When Presidents Do Not Represent 'All the People': African Americans and Executive Budgets
43 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 1 Sep 2011
Date Written: 2011
When are presidents responsive to the policy preferences of a minority among the public? We examine the connection between presidential behavior and the preferences of African Americans as a special case of minority representation, a case with great normative significance in the context of American history. We spell out the conditions under which presidents have incentives to propose policies more in line with African Americans’ preferences. We then test the hypotheses by comparing the president’s annual budget proposal to the alternative budget proposed by Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) from 1980 to 2011. We find that presidents’ budgetary proposals are closer to the preferences of the CBC when 1) there is a Democrat in the White House, 2) there is not a presidential election imminent, 3) the size of the Democratic coalition is relatively large, and 4) the issue in question is of greater importance to African Americans than the rest of the public.
Keywords: Presidency, African Americans, budgetary politics, representation
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