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Interest Groups


Interest Groups A Necessary Evil? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Interest Groups

Interest Groups
  • A Necessary Evil?

Learning Objectives
  • After studying this topic, students should be
    able to
  • Distinguish the essential differences between
    interest groups and political parties
  • Understand three basic theories of interest group
  • Pluralist theory,
  • Elite theory,
  • Hyperpluralist theory.
  • Determine the factors that tend to make an
    interest group successful.
  • Differentiate between a potential group and an
    actual group, and determine how the
  • free-rider problem applies.
  • Explain how interest groups try to shape public
    policy and how lobbyists represent
  • interest groups in influencing the legislative
  • Describe 4 types of interest groups Economic,
    Business, Labor, Public Interest Groups
  • Analyze the appropriate role of interest groups
    within a democratic environment.

  • Jon Stewart Interviews Grover Norquist, President
    of Americans for Tax Reform, a taxpayer
    advocacy/interest group
  • Those Who Have Taken the Pledge
  • 238 Representatives
  • 41 Senators
  • Only 1 Democrat

Daily Show Grover Norquist
60 Minutes Grover Norquist
Interest Group
  • Definition Organization dedicated to a certain
    unified cause with the primary goal of
    influencing public policy to their benefit
  • Present at every level of government
  • How do political parties and interest groups
  • Parties nominate candidates, contest elections,
    and seek to gain control of government v. IG
    seek to support public officials influence
    public policies
  • Parties Policy generalists v. IG Policy
  • Parties Responsible to voters v. IG resp. to

Daily Show--Interest Groups
Colbert--Democrats, Republicans, and Lobbyists
Colbert--Better Know A Lobby (Meat Industry-start
video at 145)
Over 22,000 I.G.Why Are There So Many?
  • Variety of Divisive Issues Many interests
  • Federalism?
  • Dealignment/Weakening Political Parties
  • Campaign Finance Reform Act?
  • Made It Legal to Form PACs (FECA of 1974)
  • 1st Amendment?
  • Expanded Role of Govt
  • Billions in federal available

Basic Functions
  • Represent Specific Interests
  • Educate Raise Awareness
  • Linkage Institution
  • Agenda Setting
  • Influence Actions of Government
  • What bills/laws are written how they are
    written if theyre passed
  • Enforcement of Laws

What Determines the Effectiveness of Interest
  • Common Characteristics
  • Financial Resources
  • Hire lobbyists, support PACs, write amicus curiae
  • Organizational Skills
  • Intensity
  • Often single issue groups w/ narrow focus able to
    mobilize intensely committed members smaller
  • Size of the group?
  • A large group may have a lot of sway, but more
    subject to the Free-Rider problem
  • Small groups are easier to organize/rally
  • Business I.G.
  • Many financial resources Contribute heavily to
  • Many been around long so connections w/ Congress
  • Push for narrow, minute tax laws most dont notice

Categories/Types of I.G.
  • Business/Labor/Agricultural Groups (Economic)
  • Form to promote/protect economic interests
  • Well funded/either rep. large constituencies or
    employs one
  • Professional Associations
  • Environmental groups
  • Public Interest Single Issue
  • Org. around well defined set of policy issues
  • Some Single Issue Powerful b/c intensity of
  • P. I. Groups Usually concerned w/ environment,
    consumer protection, civil rights
  • Government Interest Groups
  • States/cities now employ lobbyistswhy?
  • What role might mandates play in this?

AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor-Congress of
Industrial Organization) ranked 5 American
Association of Retired Persons (AARP) ranked 1
American Bankers Association ranked 11
American Farm Bureau Federation ranked 21
American Federation of State, County, and
Municipal Employees (AFSCME) ranked 22
American Israel Public Affairs Committee ranked
4 American Medical Association ranked 13
Association of Trial Lawyers of America ranked
6 Chamber of Commerce ranked 7 Credit
Union National Association ranked 18 Health
Insurance Association of America ranked 25
International Brotherhood of Teamsters ranked
23 Motion Picture Association of America
ranked 17 National Association of
Broadcasters ranked 20 National Association
of Home Builders ranked 16 National
Association of Manufacturers ranked 14
National Association of Realtors ranked 15
National Beer Wholesalers Association ranked
19 National Education Association (NEA)
ranked 9 National Governor's Association
ranked 12 National Federation of Independent
Business ranked 3 National Restaurant
Association ranked 10 National Right to Life
Committee ranked 9 National Rifle Association
(NRA) ranked 2 United Auto Workers (UAW)
ranked 24
  • Madison
  • Why did Madison argue the Constitution would
    protect against the effects of factions/special
  • Federalism/Separation of Powers
  • Theory Power decentralized/balanced
  • Practice creates divisions and access points
  • Federalists Anti-Federalists
  • Growth of Interest Groups
  • 1830s Most, single issueAbolitionists
  • 1890-1920s Progressive Eragroups for reform
  • 1950-1970s Groups form in support of minorities,
    the poor, elderly, consumers (Nader)

