April, 2009

A Dozen Dangerous Presumptions of Crisis Policymaking

  • Robert Higgs

    Senior Fellow in Political Economy and Editor of the Independent Review, Independent Institute
Key materials
Contact us
To speak with a scholar or learn more on this topic, visit our contact page.

Throughout U.S. history, Congress and the president have adopted many critically important policies in great haste during brief periods of perceived national emergency. Any government policymaking on an important matter entails serious risks, but crisis policymaking stands apart from the more deliberate process in which new legislation or regulation is usually adopted. Because formal institutional changes—however hastily they might have been made—have a strong tendency to become entrenched, remaining in effect for many years and sometimes for many decades, crisis policymaking has played an important part in generating long-term growth of government through a ratchet effect in which “temporary” emergency measures have expanded the government’s size, scope, or power permanently.