Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Clocks, Caps, Compartments, and Carve‐Outs: Creating Federal Fiscal Capacity Despite Strong Veto Powers

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Abstract:  This article examines four mechanisms for establishing federal spending programmes despite tough opposition based on identity or ideological politics, as well as disputes between haves and have-nots. It contrasts the use of clocks (time limits), caps, compartments (special justification for spending that would otherwise have been rejected), and carve-outs (exemptions to federal spending programmes to buy off objecting veto players) to secure political support for national-level programmes, and asks under what conditions those limits might be breached. We look at the EU, Canada, and the US. These tactics are most successful at “getting to yes” for federal authorities when they can isolate individual objections. As long as those objections persist, the limits will persist as well.

Keywords:  budget politics; Canada; European Union; fiscal federalism; political economy; redistribution; state‐building; United States



© Shawn Donnelly. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.