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Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and the Politics of Deficit Reduction

Darrell M. West
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 499, Congress and the Presidency: Invitation to Struggle (Sep., 1988), pp. 90-100
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1045820
Page Count: 11
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Abstract

Procedural change often has generated unanticipated consequences for the policymaking process. This article examines an effort in the United States Congress to institute a procedural mechanism for deficit reduction, the so-called Gramm-Rudman-Hollings procedure. Although the triggering mechanism for automatic spending reductions ultimately was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, this case illustrates the strategic consequences that flow from procedural change. Negotiations over the content of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings dramatically shifted strategic advantages between Congress and the president as well as between Republicans and Democrats. A reform that started out with particular strategic consequences ended up being transformed into a procedure having quite different implications. This period, therefore, illustrates the crucial role that the strategic environment plays in legislative bargaining over deficit reduction.

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