Fundamental Goals of Interest Groups
  1. Gain access to policymakers
  2. Influence public policy
  3. Support sympathetic policymakers

I.G. Strategies
  • Lobbying Process by which interest groups
    attempt to influence the decisions of
  • Carried out by Lobbyists
  • Approx. 30,000 lobbyists spend 2 billion/yr.
    lobbying Congressalone
  • Target govt. officials, esp. legislators/
  • Key Target Undecided leg. or bureaucratWhy?
  • Regulatory Agencies
  • Goal pursue their leg. Agenda influence appt.

NRA Stands Its Ground v. Surgeon General Nominee
I.G. Strategies
  • My boss demands a speech and a statement for the
    Congressional Record for every bill we introduce
    or co-sponsorand we have a lot of bills. I just
    cant do it all myself. The better lobbyists,
    when they have a proposal they are pushing, bring
    it to me along with a couple of speeches, a
    Record insert, and a fact sheet.Congressional
  • Testify before Congressional Committees
    executive agencies experts
  • Provide members of Congress with information
  • Must appear reliable/trustworthy provide
    accurate credible infobut biased
  • Help craft/write legislation
  • Bring influential constituents to D.C. to meet w/

I.G. Strategies
  • Amicus Curiae Briefs
  • Social Functions
  • Fine Dining Experiences
  • Endorsement
  • Publicly announce support
  • Rally membership/grassroots
  • Get public involved organized

I.G. Strategies
  • Contributing to Candidates
  • Financial support to candidates parties that
    support their cause/interest
  • Political Action Committees (PAC)
  • Formed by business, labor, or I.G. to raise money
    and make contributions to the campaign of
    political candidates whom they support.
  • Goal Influence elections to gain better access
    to politicians
  • Make large contributions to incumbent members of
    the House
  • Contribute to House members who serve on
    committees/subcommittees that consider
    legislation affecting the I.G.
  • Limited to 5,000 direct contributionsbut
    Citizens United

Power of Lobbying
I.G. Strategies
  • Shaping Public Opinion
  • Use expensive P.R. campaigns to bring issues to
    publics attention
  • Use ads to promote their image
  • May use grass roots strategies
  • i.e. visible protests (civil rights orgs)

Oil/Natural Gas Commercial
Lobbying the Executive and Courts
  • Executive
  • Most presidents have a staffer to act as a
    gateway between interest groups and the
  • Interest groups pay close attention to gaining
    access to regulatory agencies of the exec. branch
  • Courts
  • Judicial branch designed to be free from public
    opinion, but
  • Submit amicus curiae briefs
  • Use of litigation to achieve goals (NAACP)
  • Prominent role influencing nominees to Supreme
    and Federal Courts

Discussion Prompt
  • Are lobbyists buying access to our politicians
    and having undue influence on our elections? How
    are these groups impacting policy?
  • How does the influence of special interests
    impact our federal deficit and debt? Why?

(No Transcript)
Accessing Lawmakers The Revolving Door
  • Contacting officialsmeeting privatelyHow do
    lobbyists gain access?
  • Revolving Door
  • The movement of individuals between roles as
    legislators/staffers/regulators and the
    industries affected by the legislation and
  • Over 5,800 congressional staffers and former
    lawmakers have left Capitol Hill to become
    federal lobbyists in the past 10 years
  • Why are so many people on Capitol Hill recruited
    as lobbyists?
  • What is the impact of the revolving door? How
    does this influence legislation?

