By Alan Verne Deardorff, Robert Mitchell Stern
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Additional resources for Constituent Interests and U.S. Trade Policies
The Transaction-Cost Approach to Policy Making While it seems clear that the normative approach to policy making suffers from its failure to incorporate political considerations that in fact prevent optimal policies from being undertaken, the political economy approach perhaps goes too far in the other direction. s. Trade Policies 37 nously, there is no scope for policy analysis itself to make any contribution. That is, the same model that tells us that the policy makers will use tariffs to protect special interests also tells us that it is useless to ask them to do otherwise.
Buchanan and Tulloch (1962), and later writings by Buchanan and others, distinguished between the individual policies made by policy makers and the framework, or constitution, within which those policy makers operate. As Dixit (1996) puts it, there is a distinction between policy acts and policy rules. Policy acts are determined endogenously by policy makers interacting with other interests and within the framework of constraints and incentives that the policy rules provide, and it is therefore useless to try to change those acts at that level.
S. Trade Policies 37 nously, there is no scope for policy analysis itself to make any contribution. That is, the same model that tells us that the policy makers will use tariffs to protect special interests also tells us that it is useless to ask them to do otherwise. They are, at least in the models that address their behavior explicitly, already behaving optimally given their incentives and constraints. They are already taking into account, to the extent they are willing, any effects on the broader social welfare that we might tell them about.