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Secretaries of Pork? A New Theory of Distributive Public Policy

Anthony M. Bertelli

USC Price School of Public Policy; USC Gould School of Law; University of Birmingham

Christian R. Grose

University of Southern California

September 12, 2008

Journal of Politics, Forthcoming

Scholars have focused attention toward congressional influence over distributive grant allocations, though have less frequently examined the extent to which administrative agencies play a role in that process. We present a new theory of ideology-contingent executive decisionmaking within a multiple-principals framework to explain the geographic distribution of policy benefits. Our theory is novel in that it locates inter-branch ideological conflict and confluence at the center of bureaus' allocational strategies. Discretionary Department of Labor (DOL) grants and Department of Defense (DOD) contracts from 1991-2002 are examined to provide evidence that agencies deliver more grants to senators with proximate ideologies. To measure bureaucratic ideology, we generate comparable ideology estimates for cabinet secretaries, presidents, and members of the U.S. Senate via an item response model. Our findings suggest that ideological congruence between senators and DOL or DOD is associated with significantly larger amounts of grants or contracts respectively. These findings are important as they recast our understanding of distributive politics into ideological terms.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: Pork-barrel politics, Ideal Point Estimation, Public Policy, Congress, Executive Politics, Presidency

JEL Classification: H50, H57

Accepted Paper Series

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Date posted: September 14, 2008 ; Last revised: November 30, 2008

Suggested Citation

Bertelli, Anthony M. and Grose, Christian R., Secretaries of Pork? A New Theory of Distributive Public Policy (September 12, 2008). Journal of Politics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1267288

Contact Information

Anthony M. Bertelli (Contact Author)
USC Price School of Public Policy ( email )
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
USC Gould School of Law
699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

University of Birmingham
School of Government and Society
Birmingham, B15 2TT
United Kingdom
Christian R. Grose
University of Southern California ( email )
Von KleinSmid Center, 327
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.christiangrose.com
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References:  125
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