The Presidency and Domestic Policy
Until recently, the institution of the presidency was merely a partner in domestic policymaking. Given their limited policy role by the Constitution, presidents could be effective policy leaders by marshalling the resources of the office and enticing other actors to support various initiatives within a system of separated power. By the late 20th century, the president’s policymaking role had expanded to the point where “chief policymaker” became one of the responsibilities of the job. The expansion of the policy role of the office has coincided with two parallel, if incongruous trends: a growth in the institutional domestic policy capacity of the presidency and a tendency of recent presidents to limit the scope of the domestic agenda. Pursuing an ambitious domestic agenda can be risky. However, modern presidents face significant expectations to deliver on their promises, and they have more resources to devote to domestic policy leadership than ever before.