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091106notes_lecture_mc201_angel - 1 Lecture MC 201...

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Lecture MC 201, Introduction to Public Affairs Monday, September 11, 2006 Reading: Federalist 52, 55, 62, 64, 70-72, 78 1) Introduction A) Motivation --- To begin, I’d like to ask you to take out a blank sheet of paper. You don’t have to put your names on this. And I’d like you to write down the three branches of government, in order of how powerful you think they are. --- How many of you put down the executive or President first? --- How many put Congress first? --- How many of you put Congress last? --- How many of you think that all three branches are equally powerful? --- As you read in paper 48, the framers were very concerned about legislative power. Madison writes in 48, “The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.” (p. 306) He sees that in most states at this time, the legislative branch is far more proactive than the state executives. What’s more, he attributes the corruption and ineffectiveness of state government to the fact that legislative power is strong relative to the executive. --- Yet today, the idea of a powerful legislative branch seems almost laughable. The President plays a very active role in setting the policy agenda, while Congress seems to react to the President more than it actively pursues its own agenda. What happened to change the relative power of the legislative branch? --- The answer has to do with choices about institutions that were made in the Constitution. In particular, the framers not only made the federal executive and judicial branches independent of the legislature, but they allocated powers across those branches in a way that allows each to maintain its independence from the others (if not its influence). This is known as a presidential system of governance. 1
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--- Other societies, however, made different choices about the relationship between branches of national government. Some countries, in fact, have very strong legislatures: --- Britain, for example, has a style of government in which both the judiciary and executive branches are directly subordinate to the legislative branch. This is a common arrangement, and is called a parliamentary system of governance. --- Incidentally, you don’t have to go far to find examples of powerful legislatures The city of East Lansing, as well as many other cities are governed under powerful city councils, with a weak or no mayor. --- In addition, most corporations are also managed according to this model. --- These institutional differences have important consequences for how public policy is made and the types of policy outcomes that we see. Consider, for example, policy responses to the war in Iraq across members of the so-called “coalition of the willing”: --- In the United States, in spite of the war’s unpopularity among the general public, President Bush has not suffered greatly in terms of his power with Congress, nor in his ability to continue to execute the war.
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091106notes_lecture_mc201_angel - 1 Lecture MC 201...

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