Checks and Balances

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  • Checks and Balances
    • Divided Government
      • The 44 years between 1969 and the end of 2012 have seen 22 years of divided government where both houses were controlled by the opposite party to that which controlled the white house
        • Only 12.5 years of this period did one party control the presidency and both houses
          • 77-80 Carter, 93-94 Clinton 09-10 Obama Democrats
          • January-June of 01, 03-06 Bush Republicans
        • For the remaining 9.5 years the President's party controlled one house
          • 11-12 Obama Senate but not house
        • 69-74 Nixon, 74-76 Ford, 87-88 Reagan, 89-92 GHW Bush, 07-08 GW Bush Republicans
        • 95-00 Clinton Democrats
      • Not always the norm, in the previous 44 years from 1925 to 1968 there was divided government for only 8 years
    • Gridlock
      • Some recent Presidents have accused the Senate of rejecting their judicial nominations for partisan reasons
        • A large number of posts in both the federal trial and appeal courts remain unfilled for months, even years
        • 1995, Republican controlled Congress and Democrat President Clinton led to parts of the federal government shutting down due to lack of money
    • More effective Governement
      • Bills scrutinised more closely
      • Treaties checked more carefully
      • Nominees questioned more rigorously in the confirmation process
        • Some evidence that when Congress and the president are of the same party, legislation, nominations, budgets, treaties etc. are pushed through without as much careful scrutiny
          • Not since 1935 has the Senate rejected a treaty of a president of its own party
          • Only twice in the last 50 years has Congress overidden a veto of a president of its party
          • Bills scrutinised more closely
          • Treaties checked more carefully
    • Less effective Government
      • Treatment of SC  nominees Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas (Republican) by a Democrat controlled Senate
      • Impeachment proceedings conducted against Clinton by a Republican controlled Congress


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