#TWET: Terry Moe on the Constitution
By Amy Willis
Could allocating more power to the American President result in a more efficient government? Could it result in a smaller government? I admit, I would have had a pretty strong (negative) reaction to those two questions if you’d posed them to me a week ago. But, as usual, this week’s EconTalk episode has me thinking…
This week Roberts chats with Stanford political scientist Terry Moe. Moe has rather an unusual proposal…Moe argues that contrary to the President, US Congresspeople respond primarily to narrow local interests, disabling them from focusing on and making effective national policy. He cites several examples of well-intentioned policies gone awry. He suggests re-allocating some legislative authority away from Congress and to the President in the form of a general Fast Track authority. The President, Moe argues faces an incentive structure national in scope, and is thus better suited to deal with national level policy issues. Russ pushes back, asking Moe how such a change can be made while not disrupting the very sort of incentives Moe is counting on for his proposal to be effective.
And what precisely would count as a national level policy issue of the sort Moe is concerned with? This, to me, was perhaps the most interesting point of tension between the views of the two. Moe says, “So, what counts as a problem and what counts as a solution is in part a matter of democratic perspective: What is it that people want? Right?” Is this the sort of definition politicians could work with? That you could accept?
Moe and Roberts also have a very interesting discussion on just how such a policy could be implemented…It’s not easy! Have a listen and see for yourself…And share your thoughts with us or at the original EconTalk post. (Also look for an EconTalk Extra and Medium post on this episode coming soon.)