Taking the Initiative shows that majority party leaders in Congress have set and successfully pushed their own policy agendas for decades - revealing the 'Contract With America' as only the most recent, and certainly not the most successful, example of independent policy making. Cutting deeply into the politics and personalities of three decades of party leadership, John B. Bader probes the strategies and evaluates the effectiveness of House and Senate leaders operating in a divided government, when Congress and the presidency are controlled by different political parties. He provides a historical context for analyzing the Contract and shows that aggressive agenda-setting has long been a regular feature of majority party leadership. Bader interviewed more than seventy congressional leaders, staff members, party officials, and political consultants, including speakers Thomas Tip O'Neill and Jim Wright, for this book. He supplemented these interviews with research in largely unexplored archival materials such as press conference transcripts, notes from White House leadership meetings, and staff memoranda on strategy.