to analyze the fraught politics, complex implementation, and impact of the legislation. Essays from public administration scholars use ARRA to study how to implement large federal programs in our modern era of indirect, networked governance. Throughout, the contributors present potent insights into the most pressing challenges facing public policy and management, and they uncover important lessons about policy instruments and networks, the effects of transparency and accountability, and the successes and failures of different types of government intervention.
While civics textbooks describe an idealized model of “how a bill becomes law;” journalists often emphasize special interest lobbying and generous campaign contributions to Congress; and other textbooks describe common stages through which all policies progress, these approaches fail to convey—much less explain—the tremendous diversity in political processes that shape specific policies in contemporary Washington.
Bridging the gap between textbook models of how public policy should work, and how the process actually works in contemporary Washington, Pathways of Power provides a framework that integrates the roles of political interests and policy ideals in the contemporary policy process. This book argues that the policy process can be understood as a set of four distinctive pathways of policymaking—pluralist, partisan, expert, and symbolic—that draw upon different political resources, appeal to different political actors, and elicit unique strategies and styles of coalition building.
Revealing the strategic behavior of policy actors who compete to shift policies onto pathways that maximize their resources and influence, the book provides a fresh approach to understanding the seeming chaos and volatility of the policy process today. The book’s use of a wide universe of major policy decisions and case studies, focused on such key areas as health care, federal budgeting, and tax policy, provides a useful foundation for students of the policy process as well as for policy practitioners eager to learn more about their craft.
This book is the first comprehensive analysis of the politics behind the use of mandates requiring state and local governments to implement federal policy.
Over the last twenty-five years, during both liberal and conservative eras, federal mandates have emerged as a resilient tool for advancing the interests of both political parties. Revealing the politics that led to the policies, Paul L. Posner explores the origins of these congressional mandates, what interests and needs they satisfy, whether mandate reform initiatives can be expected to alter their use, and their implications for federalism.
This book reveals how mandates have changed the way policy is formed in the United States and the fundamental relationship between the federal government and the state and local governments.