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A lively, comprehensive account that demonstrates how contemporary controversies are grounded in law, history, and politics

President and Congress

Executive Hegemony at the Crossroads of American Government

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Robert J. Spitzer

Examining trends that have led to the rise of the modern strong presidency and the apparent decline of Congress, Robert Spitzer discusses the evolving relationship between the executive and legislative branches and its implications for the constitutional separation of powers. He focuses on historical, legal, and political perspectives that shape the interaction of the two branches and challenges much of the recent criticism directed at that relationship.

As the best hope for effective national governance, Spitzer argues for the acceptance of presidential dominance, a renewed commitment to the separation of powers, and an active and vigorous role for Congress. Unlike other books on the subject, this book focuses attention on foreign policy issues, such as war powers, treaty-making and executive agreements, foreign aid, arms sales, and intelligence. The author examines U.S. military actions since the enactment of the controversial War Powers Resolution of 1973, including the recent Iraqi crisis.

Spitzer cites current timely examples to illustrate broader trends, such as post-Gramm-Rudman-Hollings budget reforms, Iran-Contra as an example of unilateral executive decision-making, and the ascendance of politics over law in the continued use of the legislative veto in the face of the Supreme Court ruling striking it down. This lively, comprehensive account of the current state of presidential-congressional relations illuminates the dynamics of the balance of power and demonstrates how contemporary controversies are grounded in law, history, and politics.

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Excerpt

Read the Introduction and an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).

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Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. Foundations of the Presidential-Congressional Relationship
Antecedents • The Founders' Fears • Fear of a Strong Executive • Fear of a Strong Legislature • Fear of Concentrated Power • Fear of Governmental Paralysis • The Constitutional Framework • Conclusion

2. The Evolving Relationship
Case I: The First Congress, 1789-1791 • Politics as Usual • What's in a Name? • The Government Seat • Debt Funding and Assumption • Assessment • The Evolving Relationship • The Jacksonian Era • Case II: The Twenty-Seventh Congress, 1841-1843 • Assessment • The Road to a Stronger Presidency • The Civil War-Reconstruction Era • The Ascendancy of the Modern Strong Presidency • Conclusion: Explaining the Changing Relationship

3. The Domestic Realm I: The Legislative Presidency
Chief Legislator • Why a Legislative President? • An Administrative Congress? • Setting the Agenda • Central Clearance • Liaison • Lobbying from the White House • The President's Full-Court Press • Party Leadership • Patronage • Rallying Public Support • Controlling the Endgame: The Veto • Presidential Success: Measuring the President's Batting Average • Conclusion

4. The Domestic Realm II: Explaining Presidential-Congressional Interactions
Political Explanation: Presidential Leadership • Leadership and Presidential Power • Leadership Qualities and Congress • Assessment • Historical Explanation: Budgeting • From Legislative to Executive Budget • Congress Awakens • Executive Counterpunch • Assessment • Legal Explanation: The Legislative Veto • Congress Gets a Veto • Arguments Pro and Con • The Court Rules... • ...But the Veto Remains • Assessment • Policy Explanation: Policy Types • The Arenas of Power • The Four Presidencies • Assessment • Conclusion

5. Foreign Affairs I: Who Steers the Ship of State?
The Executive-Legislative Balance and the Constitution • Are There "Two Presidencies"? • Why Presidential Ascendancy? • War Powers and Military Force • The Founders and War • Imperfect Wars • The Evolution of the War Power • The War Powers Resolution • The War Powers Resolution in Operation... • ...or, "Oh, What a Lovely War" • Presidential War Making • Conclusion: Pacificus Prevails

6. Foreign Affairs II: Ah, Diplomacy!
Treaties and Executive Agreements • Ending Treaties • Treaty-Making Success: The Panama Canal Treaties • Treaty-Making Failure: The SALT II Treaty • Assessment: Treaties, the President, and Congress • Executive Agreements • Arms Sales and the Changing Role of the United States in the World • The Saudi Arms Deal • Foreign Aid • "Intermestic" Issues • The President, Congress, and Intelligence • Iran-Contra • Conclusion

7. Conclusion: Is the Separation of Powers Obsolete?
The Presidential-Congressional Relationship: Marginal or Hegemonic? • The Ineffectual Congress/Ascendant President Argument • Terms and Parties • The End of Congressional Lawmaking • Is Change Desirable? • The Imperial Congress/Weak President Argument • The "Legalism" Critique • The "Imperial " Congress • Executive Absurdism • Were the Founders Wrong? • Separation of Powers and Alternatives • Retaining and Executive-Hegemonic Separation of Powers • The Rules and Outcomes • The Presidency and Democracy

Appendix A: The Politics of the Modern Presidency
Appendix B: The Politics of the Modern Congress
Selected Bibliography
Index

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About the Author(s)

Robert J. Spitzer is Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York, College at Cortland.

Subject Categories

Political Science and Public Policy

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