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Congress in ReverseRepeals from Reconstruction to the Present$
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Jordan M. Ragusa and Nathaniel A. Birkhead

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226717333

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226717500.001.0001

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Problem-Solving Efforts

Problem-Solving Efforts

(p.50) Chapter Three Problem-Solving Efforts
Congress in Reverse

Jordan M. Ragusa

Nathaniel A. Birkhead

University of Chicago Press

Chapter three examines whether the problem solving efforts which are commonly found to explain Congress’ policy activity explain repeals as well. Though lawmakers often explain their repeal efforts as either a solution to a policy problem or an effort to fix defective statutes, the analysis in this chapter finds that these explanations are largely “cheap talk.” Utilizing a measure of issue attention—a common indicator of policy problems—the results are that legislative attention is often unrelated to repeal. Likewise, macroeconomic repeals are unrelated to objective economic policy problems, bank failures are unrelated to banking repeals, war repeals related to war fatalities, and technological advancements are unrelated to technological repeals. Overall, this chapter concludes that while problem-solving efforts are central to policy creation, repeals seem to be governed by other forces.

Keywords:   problem solving, policy problems, issue attention

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