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Political Failure by Agreement

Learning Liberalism and the Welfare State

Gerhard Wegner

The purpose of this book is to reconsider economic liberalism from the viewpoint of political liberalism. The author argues that advocates of economic liberalism largely overlook empirical political preferences which, in many societies, go far beyond a limited role of the state. Recent difficulties of reforming the welfare state provide evidence that political preferences are at odds with liberal economic policy in numerous cases. This fact challenges a political conception which demands a limited state role but also claims that citizens’ preferences ‘as they are’ should determine the content of policies. Using an evolutionary perspective on economic liberalism, the book develops new arguments about how economic liberalism can be brought into line with political liberalism.
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Mary Reintsma

The welfare system in the United States underwent profound changes as a result of the groundbreaking welfare legislation passed in 1996 entitled The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). The Political Economy of Welfare Reform in the United States examines in detail the legislative process that gave rise to PRWORA and presents two alternative theories to explain this process; the traditional public interest model of government and the public choice model. On the basis of a detailed historical analysis of welfare programs and policies in the US, the author explains the two alternative theories and engages in a detailed institutional and statistical analysis to make a convincing argument for the validity of the public choice paradigm.