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The Presidential Agenda

Sources of Executive Influence in Congress

Roger T. Larocca

“The Presidential Agenda is an excellent book, both substantively and methodologically. Its substantive appeal should give it an audience among those interested in the politics of the presidency and of legislative politics generally. It will have particular appeal in teaching because of its methodological sophistication.” —Randall Calvert, Washington University in St. Louis

“This is a great fun book. There is a lot in here, not just for students of Congress and the Presidency, but for anyone interested in how individuals without formal institutional power can nonetheless influence political action.” —Douglas Dion, University of Iowa

“The Presidential Agenda is about a very important problem—agenda setting. It is unique in several ways. One is that it seeks to be an addition to both theory and empirics. Another is that it develops, as far as I know, the first formal account of agenda setting in the sense used in the empirical literature. Finally, Larocca studies the role of the president in agenda setting. This is of singular value in and of itself. ” —John Aldrich, Duke University

It is well understood that the president is a powerful agenda-setting influence in Congress. But how exactly does the president, who lacks any formal power in early stages of the legislative process, influence the congressional agenda? In The Presidential Agenda, Roger T. Larocca argues that the president’s agenda-setting influence arises from two informal powers: the ability to communicate directly to voters and the ability to control the expertise of the many executive agencies that advise Congress on policy.

Larocca develops a theoretical model that explains how the president can raise the public salience of issues in his major addresses, long accepted as one of the president’s strongest agenda-setting tools. He also develops a theoretical model that explains how control over executive agency expertise yields a more reliable and persistent influence on the congressional agenda than presidential addresses.

The Presidential Agenda tests these theoretical models with an innovative empirical study of presidential agenda setting. Using data from all House and Senate Commerce Committee bills from 1979 to 2002, Larocca converts information about bills into information about policy issues and then traces the path of presidential influence through the committee and floor stages of legislative consideration.

Roger T. Larocca is assistant professor of political science at Oakland University.

Sep 2006
Political science/Government/Legislative Branch; Executive Branch; History & Theory
205 pp. 6x9


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