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Congress and the Politics of Problem Solving

$29.99 (P)

  • Date Published: January 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107670310

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About the Authors
  • Congress and the Politics of Problem Solving shows how a simple premise – voters are willing to hold lawmakers accountable for their collective problem-solving abilities – can produce novel insights into legislative organization, behavior, and output. How do issues end up on the agenda? Why do lawmakers routinely invest in program oversight and broad policy development? What considerations drive legislative policy change? Knowing that their prospects for reelection are partly dependent on their collective problem-solving abilities, lawmakers support structures that enhance the legislature's capacity to address problems in society and encourage members to contribute to nonparticularistic policy-making activities. The resulting insights are novel and substantial: Congress' collective performance affects the reelection prospects of incumbents of both parties; the legislative issue agenda can often be predicted years in advance; nearly all important successful legislation originates in committee; most laws pass with bipartisan support; and electorally induced shifts in preferences or partisan control are not robust predictors of policy change. The electoral imperative to address problems in society provides a compelling explanation for these important and provocative findings.

    • Integrates important insights from legislative studies and public policy studies to propose and test a new theory of legislative organization, behavior and policy change
    • Fresh and provocative perspective on Congress that draws attention to its important and underappreciated problem-solving features and contributions
    • The first major project to derive from the highly regarded Congressional Bills Project
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “Adler and Wilkerson provide an insightful analysis in Congress and the Politics of Problem Solving that offers a more complex view of Congress than the one-dimensional critique we typically get from the press. They discuss institutional practices and processes that drive congressional problem solving and why members of Congress continue to perpetuate them. Although this appears to be the most partisan and dysfunctional Congress in memory, Adler and Wilkerson demonstrate that Democrats and Republicans in Congress are capable of cooperating when they need to.” – Representative Henry A. Waxman, 30th Congressional District of California

    “Congress and the Politics of Problem Solving is the first serious rethinking of the role and operation of Congress in twenty years or more. It has the potential of encouraging congressional scholars to rethink many of the ‘givens’ in the field, and will be widely cited and adopted in courses. Additionally, it will be warmly regarded by public policy scholars and by practitioners and any who care about the operation of Congress.” – Bryan Jones, J. J. “Jake” Pickle Regents Chair in Congressional Studies, University of Texas at Austin

    “This book is the culmination of an enormous effort by the authors, stretching over many years, to collect relevant data on the law-making process and to use the data to address important theoretical issues. The results are impressive. Every congressional researcher will want to read and understand the arguments and evidence the authors marshal, and students will benefit greatly from having this book assigned in class.” – David W. Rohde, Ernestine Friedl Professor of Political Science, Duke University

    "In the end, I hope and expect that Adler and Wilkerson’s challenging study will be widely read. A book that forces us to think hard about how we approach the study of Congress does not come along very often."
    Paul J. Quirk, Congress and the Presidency

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107670310
    • length: 262 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus. 38 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I:
    1. Congress and the politics of problem solving
    2. Problem-focused voters and congressional accountability
    3. Congressional approval and incumbent accountability
    Part II:
    4. Problem-solving constraints and legislative institutions
    5. Agenda scarcity, problem solving, and temporary legislation
    Part III:
    6. Rethinking committee reform
    7. Agenda setting in a problem-solving legislature
    Part IV:
    8. Problem solving and policy focal points
    9. Problem solving and policy change
    10. Problem solving and American politics.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Senior Capstone in American Government
    • politics of policy process
  • Authors

    E. Scott Adler, University of Colorado Boulder
    Scott Adler is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is a principal investigator of the Congressional Bills Project and the Congressional District Data Project. Among his publications are the books Why Congressional Reforms Fail: Reelection and the House Committee System and The Macropolitics of Congress. The former was awarded the Alan Rosenthal Prize from the Legislative Studies Section of the American Political Science Association. His research has also appeared in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science and Legislative Studies Quarterly. In 2006–7, Adler was Visiting Professor at the Center for the Study of American Politics and Department of Political Science, Yale University. He received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1988 and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1996.

    John D. Wilkerson, University of Washington
    John Wilkerson is the Director of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy at the University of Washington. He is a principal investigator of the Congressional Bills Project, the Policy Agendas Project and the Comparative Agendas Project. His research has been published by leading scholarly journals including the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics and Legislative Studies Quarterly. He teaches American politics and created the award-winning online congressional simulation, LegSim. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in 1991.

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