Revolving Door at Work
60 Minutes Under the Influence
Revolving Door at Work
  • As Bush Sr.'s Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney
    steered millions of dollars in government
    business to a private military contractor Brown
    and Root Services -- whose parent company
    Halliburton just happened to give him a
    multi-million dollar job after he left the

An Inside Look into the Revolving Door
  • If retiring from the Senate meant the same
    thing it meant in the real world moving to
    Florida, buying a condo and playing golf Coats
    could be excused for wanting to return to his
    more exciting old life. But senators rarely leave
    the esteemed body because they want to sit by the
    pool and work on crossword puzzles.
  • No, senators retire for three possible
    reasons. First, theyre frustrated with the
    Senate the travel, the long days and, often,
    though not in Coatss case, the difficulty of
    passing legislation from the minority party.
    Second, they think theyre going to lose, and
    they dont want to face a lengthy and difficult
    reelection bid. Third, they wish to parlay their
    power and influence into financial gain. Brian

Attempted Limits on Lobbying
  • Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act
  • Require lobbyists register disclose salaries,
    their employers, expenses, nature of activities
    (bills/issues lobby on behalf)
  • Defined who was considered a lobbyist
  • Ethics in Government Act 1978
  • created the U.S. Office of Independent Counsel
  • investigate government officials
  • Increased length of time an individual must wait
    between leaving government position/office and
    lobbying privately the govt. agency he or she
    worked for to 2 years
  • Currently ONLY 1 YEARHow might this open door
    for corruption?
  • Loopholes? Consultant
  • Lobbyists Disclosure Act of 1995
  • Extends def. of lobbyist to include part-timers

Should there be stronger regulations to curb the
revolving door?
Monetary Limits
  • McCain Feingold Citizens Limited to 2,300 per
    candidate in primary general fed. Elections
  • 20,000 to pol. parties 5,000 to PACS
  • Adjusted for inflation
  • PACs limited to 5,000 to any one candidate
    15,000 to national party
  • ButCitizens United v. Federal Election
    Commission has changed the gameHow?

  • Typical Members Are
  • Above average income and education
  • Generally white collar
  • But represent a lot of blue collar interests?
  • Free rider get benefits without the effort
  • Negatives to Membership
  • SelfishPromote self-interests of the group
  • Expensivecosts to lobby promote interests
  • Legalized Bribery?

Who Has Power and Influence in the U.S.?
  • Elitist Theory
  • Small of super rich individuals, powerful
    corporate interest groups, and large financial
    instit. dominate key policy areas
  • PACs encourage close connection b/n money and
    politics (Business PACs undue influence over
  • Citizens with lower or moderate incomes speak
    with a whisper that is lost on the ears of
    inattentive government officials, while the
    advantaged roar with a clarity and consistency
    that policymakers readily hear and routinely
    follow American Political Science Association

Who Has Power and Influence in the U.S.
  • Pluralist Theory
  • Many interest groups compete for power in large
    number of policy areas thus, public policy
    emerges from bargaining and compromise
  • Argue 1 group cant dominate system b/c system of
    federalism and sep. of powers provides many
    points of access and influence
  • Argue I.G. that lacks financial resources can
    turn to courts
  • Hyperpluralist Theory
  • Too many interest groups trying to influence
  • Efforts to appease competing I.G. leads to
    confusing and contradictory policies or officials
    avoiding hard choices

Discussion Questions
  • Do interest groups promote the public interest?
    In your response discuss elitism, pluralism, or
  • Do interest groups lead to gridlock or do they
    serve as an unofficial part of checks and
  • The essence of democracy is civic participation
    and I.G. embody such participation. If a few such
    groups dominated, there would be a problem, but
    Madison in Federalist 10 says the U.S. and
    federal system are too big for that to happen.
    Agree or Disagree?

To consider
  • Do interest groups promote the public interest?
    In your response discuss elitism, pluralism, or
  • How do the various components of the iron
    triangle work together to set public policy?

Iron Triangle/Subgovernments
  • Shared web of interests that connect Cong.
    Committees/sub-committees exec. branch agencies
    and interest groups

Iron Triangles
Congressional Committee Needs info, votes,
campaign contributions
  • Interest Group
  • Offers political support to appointees
    elected officials
  • Needs laws and regulations benefiting members

Executive Agency Needs political support,
appropriations, and info
Review Political Parties v. Interest Groups
  • Political Parties
  • Interest Groups
  • Policy Generalists
  • Goal
  • Elect people to office
  • Gain control of govt.
  • Policy Specialists
  • Goal
  • Influence public policy
  • Influence Congress/Govt.

Colbert--Better Know A Lobby (Meat Industry-start
video at 145)