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Presidential Particularism and US Trade Politics*

Abstract

Research on presidential distributive politics focuses almost exclusively on federal domestic spending. Yet, presidential influence on public policy extends well-beyond grant allocation. Since the early 20th Century, for example, the president has had substantial discretion to adjust tariff schedules and non-tariff barriers “with the stroke of a pen.” These trade adjustments via presidential directive allow us to test the logic of presidential particularism in an area of policy understudied among presidency scholars. We examine unilateral adjustments to US trade policies between 1917 and 2006, with a detailed analysis of those made between 1986 and 2006, and find that presidents—in accordance with electoral incentives—strategically allocate trade protections to industries in politically valuable states. In general, states in which the president lacks a comfortable electoral majority are systematically more likely to receive protectionist unilateral orders. Overall, our results show that the president’s distributive imperative extends into the realm of foreign affairs, an arena in which the president has substantial authority to influence public policy.

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Kenneth S. Lowande, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, Seigle Hall 273, Campus Box 1063, St. Louis, MO 63130-4899 (lowande@wustl.edu). Jeffery A. Jenkins, Provost Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, Director of the Bedrosian Center, Judith and John Bedrosian Chair in Governance and the Public Enterprise, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, Lewis Hall 312, Los Angeles, California 90089-0626 (jajenkins@usc.edu). Andrew J. Clarke, Assistant Professor of Government and Law, Lafayette College, 102 Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, Easton, PA 18042 (clarkeaj@lafayette.edu). The authors thank George Krause and Doug Kriner for helpful comments and suggestions. All authors contributed equally to this article. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2017.12

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Christopher Berry , Barry Burden , and William Howell . 2010. ‘The President and the Distribution of Federal Spending’. American Political Science Review 104(4):783799.

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William Howell , and David E. Lewis . 2002. ‘Agencies by Presidential Design’. Journal of Politics 64(4):10951114.

William Howell , Saul P. Jackman , and Jon C. Rogowski . 2013. The Wartime President: Executive Influence and the Nationalizing Politics of Threat. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

John Hudak . 2014. Presidential Pork: White House Influence Over the Distribution of Federal Grants. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

David Karol . 2007. ‘Does Constituency Size Affect Elected Officials’ Trade Policy Preferences?’. Journal of Politics 69(2):483494.

Douglas L. Kriner , and Andrew Reeves . 2012. ‘The Influence of Federal Spending on Presidential Elections’. American Political Science Review 106(2):348366.

Douglas L. Kriner , and Andrew Reeves . 2015a. ‘Presidential Particularism and Divide-the-Dollar Politics’. American Political Science Review 109(1):155171.

Douglas L. Kriner , and Andrew Reeves . 2015b. The Particularistic President: Executive Branch Politics and Political Inequality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kenneth Lowande . 2014. ‘After the Orders: Presidential Memoranda and Unilateral Action’. Presidential Studies Quarterly 44(4):724741.

Nolan McCarty . 2000. ‘Presidential Pork: Executive Veto Power and Distributive Politics’. American Political Science Review 94(1):117129.

Sidney Milkis , Jesse Rhodes , and Emily Charnock . 2012. ‘What Happened to Post-Partisanship? Barack Obama and the New American Party System’. Perspectives on Politics 10(1):5776.

Daniel L. Nielson 2003. ‘Supplying Trade Reform: Political Institutions and Liberalization in Middle-Income Presidential Democracies’. American Journal of Political Science 47(3):470491.

Sharyn O’Halloran . 1994. Politics, Process, and American Trade Policy. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Stephen W Stathis . 2014. Landmark Legislation, 1774-2012: Major US Acts and Treaties. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Amy Zegart . 2011. ‘The Domestic Politics of Irrational Intelligence Oversight’. Political Science Quarterly 126(1):125.

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Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
  • URL: /core/journals/political-science-research-and-methods
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