The Politics of Federal Grants: Presidential Influence over the Distribution of Federal Funds
Hudak, John Joseph
This project advances the idea that the President of the United States is a primarily election driven actor who uses the power of his office to advance those interests. Like Members of Congress, presidents use their influence over the distribution of federal funds to target key constituencies—swing states—in and effort to win reelection and enhance the electoral strength of the party’s standard bearer. In so doing, this project demonstrates the profound scope of presidential spending power, even at the micro-level. Specifically, presidents influence the allocation of federal discretionary grants, using them as an extension of the campaign largesse. Through a complex network of administrative rules and procedures, a web of political appointees, and the ease of conveying White House preferences with regard to key constituencies, the executive branch of the American government efficiently and effectively aids the president in the electoral arena. By analyzing such behaviors at the aggregate-, agency-, and individual-levels, this project illustrates clearly not only the relationship between presidential preferences and porkbarrel politics, but also the precise processes and mechanisms presidents use to capitalize on such distributive benefits.