Sunday, April 18, 2010

Moe: The Politicized Presidency

Here is a summary of Moe's "The Politicized Presidency"

i. Modern presidents politicize administrative arrangements and centralize policy related concerns in WH

ii. Politicization: commonly disliked for its effects on institutional memory, expertise, professionalism, objectivity, and institutional competence

iii. Centralization: disliked because it circumnavigates institutions and places and relies on WH

iv. How institutions develop

1. Environment shapes path of institutional development because it dictates structures, incentives and resources

2. Institutions will only change when there are the right incentives

v. What development means to institutional presidency

1. Huge gaps between performance expectations and capacity of president to meet expectations

2. Modern presidents are driven by all the expectations to seek control/order over the bureaucracy because he has limited constitutional powers and needs the help of the institutions

3. 2 main directions of change to encourage responsive competence from institutions so president can keep going

a. Increasing centralization of the institution presidency in the WH because then he can count on support from his own people

b. Increase politicization of the institutional system

i. Attractive because its anchored in formal presidential power – appointment power – and can use it to reach all areas – not just the WH

ii. Congress tends to oppose attempts to do this

vi. Illustration

1. Institutional presidency began with Budget Act of 1921 -> created Bureau of Budget who submitted budgets to Congress, was intended to help rationalize chaotic budget process of Congress.

2. FDR couldn’t deal with the BB sp he became WHY centric when the institutions couldn’t help him reach his goals

3. In his second term he brought the BB under the executive office – OMB

4. Truman and Eisenhower – had to work with the institutions they were given and then had to grow and enlarge the WH competence by formalizing and elaborating on the practices of the past

5. Reagan made a drive to congruence

a. Congruence = bringing the centralization of institutions and politicization of institutions together in an institutional presidency

vii. Standard Criticisms re politicization and centralization de-bunked

1. Centralization and politicization are denounced because:

a. Claim they undermine and circumvent the competence of established institutions

b. Inhibit development of new sources of institutional support

c. Shift decision making responsibilities to those least capable of handling them

i. So instead recommendations are administrative in nature that are aimed at respecting/nurturing neutral competence and organizational integrity (normative)

viii. Conclusion: Moe view the presidency as an institution whose development is driven by incongruence among structures, incentives and resources.

ix. Basis for incongruence in American politics is the expectations of the president far exceed his ability to perform

x. So president has strong incentive to maximize his capacity to do things by initiating reforms and making adjustments in the administrative apparatus around them

xi. But because of inflexibility, lack of resources, constraints of political and bureaucratic opposition, institutions inertia and time pressures: presidents go for areas of greatest flexibility and change – politicization and centralization

xii. Politicization and centralization have grown over time because of the nature of the institutions and the role/location of the presidents within them (systematic causes)

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