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Unformatted text preview: 10/23/11 General Understanding •  An Interest Group is just any group of ci;zens who share a common interest, whether it is a poli;cal opinion, religious affilia;on, ideological belief, social goal, or economic objec;ve, and that try to influence public policy to benefit their members. Interest Groups Chapter 13 The Logic of Lobbying •  In some countries, lobbying takes the form of corrup;on. That is, groups pay poli;cians for favors. •  In a modern democracy, lobbying is more formal and is regulated by the government to prevent graJ. •  “Special interests” oJen has a nega;ve connota;on, but we should keep in mind that there are a lot of different kinds of interest groups, covering the spectrum of poli;cal issues, and it’s not so easy to group them all together with one blanket term. The Logic of Lobbying •  But of course they do have a preQy lousy reputa;on, and some;mes deservedly so: 1 10/23/11 The Logic of Interest Groups •  Madison discussed fac;on in Federalist 10. Fac;ons were a threat: “The instability, injus;ce, and confusion introduced into the public councils,” are “in truth, the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished.” •  But we can’t get rid of them. This would either require us to destroy liberty or get everyone to conform to one way of thinking. What kinds of groups are there? •  Ideological groups •  Environmental groups •  Pro- life or pro- choice groups •  Social groups •  Religious groups •  Economic groups •  •  •  •  Corpora;ons Unions Trade Associa;ons Professional Associa;ons What kinds of groups are there? •  Walker offers a typology: •  An occupa;onal sector •  asdf •  Profit sector •  The Mortgage Bankers Associa;on, the Na;onal Tank Truck Conference, the Motorcycle Industry Council, the American Dental Associa;on •  Mixed sector •  Society of American Foresters, Na;onal Society of Professional Engineers •  Nonprofit sector •  Associa;on of American Medical Colleges, Na;onal Associa;on of Coun;es, American Associa;on of Homes for the Aged, Na;onal Associa;on of Student Financial Aid Administrators •  Nonoccupa;onal Ci;zen Groups •  Ci;zens for Clean Air, Common Cause, The Sierra Club 2 10/23/11 What kinds of groups are there? •  asdf The Pluralists •  The pluralist consensus started to crumble as scholars realized that the interest group community was biased towards certain kinds of groups. •  E. E. SchaQshneider: “The flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper- class accent.” The Pluralists •  We don’t need to worry about groups! •  Madison was basically a pluralist. •  Everyone is free to organize and everyone will – there will then be a balance of compe;ng interests. •  Groups are essen;al to the func;oning of democracy and not something to be loathed or feared. •  But this is only true if all interests are represented. What if some groups simply can’t organize? Interest Group Bias Why is the system biased? How is it biased? Mancur Olson provided the answers to these ques;ons. Some groups don’t get together because of free riding. How many groups are there that you agree with? How many do you donate to? •  Which groups are in a posi;on to “solve” the free- rider problem? •  •  •  •  3 10/23/11 Interest Group Bias •  Remember that public goods are vulnerable to free riding while private goods are not. •  Poli;cal ac;on on the environment is a public good – it is nonrival and nonexcludable, so we expect free riding to be quite common. •  A tax break that helps one company on the other hand… that’s a private good: both rival and excludable, so that firm is willing to lobby. Moreover, even if several firms exist that would benefit from the tax break, they are probably willing to lobby. •  It is easier to solve the free rider problem when the number of organiza;ons involved is small. •  It is easier to solve the free rider problem when each organiza;on has a lot at stake. Interest Group Bias •  Studies of how many groups there are and how much they spend have verified Olson’s ideas: industry is massively overrepresented compared to just about any other group of interests. Interest Group Bias •  So generally: •  •  •  •  Small groups will find it easier to organize than large groups Groups with deep pockets to begin with will find it easier Groups that have more at stake individually will find it easier How easy is it to piggyback on another group’s success? You need connec;ons. Interest Group Bias •  asdf 4 10/23/11 Interest Group Bias •  asdf Interest Group Bias •  asdf Interest Group Bias •  asdf Interest Group Bias •  asdf 5 10/23/11 Interest Group Organization •  Faced with the freerider problem, interest groups have to concentrate on their own survival. •  Maintain membership stability •  Maintain financial stability •  Olson suggested that the former could be accomplished by disbursing selec%ve incen%ves, but people also get solidary and expressive incen;ves out of par;cipa;on in groups. •  The need to maintain financial stability and membership stability may mean doing things that don’t directly contribute to providing whatever it is the group wants. What do Interest Groups do? •  The baQle is not won in the halls of Congress alone. •  A good group will: Mobilize grass roots Work the media Adver;se Promote public awareness Be ac;ve in elec;ons Work at every stage of the poli;cal process: legisla;ve, execu;ve, bureaucra;c, and judicial •  And at every level: local, state, and federal •  •  •  •  •  •  Why are there more groups now? •  People have more money and more free ;me. The cost of par;cipa;on is lower thanks to the internet, telephones, and so on. •  When a group mobilizes, its opponents mobilize too. •  As government becomes more complex, the public has more of a stake in what it does. •  Poli;cians and other government officials oJen encourage group forma;on. What do Interest Groups do? •  Different groups will specialize in different roles. •  Some will be 527s or PACs, looking to benefit par;cular candidates come elec;on ;me. •  Emily’s list, Susan B Anthony list. •  Some will be primarily lobbying organiza;ons •  Some will focus on li;ga;on •  And so on... 6 10/23/11 Interest Group Ads •  asdf Interest Group Ads •  asdf Interest Group Ads •  asdf Electoral Politics and PACs •  PACs were created by the Federal Elec;on Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971. •  FECA encouraged groups to form PACs by making it clear how they could legi;mately par;cipate in the electoral process. •  PACs must disclose their financial ac;vi;es, and can take a maximum contribu;on of $5,000 per candidate per campaign. •  It’s not clear that PACs are all that influen;al. The dona;ons are usually fairly small and there are PACs on both sides of most issues. 7 10/23/11 Electoral Politics and PACs •  There is liQle evidence that PACs corrupt the process by paying into poli;cian’s campaigns in exchange for influence. •  Instead, scholars find that PAC contribu;ons exert only a modest effect on a legislator’s decisions, most of which are shaped by party, ideology, and state or district interests. •  But money probably does buy you access. 8 ...
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