Studies in American Political Development


Tax Policy and Presidential Leadership: Ideas, Interests, and the Quality of Advice1.

M. Stephen Weatherforda1 and Thomas B. Mayhewa1

a1 University of California, Santa Barbara

How do “ideas” help to account for political outcomes? The age-old question of the role of ideas has been given new life recently, partly in response to the imposing structure of theory that has been built around economic or rational choice explanations, with their emphasis on interests and material circumstances rather than ideas. Few outside of the most abstract economic model-builders hold that ideas have no impact on policies, but there is little agreement on how that impact occurs or on the observable criteria that would establish (or contradict) the impact of ideas.


1. For their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper, the authors wish to thank Lorraine M. McDonnell, Paul J. Quirk, and several anonymous reviewers.