Domestic Policy Making

Authors

  • PAUL C. LIGHT

    1. The vice president and director of the governmental studies program at the Brookings Institution and is the author of The President'sAgenda: Domestic Policy Choice from Kennedy to Clinton. He currently teaches as an adjunct professor of politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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Abstract

This article asks how changes in the presidential policy-making process have affected domestic policy in general and the agenda-setting process in particular. The past forty years have witnessed two roughly parallel but possibly unrelated trends. First, the presidential policy-making process has become more formalized as presidents have added staff and capacity to the institutional presidency. Second, the number of proposals on the president's domestic policy agenda has declined in both number and newness. Simply stated, the president's agenda has declined in significance even as the policy process has increased in capacity. This article examines the possible explanations for the trends while suggesting that institutionalization may not have been the wisest organizational response to the political pressures that led to a shrinking of the president's agenda.

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