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The President and the Distribution of Federal Spending

  • CHRISTOPHER R. BERRY (a1), BARRY C. BURDEN (a2) and WILLIAM G. HOWELL (a1)
Abstract

Scholarship on distributive politics focuses almost exclusively on the internal operations of Congress, paying particular attention to committees and majority parties. This article highlights the president, who has extensive opportunities, both ex ante and ex post, to influence the distribution of federal outlays. We analyze two databases that track the geographic spending of nearly every domestic program over a 24-year period—the largest and most comprehensive panels of federal spending patterns ever assembled. Using district and county fixed-effects estimation strategies, we find no evidence of committee influence and mixed evidence that majority party members receive larger shares of federal outlays. We find that districts and counties receive systematically more federal outlays when legislators in the president's party represent them.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Christopher R. Berry is Assistant Professor, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago, 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637 (crberry@uchicago.edu).
Barry C. Burden is Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1050 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706 (bcburden@wisc.edu).
William G. Howell is Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago, 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637 (whowell@uchicago.edu).
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