Article | American Journal of Political Science | May 1991

Presidential Commitment and the Veto

by Daniel E. Ingberman and Dennis Yao


A president's power to veto is widely recognized as an important weapon in the struggle with Congress over legislation. In this paper we investigate the effectiveness of the veto weapon with a simple model of presidential powers that incorporates informal institutional structure--the president's unique position as the focus of public attention--into an otherwise standard agenda-control model of the formal institutional structure governing the legislative process. We show that the president can exploit this public attention to make commitments regarding his veto intentions that, given the formal institutional structure, will enhance the value of the veto. One implication of the model is that commitment over "principles" (e.g., no taxes) will sometimes be more effective than commitment over "degree" (e.g., 3.2% tax rate). In addition, a president can sometimes improve his utility by making commitments that ultimately lead to a veto that is overridden.

Keywords: Government Legislation; Laws and Statutes; Financial Markets; Value; Taxation; Conflict and Resolution; Research; Performance Effectiveness; Legal Services Industry;


Ingberman, Daniel E., and Dennis Yao. "Presidential Commitment and the Veto." American Journal of Political Science 35, no. 2 (May 1991): 357–389. (Harvard users click here for full text.)