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Unformatted text preview: Interest Groups Interest Outline Outline What are Interest Groups? Why Interest Groups are controversial Why A Historical Perspective on Interest Groups Major Organized Interests – AARP, NRA, Israeli Lobby, Business interests Money in Politics – How various groups split their contributions between Republicans How and Democrats Campaign Contributions – Group contributions – Profile of individuals who give money The Basics Interest Groups Interest – What is an interest group? » Simple definition: Any association of individuals that attempts to influence public policy influence Interest groups represent the politically motivated component of Interest what is called “civil society” or “pluralism” what “Civil society” describes a society whose people have many varied Civil interests…and people with like interests tend to organize into groups (e.g., a camping group, a reading club, etc.) groups – What does an interest group do? » Interest groups fund candidates for office Interest » Run TV ads promoting or opposing candidates Run » Produce voter guides, recommending to their members for which Produce candidates to vote » Offer membership services (discounts on hotels and rental cars and even Offer low-interest loans) low-interest » Lobby the president, congress, and the courts to promote their policy Lobby agenda; they provide expertise on policy and sometimes write legislation agenda; Interest Groups Interest Why are interest groups so controversial today? – Money Corrupts – Some believe that the money interest groups put into the political system is corrupting, that politicians are bought off and consequently only support the interest of “the few” » The premise behind campaign finance reform is to curtail the power The of interest groups in American politics of – Interest Groups Empower People – Others argue that interest groups give their members/contributors a voice in the system they wouldn’t otherwise have system » Also, interest groups are compatible with an advanced society that Also, increasingly depends on a division-of-labor: In between elections, while members/contributors tend to their In hobbies, careers, and families, the interest groups that represent them fight for the causes they support them Social Movements = Interest Groups Social A Historical Perspective – Social movements have had a profound effect changing the Social policies of our government throughout US history…these movements often spawn interest groups to sustain their causes movements » The Indians – Indian rights groups fought for better treatment and for a “safety-net” welfare system for the Indians (late 1800s) and » Women – Women’s rights groups fought and won the right to vote in the early 20th Century and later for greater acceptance of vote women in the workplace women » Blacks – The NAACP fought for voting rights and rights to education and to the workplace for African-Americans in the 1950s – 1970s 1950s » Free Speech/Civil Liberties – The ACLU fought for and won greater recognition of free speech rights throughout the 20th greater Century and today are pushing our leaders to uphold American’s civil liberty tradition in the war on terrorism civil » Drunk Driving – MADD fought to enact laws against drunk driving in the 1980s driving Group Membership Group Group membership is high in America. Civil society thrives here more so than in most other democracies Major Organized Interest Groups Major A Few of the Powerful Interests in America Business Farmers Lawyers Unions Religious Groups Civil Liberty Groups Senior Citizens Defense Contractors The Question: Do they have too much influence in the political system? The Political Power Brokers The The most powerful interest groups in America – 1997 Fortune Magazine Poll – 2001 Fortune Magazine Poll » Am. Assoc. of Retired Persons (AARP) » National Rifle Association (NRA) » Am. Israel Public Affairs Committee » Am Assoc. of Retired Persons (AARP) Am. (AIPAC) (AIPAC) » National Federation of Independent National » AFL-CIO Business Business » National Federation of Independent » American-Israel Public Affairs National American-Israel Business Committee (AIPAC) Business Committee » Association of Trial Lawyers of » Association of Trial Lawyers Association America America » AFL-CIO » National Rifle Association (NRA) » Chamber of Commerce » Christian Coalition » National Beer Wholesalers Assoc. » American Medical Association » National Assoc. of Realtors » National Education Association (NEA) » National Assoc. of Manufacturers The Political Power Brokers The AARP – American Association of Retired People The AARP is very well organized and funded. It exists to see to it that The Congress fully funds Social Security and Medicare. No politician would dare to advocate cutting or eliminated these programs would The Israeli Lobby The