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Political Economy and Public Policy Paper
Allocating the US Federal Budget to the States: the Impact of the President
Valentino Larcinese, Leonzio Rizzo and Cecilia Testa June 2005
Paper No' PEPP 03:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: D72; H61; H70

Tags: federal budget; pork-barrell; president; congress; political parties; committees; american elections

This paper provides new evidence on the determinants of the US federal budget allocation to the states. Departing from the existing literature that gives prominence to Congress, we carry on an empirical investigation on the impact of Presidents during the period 1982-2000. Our findings suggest that the distribution of federal outlays to the States is affected by presidential politics. First, presidential elections matter. States that heavily supported the incumbent President in past presidential elections tend to receive more funds, while marginal and swing states are not rewarded. Second, party affiliation also plays an important role since states whose governor has the same political affiliation of the President receive more federal funds, while states opposing the president's party in Congressional elections are penalized. These results show that presidents are engaged in tactical distribution of federal funds and also provide good evidence in support of partisan theories of budget allocation.