The Limits of Rational Choice: Bush and Clinton Budget Summitry



Outcomes of summit budgeting in 1990, 1995, and 1998 demonstrate the limitations of two rational choice methodologies—spatial positioning and game payoffs. They also call into question some axioms of budget politics, to wit, that maintaining the integrity of the process itself is an important value, that it is better to conclude an agreement that can be reached when the other side goes more than halfway than it would be to walk away from the deal, and that it is better to get something done and act in a bipartisan manner than it is to act confrontationally and rely on presidential prerogative.