Presidential Policymaking at the State Level
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
I argue that presidents use waivers to implement their preferred reforms at the state level when they are unable to achieve their policy goals through legislation. First, I test the claim that presidents grant more waivers as their political capital declines, leaving them without sufficient leverage in Congress. I find support for this view; when the president’s political capital is lower, measured by his average annual approval rating, he grants more waivers per state-year. Second, I argue that while the waiver process invokes relatively few constraints from Congress and the federal bureaucracy compared to the legislative process, governors impose a crucial constraint on the president’s ability to use waivers. Consequently I focus on how national and state factors interact to influence the president’s use of waivers. Specifically, I hypothesize that the president grants more waivers as his ideological distance from the pivotal member of Congress increases, provided that he can rely on governors in his party to implement his preferred reforms. The data also support this claim; the president grants more waivers when he is “farther” from Congress, as long as the percent of governors in his party is high enough to guarantee cooperation from chief executives across the country. Overall, these results suggest that we should interpret waivers not only as products of state-level innovation, but also as valuable policy tools used by the president to pursue his goals when Congress stalls his reform agenda.
- EMann_APPAM_2015.pdf (590.0KB)