For Members of Congress, becoming a committee chairman means more power to spend and thus help for the home district, right? That's certainly the common wisdom. But according to new research from Harvard Business School, the increased federal spending causes local companies to lose sales and cut back on research, payroll and other expenses.
The results surprised Harvard professors Lauren Cohen, Christopher Malloy and Joshua Coval, who expected to see politically connected firms prosper from federal largesse. Instead, the research, which covered 1967 to 2008, found that "strong and widespread evidence of corporate retrenchment" accompanied Congressional seniority. According to Mr. Coval, the research shows federal dollars "directly supplant private sector activity—they literally undertake projects the private sector was planning to do on its own."