Wildavsky's Two Presidencies When Aaron Term Paper

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It would therefore be a policy to be shaped by the powerful oversight of the federal executive that would serve to dominate the process.

In the years following his supposition, however, many detractors have cited that the role which the public, the executive and Congress play in shaping the priorities of a spending bill will tend to levy political implications over the process. As a result, such hard and fast rules as that informing the theory of incrementalism may suffer from an absence of historical consistency in the approach to spending. Certainly, the absence of accurate consistency may be attributed to, among other things, the ongoing tug-of-war between the President and Congress in influencing the content of spending bills.

In 1974, with the executive authority under an unprecedented amount of scrutiny following the Watergate revelations, Congress passed a resolution that would articulate with a theretofore unseen degree of control the ways in which the legislative branch would be required to proceed in order to establish a spending blueprint, further diminished the balance of scale toward congressional rather than presidential dominance in domestic policymaking. Following the early 20th century addition of the executive to the front end of this process, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 would be the first binding legislation to properly reinforce the Congressional role in this responsibility and would therefore serve as a vocal response to the implications of incrementalism. The concurrent review engaged by both houses; and the principle of spending limits, which subjected to subsequent reinvention, would be regulated here to resemble their current model.

Still, the battle is always ongoing for the domestic president to see his agendas through a Congress which can at times be hostile. It is therefore that Congress, in its role as the lawmaking body, has sought to respond by even further drawing back the authority of the domestic presidency. In many ways, this may be seen as a way of not just attempting to undermine executive authority in domestic affairs but also of limiting the depth of control caused to domestic policy by executive-derived foreign policies such as those related to war and defense spending. To this end, we may consider that Wildavsky's 1966 article prefigured many actual policy initiatives.

Namely, a 1985 piece of legislation, emerging from the Senate and known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, was aimed at curbing an executive abuse of spending privileges which had resulted by that time in the largest deficits in U.S. history. Designed to counteract the spending excesses of President Reagan as well as to force Congress to take a bold stand in this regard, the Act would impose legal spending limitations upon programs in order to pursue a balanced budget.

Nonetheless, a balanced budget would not emerge until the repercussions of the 1990 Budget Enforcement Act could be felt.

Here, it was the executive that would ultimately act to enforce deficit limitations by imposing annual spending limitations (rather than program limitations as did Gramm-Rudman) upon the budget. This resolution expired in 2002, with the deficit spiraling to its greatest index in history. In the case of the balanced budget and the marked extension of the current budget deficit, the clear reason has been the will of the executive. This is to suggest that in no small regard, the power of the executive has achieved a certain height in the domestic arena that Congress has traditionally sought to limit.

This tends to persist because of the clear correlation between the assumed vitality of foreign policy initiatives and the need to actualize such policy. As Wildavsky phrases it, "if decisions are perceived to be both important and irreversible, there is every reason for Presidents to devote a great deal of resources to them. Presidents have to be oriented toward the future use of resources." (25) This is, of course, a somewhat circular logic, but one that nonetheless does characterize the interaction between foreign and domestic policy.

Therefore, though the president does put on two separate hats in order to serve the function of his office, it is natural that the chief executive should place these two roles into play with one another in order to serve each more effectively. Indeed, this is the precarious and empowering balance which…[continue]

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    .. discretion as a practical matter" (1988, p. 78). Wildavsky's was not critical of classical budgeting theory. He was more in favor of the concept of incrementalism that was a vital part of classical budgeting. He felt that incrementalism was superior to other budgeting approaches because it "increases agreement among the participants" (1984, p. 136) and also because it could reduce "burden of calculation" (1984, p. 136). Wildavsky went on to


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