Confict, Consensus, and Opportunity: Congress and the Development of the American Welfare State

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Confict, Consensus, and Opportunity: Congress and the Development of the American Welfare State

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2017-12

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My dissertation examines how public policies that do not generate strong interest group or public support develop over time. Much of the recent policy feedback literature emphasizes the importance of developing support among interest groups or creating new constituencies to support a program. Programs that develop these exogenous supports are more resistant to retrenchment and may be easier to expand while programs that do not are harder to expand and more easily retrenched. My dissertation, which is two in-depth case studies of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the federal minimum wage, finds that exogenous support is not always central to ensuring a program's long term durability. In the case of the EITC, bipartisan support for the program among members of Congress was sufficient to make the program permanent and index it to inflation. This suggests that if the right conditions are met within Congress, exogenous support is less important. In the case of the federal minimum wage, I argue that while exogenous support for the wage eventually developed, it was not strong enough to overcome the inegalitarian program design in part, because that support was partisan in nature. This suggests that generating exogenous support is not always sufficient when thinking about how to expand a program.

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University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2017. Major: Political Science. Advisor: Andrew Karch. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 170 pages.

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Olson, Adam. (2017). Confict, Consensus, and Opportunity: Congress and the Development of the American Welfare State. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/194560.

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