American-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) is very powerful America’s support for Israel is guaranteed Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid No politician would dare speak ill of Israel Anti-American sentiment is high in the Arab and Muslim World in part because of the US bias toward Israel Arab Attitudes Toward America Arab Notice the high numbers for “stop supporting Israel” The Political Power Brokers The National Rifle Association (NRA) – The NRA has been very effective promoting the rights of The gun owners, particularly in the last 15 years gun » 39 states have concealed weapon laws, which allow law abiding citizens 39 to carry guns, not just law enforcement officers to » NRA capitalized on anti-Clinton sentiment in the mid 1990s to increase NRA its membership…after 9/11, NRA membership soared its – Democratic presidential nominees are particularly Democratic concerned about the influence of the NRA concerned » Clinton (1992 & 1996), Gore (2000), and Kerry (2004) each made a Clinton point about their support of hunting as a sport point In 2004, Kerry made sure the media photographed him carrying a In rifle while on a hunting trip…gun owners’ rights was not an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign the – Evidence of the power of the NRA » Obama signed a gun amendment tacked onto a bill addressing credit card Obama reform, which allows licensed gun owners to “carry” in national parks reform, The Political Power Brokers The Business’ Promotion of Free Trade The trend was toward more free trade, but that trend has The slowed: opposition is strengthening slowed: – 1988: US-Canada Free Trade Agreement – more trade between US and Canada and – 1993: North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – more trade among US, Canada and Mexico trade – 2005: Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) – more trade among US, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Dominican Republic Salvador, » Vote-buying in Congress necessary to pass CAFTA…not strong Vote-buying support in Congress support – 2008: US-Columbia free trade agreement was held up in US House. » The free trade proposal is currently dead—President Obama and The Democratic Congress have objections to this proposal Democratic – Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) » Socialist-oriented leaders in South America opposed to Socialist-oriented extending free trade to the entire Western Hemisphere extending Business Trumps Human Rights Despite China’s dismal human rights record, business interests trump because of the money-making potential of selling products and services to a rising middle class in China Pride Trumps Business Despite money-making opportunities in Cuba, Castro is a symbol of resistance to American power and has embarrassed a string of American presidents Though Obama hopes to warm relations and eventually open trade with Cuba The Political Power Brokers The Business’ Resistance to Free Trade The Farm Lobby is staunchly opposed to “free trade” – Since the 1930s, the federal government has supported farmers with Since subsidies (cash payments), quotas (restrictions on the amount agricultural products produced to boost prices for farmers), and tariff policy (high taxes on imported agricultural products) tariff World Trade Organization (WTO) Rules Against US – In a case involving US subsidies to cotton farmers, the WTO ruled In against America and has approved $4 billion in punitive tariffs against » Brazil, Chad and Benin will be allowed to raise tariffs for imported Brazil, products from America, making those products more expensive to buy and thus hurting American business buy Agricultural trade practices are unlikely to change – Despite the “free trade” orientation of the US, US leaders fear the Despite ramifications of going against a very powerful Farm lobby » Obama’s FY2009 budget proposal cut farm subsidies, but Congress Obama’s will not make these cuts will Rating Politicians Rating Interest groups provide Interest their members ratings on politicians, to measure the degree to which politicians support the cause the interest group represents represents For instance, the ADA For (liberal) rates liberal politicians favorably and conservative politicians unfavorably unfavorably Voters Guides Voters Like many other interest groups, the Christian Coalition provides its member with recommendation for whom to vote on Election Day In this example, the Christian Coalition strongly endorsed Bush in 2004 Top Contributors to Politicians and Political Parties (since 1989) Seven (7) of the top 10 contributors are unions Realtors, Trial Lawyers, and the American Medical Association (doctors) are among the 10 top contributors Various businesses are prominent among the top 50 contributors Money in Politics Money The Energy Lobby In 2010, energy companies (i.e., oil & gas, electric utilities, In