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Presidential Commitment and the Veto

Daniel E. Ingberman and Dennis A. Yao
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 35, No. 2 (May, 1991), pp. 357-389
DOI: 10.2307/2111367
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111367
Page Count: 33
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Presidential Commitment and the Veto
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Abstract

A president's power to veto is widely recognized as an important weapon in the struggle with Congress over legislation. In this paper we investigate the effectiveness of the veto weapon with a simple model of presidential powers that incorporates informal institutional structure--the president's unique position as the focus of public attention--into an otherwise standard agenda-control model of the formal institutional structure governing the legislative process. We show that the president can exploit this public attention to make commitments regarding his veto intentions that, given the formal institutional structure, will enhance the value of the veto. One implication of the model is that commitment over "principles" (e.g., no taxes) will sometimes be more effective than commitment over "degree" (e.g., 3.2% tax rate). In addition, a president can sometimes improve his utility by making commitments that ultimately lead to a veto that is overridden.

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