Presidential influence and the administrative state



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Richard Nathan in his books on the administrative presidency strategy has urged presidents to politicize the presidency through the use of a variety of techniques. These include the appointment of loyalists, the removal of recalcitrant civil servants, the use of the budget as a management technique, and reorganization of the bureaucracy. Nathan has asserted that the administrative presidency strategy is an effective means of increasing presidential influence over the administrative state. In this dissertation I analyze the administrative presidency strategy. Using the comparative case study approach, I examine four bureaucratic entities under three presidents: The Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I argue that Nathan's assertion that the administrative presidency strategy promotes presidential influence ignores certain risks such as increased opposition to the president's programs from Congress, the courts, interest groups, and the bureaucracy, which can actually reduce presidential influence. Instead of Nathan's confrontational approach to presidential administrative relations, I suggest that presidents should attenpt to bargain and coirpromise with key elements within the bureaucracy. Through use of their powers of persuasion, presidents can seek to build support for their policies without raising the risks of increased congressional oversight or interest group opposition. Rather than relying on Nathan's command techniques, presidents should adopt a more conciliatory approach.



Presidents, United States, Executive power