mining, etc.) donated $64 million to congressional candidates mining, 63% - Republicans 37% - Democrats Money in Politics Money The Farm Lobby In 2010, the farm lobby (agribusiness) donated $52 million to In congressional candidates congressional 62% - Republicans 38% - Democrats Money in Politics Money Trial Lawyer In 2010, lawyers law firms and law firms donated $162 million In to congressional candidates to 74% - Democrats 26% - Republicans Money in Politics Money Pharmaceutical Industry In 2010, the pharmaceutical industry donated $13 million to In congressional candidates congressional 51% - Democrats 49% - Republicans Is Money Corrupting? Is The premise behind campaign finance reform is that money The corrupts politics corrupts – In 2002, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) was passed 1) Banned “soft money” donations to the political parties 2) Raised “hard money” contribution limits to candidates and parties Individuals can contribute $2300 to a candidate (adjusted for Individuals inflation every year), up from $1000 before the 2002 law was passed passed 3) Banned “issue advocacy” ads that mention a candidate’s name 30 Banned days prior to a primary or 60 days prior to a general election (unless the ad is paid for with “hard money”) the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) » The US Supreme court struck down provision #3 (shown above) Corporations and Labor Unions can now spend unlimited Corporations dollars funding campaign ads for or against candidates dollars » President Obama believes this decision gives too much power to President corporations and wants Congress to enact legislation to effectively – Is Money Corrupting? Is What is Soft Money? – Soft Money was banned by the 2002 Campaign Finance Law » They were unlimited donations to political parties (both national They and state parties) that could be used to mobilize voters and to pay for “overhead and administrative costs” for “Soft money” could also be used to purchase “issue Soft advertisements” on radio and TV advertisements” – However, the ads were prohibited from “express However, advocacy”…phrases like “vote for” or “vote against” or “elect or “support” were prohibited “elect” – Soft money has been diverted to IRS defined “527 Organizations” » In the 2004 presidential cycle, MoveOn.org (anti-Bush) and the In Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (anti-Kerry) emerged as influential Swift » “527 organizations” can raise unlimited amounts of money and 527 these organizations have no limits on advertising for or against candidates candidates What is Hard Money? What Money donated from individuals and “Political Action Committees” (PACs) to candidates, political parties (national and state), and other PACs PACs Is Money Corrupting? Is The Iron Triangle – The theory: interest groups, powerful law-writing interest congressional committees, and entrenched bureaucrats in executive agencies all collude together to maintain and expand programs that only benefit a few special interests programs “The people” really The have no say in this system…where is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people? and Campaign Contributions Campaign The vast majority of campaign donations go to incumbents, who win reelection about 90% of the time Special interests understand that incumbents are more likely to win, and they want to gain favor with the winner, so it is in their interest to donate more money to the favored candidate Campaign Contributions Campaign A Typical US Senate Campaign Individuals give more money to incumbent Senators than Political Action Committees (PACs) Campaign Contributions Campaign What Demographic Contributes Most? White Men, fairly wealthy, older and moderately conservative, who have reason to contact a member of Congress multiple times Conclusions Conclusions Should the influence of interest groups be curtailed? – Campaign finance laws are an attempt to reduce the power of Campaign interest groups (to not much avail) interest – Arizona and Maine are experimenting with “clean elections” Arizona (public financing of political candidates) (public » Former Governor Napolitano (D-AZ) was elected twice as a Former publicly-financed candidate publicly-financed Or should we accept interest groups as a healthy Or component of “plural” political culture? component – One measure of the health of a democracy is the number of One voluntary associations that exist…the higher the number the better voluntary – Interest groups give voice to members who might not otherwise Interest have one or who may be interested in concentrating on something other than politics (hobbies, family, career, religion) other ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2011 for the course POLS 1336 taught by Professor Mcfaden during the Spring '08 term at University of Houston.

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