John Wilkerson (Professor, CAPPP Director), Nicholas Stramp (Graduate Fellow), and David Smith (Assistant Professor, College of Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University) continued to develop their analysis of the origins of the Affordable Care Act with “Tracing the Flow of Policy Ideas in Legislatures: A Text Reuse Approach.” The paper has been presented at numerous academic conferences throughout the U.S. and Europe (latest conference paper), featured on The Monkey Cage blog. and most recently featured as a Daily Chart by The Economist.
The broad goals of this NSF-funded project are to determine whose ideas and proposals prevail in Congress. Legislative scholars have traditionally studied important subjects such as legislative effectiveness and agenda control by studying the progress of bills. In chapter 7 of Congress and the Politics of Problem Solving, Wilkerson and Adler show that using bills for these purposes has important limitations. Bills are “vehicles” for policy ideas. Often the successful sponsor of a bill that becomes law is a committee or subcommittee chair who claims the credit for a collective policy development process involving “must pass” legislation such as a program reauthorization or a law passed in response to a salient external event.