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Eleventh Hour

The Politics of Policy Initiatives in Presidential Transitions

David M. Shafie

Publication Year: 2013

Pres. Jimmy Carter issued last-minute rules immediately before leaving the White House, creating frustration for the incoming Reagan Administration. As George W. Bush prepared to cede the Oval Office to Barack Obama almost three decades later, he ordered more than thirty last-minute policy changes, quickly finalizing the rules before the Obama Administration could overturn them.

Presidents are able to bypass Congress and quietly initiate significant policy changes by using the executive branch’s authority to alter existing statutes. In Eleventh Hour: The Politics of Policy Initiatives in Presidential Transitions, David M. Shafie analyzes how and why five successive presidents have done so at the end of their administrations, offering important new insights for the growing study of the administrative presidency.

After assessing transcripts of speeches and staff communications, such as memos from the White House Domestic Policy offices, memos from selected regulatory agencies and the Office of Management and Budget, as well as records in the Clinton, Reagan, George (H. W.) Bush, and Carter Presidential Libraries, Shafie also conducted in-depth interviews with administration personnel charged with formulating and implementing the executive rule changes. Based on his research, Shafie explains end-of-term rulemaking as an instrument of presidential prerogative power by mapping its evolution through five recent presidential transitions and exploring its effectiveness, consequences, and implications.

Giving consideration to recent efforts to limit interregnum rulemaking and to overturn specific late-term rules, as well as evaluating the prospects for future presidents to favor this instrument to advance their unfinished domestic policy priorities, Eleventh Hour offers groundbreaking research into the uses of executive power.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership


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pp. 1-3

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. vii-vii


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pp. ix-ix

List of Figures and Table

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pp. x-x

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pp. xi-xi

This book would not have been possible without the help of a number of people. Lori Cox Han showed her enthusiasm for this project when it was just the seed of an idea and continued to be an instrumental source of support as it developed. I also wish to thank my research assistants in the Henley Social Science Research Lab at Chapman University: Cassidy Gayner, Sara Juarez, ...

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pp. 1-5

On a chilly January morning in 2001, Bill Clinton was outside the National Arboretum near the Capitol Building, publicly reflecting on the environmental legacy of his presidency. The soon-to-be ex-president made few specific references to past accomplishments, focusing instead on what his administration was still doing. Clinton took the opportunity to announce newly adopted EPA rules ...

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1. Political Cycles and the President’s Agenda

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pp. 6-24

The days that followed the historic election of Barack Obama in 2008 as the forty-fourth president were filled with heady celebration as well as uncertainty. From the election until Inauguration Day, the national imagination was focused on the president-elect and his ideas to rescue the economy and end two wars, even though another ten weeks remained in the presidency of George W. Bush. ...

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2. Lame Ducks and Unilateralism

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pp. 25-39

Despite a limited policymaking role granted by the Constitution, recent presidents have expanded the influence of the office over the policy process through its leadership of the executive bureaucracy. Alexander Hamilton expressed the view that effective governance depends upon presidential leadership of the executive branch. The president’s role as the leader of the bureaucracy is ...

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3. Jimmy Carter’s Unfinished Agenda

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pp. 40-66

The weeks following Jimmy Carter’s loss in the 1980 election were some of the busiest of his presidency. Working with a lame duck Congress, Carter succeeded in creating the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in creating a fund to clean up abandoned toxic waste sites, the last (and largest) program of the “environmental decade.” Carter accomplished just as much acting on his own ...

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4. Ronald Reagan: Policy Retrenchment in a Friendly Takeover

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pp. 67-86

In September 1988, Office of Management and Budget director James Miller III released a report that articulated an agenda for the remainder of President Reagan’s second term. The White House that boasted about the easing or repealing of federal regulations now identified 451 significant regulatory changes it hoped to accomplish in its last four months. Eight years earlier the Reagan ...

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5. George H. W. Bush: Twilight Time for the Deregulation Revolution

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pp. 87-105

President George H. W. Bush began 1992 in a place he should perhaps have avoided: in chilly New Hampshire campaigning to fend off a primary challenge to his own renomination. His popularity had fallen precipitously over the past year, the economy was in recession, and he was facing criticism for breaking his pledge not to raise taxes. In addition to an icy reception from the ...

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6. Bill Clinton’s Last Campaign

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pp. 106-134

A “night deposit” was the label incoming OMB director Mitch Daniels gave to the collection of rules and regulatory proposals left behind by President Bill Clinton. Six months into the presidency of George W. Bush, his administration had completed a review of Clinton’s end-of-term rules and was in the process of overturning or modifying forty-five of them. One strategy in the effort to reverse ...

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7. Bush, Cheney, and Midnight Deregulation

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pp. 135-153

Two weeks after George W. Bush left the presidency, environmental activist and attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was on Capitol Hill offering the new Con-gress his interpretation of the Bush legacy. Kennedy told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law that the outgoing administration had undermined environmental laws when it issued a number ...

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8. Conclusion: Digging in and Running out the Clock

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pp. 154-168

A year before President Obama’s reelection, progressives were nervous. The stakes in any presidential election are high, but it was clear that the winner in 2012 would gain control of the federal bureaucracy and determine the direc-tion of domestic policies discussed in the preceding chapters. The Washington, DC-based Center for Progressive Reform sounded this alarm in the title of its ...

Appendix: Economically Significant Fourth-Quarter Rules

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pp. 169-173


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pp. 175-195


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pp. 197-211


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pp. 213-227

E-ISBN-13: 9781623490041
E-ISBN-10: 1623490049
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603449540

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership
Series Editor Byline: Pfiffner, James P. See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 859182608
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Eleventh Hour

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Executive power -- United States -- Case studies.
  • Administrative procedure -- United States.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Transition periods.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1981-1989.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1989-.
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