Erik J. Engstrom offers a historical perspective on the effects of gerrymandering on elections and party control of the U.S. national legislature. Aside from the requirements that districts be continuous and, after 1842, that each select only one representative, there were few restrictions on congressional districting. Unrestrained, state legislators drew and redrew districts to suit their own partisan agendas. With the rise of the “one-person, one-vote” doctrine and the implementation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, however, redistricting became subject to court oversight.
Engstrom evaluates the abundant cross-sectional and temporal variation in redistricting plans and their electoral results from all the states, from 1789 through the 1960s, to identify the causes and consequences of partisan redistricting. His analysis reveals that districting practices across states and over time systematically affected the competitiveness of congressional elections; shaped the partisan composition of congressional delegations; and, on occasion, determined party control of the House of Representatives.
This political history analyzes the failure of the United States to adopt viable employment policies, follows U.S. manpower training and employment policy from the 1946 Employment Act to the Job Training Partnership Act of 1982. Between these two landmarks of legislation in the War on Poverty, were attempts to create public service employment (PSE), the abortive Humphrey-Hawkins Act, and the beleaguered Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA).
Mucciaroni's traces the impact of economic ideas and opinions on federal employment policy. Efforts at reform, he believes, are frustrated by the tension between economic liberty and social equality that restricts the role of government and holds workers themselves accountable for success or failure. Professional economists, especially Keynesians, have shaped the content and timing of policy innovations in such ways as to limit employment programs to a social welfare mission, rather than broader, positive economic objectives. As a result, neither labor nor management has been centrally involved in making policy, and employment programs have lacked a stable and organized constituency committed to their success. Finally, because of the fragmentation of U.S. political institutions, employment programs are not integrated with economic policy, are hampered by conflicting objectives, and are difficult to carry out effectively.
As chronic unemployment and the United States' difficulties in the world marketplace continue to demand attention, the importance of Mucciaroni's subject will grow. For political scientists, economists, journalists, and activists, this book will be a rich resource in the ongoing debate about the deficiencies of liberalism and the best means of addressing one of the nation's most pressing social and political problems.
Mucciaroni's provocative theoretical analysis is buttressed by several years' research at the U.S. Department of Labor, access to congressional hearings, reports, and debates, and interviews with policy makers and their staffs. It will interest all concerned with the history of liberal social policy in the postwar period.
“Megabills” that package scores of legislative proposals into House and Senate bills are a phenomenon of the congressional reforms of the 1970s and the agenda changes of the 1980s. These bills generate unprecedented disagreements between the House and Senate, requiring congressional leaders, the president, committee chairs, and junior members to play new roles in this struggle for resolution.
Conference committees of hundreds of members, informal negotiations among party leaders, and preconference strategizing and behavior are among the new realities of bicameralism that are viewed in this study. These conferences are vital because they generally are the last arenas in which large-scale changes can be made in legislation.
Van Beek uses a case study approach that investigates the legislative histories of recent bills on the savings and loan bailout, the major trade bill of the late 1980s, and several budget reconciliation bills. His research is brought to life through personal experience as a legislative aide, direct observation of Congress at work, and interviews with members, staff and lobbyists.
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