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Ptx Internals

Ptx Internals

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10/16/2011

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Congress can avoid the blame – decentralized nature of the institution insures it
FITTS 96
Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School [Michael A., “THE PARADOX OF POWER IN THE MODERN STATE,” University of
Pennsylvania Law Review, January, 144 U. Pa. L. Rev. 827] // DCM

< Under this analysis, the decentralized and multimember structure of Congress can be - ironically - an advantage, at least where political divisions
become serious and conflict mediation becomes important. On a strategic level, members of Congress can always claim to be working for their
constituents and their constituents alone. If they cannot satisfy all of their constituents' wishes, they can blame the institution's neutral
processes, such as the rules committee and voting rules, which were put in place before any [*864] specific controversy arrived. Thus,
the collective action problem becomes a mediation advantage because the institution, not the individual politician, is held responsible
for the lack of institutional mediation. n122

The complexity and size of Congress also allow the leadership to exercise agenda control, thereby permitting the
institution to avoid reaching definitive decisions in difficult cases or to resolve divisive issues at an optimal moment. n123

At the same time, when it does "decide" an
issue, Congress can speak in complex legislation with different voices, taking inconsistent positions and thereby avoiding some conflict. Thus, in legitimating
negative or controversial outcomes, members of Congress can rely on their precommitment to certain institutional rules and
procedures and the ambiguity of collective action. In this sense, the frequent criticism of Congress that it is inefficient and universalistic
can have a silver lining - its decentralization can avoid open divisions and conflict. One well-documented result is the high incumbency rate in
Congress - members can blame the institution for collective failure, avoid taking stands on controversial issues that may divide their constituency, and take credit for
more narrow legislative action. n124

>

The President gets the blame – Congress can avoid it
FITTS 96
Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School [Michael A., “THE PARADOX OF POWER IN THE MODERN STATE,” University of
Pennsylvania Law Review, January, 144 U. Pa. L. Rev. 827] // DCM

What are the long term effects of this perception on the president's legitimacy and power? While the consequences are obviously quite complex,
there is reason to believe it can undermine the support for and influence of the president in some contexts. First, the perception of presidential influence may simply
exacerbate the problems of presidential visibility described above. The perception of presidential power increases public scrutiny. This makes the
president even more central to the resolution of symbolic and moral disputes in government, ranging from the placement of his children in
private schools to affirmative action. Second, at the same time, the asymmetry in visibility creates an environment that is conducive to strategic
behavior by other actors in government, for which the president may be forced to take responsibility. To the extent that a system exists
that holds one actor responsible for the actions of others, free-riding members have a clear incentive to act strategically. n216

This may

explain why individual members of Congress are often accused of being less concerned with collective results. Opportunities for
strategic behavior can arise in a variety of situations, including international affairs, such as Haiti, the Mexican bailout, Kuwait and Bosnia, as [*890]
well as in domestic areas, such as the budget deficit. As a result, it may be difficult for a president to elicit cooperative behavior from members
of Congress.>

57

Michigan 7 Wk Jrs CHPS
Politics – Internal Links

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