Poli-Sci APT Chapter 10
Poli-Sci APT Chapter 10 POL_SC 1100 - 02
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Date Created: 11/04/15
American Government Chapter 10 The Interest Group Universe Interest Groups: an organization of people who share common political interests and aim to inﬂuence public policy by electioneering and lobbying. • Lobbying: efforts to inﬂuence public policy through contact with public ofﬁcials on behalf of an interest group. •involves persuasion - reports, protests, informal meetings - all in order to convince an elected ofﬁcial to help enact a law. •deals with policy changes that are intended to help only a small fraction of the population expense of everyone else. •Public Citizen - political organization that conducts research projects and try to rally public opinion on environmental, health, and energy issues. •AAA - provides emergency roadside service and maps, but many people are not aware that AAA is also an interest group that lobbies for increased funding for highways and for less funding for mass transit. •You may think you don’t belong to a group that lobbies the federal government, but the odds are that you do. pluralism - identiﬁes interest groups as America’s fundamental political actors. interest group states: a government in which most policy decisions are determined by the inﬂuence of interest groups. The Business of Lobbying •heavily regulated. •lobbying ﬁrms must ﬁle annual reports identifying their clients and specifying how much each client paid. •lobbying today - billions of dollars a year. •elected ofﬁcials who become lobbyists must wait 2 years. trade association: an interest group composed of companies in the same business or industry (the same “trade”) that lobbies for policies that beneﬁt members of the group. Organizational Structures Centralized Groups: interest groups that have a headquarters, usually in Washington D.C, as well as members & ﬁeld ofﬁces throughout the country. Where decisions are made by group leaders. •controls all of the groups resources and can deploy them efﬁciently • Confederations: interest groups made up of several independent, local organizations that provide much of their funding and hold most of the power. •comprised of largely independent local organizations. •advantage - maintaining independent chapters at the state and local levels •however, when local chapters send money to headquarters to be used for campaign contributions, they also specify which candidate is to receive it. •results in conﬂict over different local chapters disagreeing over what to lobby for and which candidates to support. Staff •interest group staff - 2 categories. •experts on the group’s main policy areas, & people with useful government connections and knowledge of procedures. •First group - scientists, engineers, & other advanced degrees. •Second group - dominated by people who work inside gov’m as elected ofﬁcials, bureaucrats, or legislative staff. revolving door: the movement of individuals from gov’m positions to jobs with interest groups or lobbying ﬁrms, and vice versa. •transition: lobbyist to an ofﬁceholder. •concern - using personal ties from former gov’m careers as a way of getting favored as a future employee and increasing their chances of getting hired all due to personal ties. •Obama policy - points out issues of the revolving door. •objection to policy - former ofﬁceholders are well qualiﬁed to work in the executive branch. •possible backﬁre - may lead to shortage of experienced candidates for gov’m position. •conclusion - it is difﬁcult to craft a solution for this problem of hiring staff. Membership Mass Associations: interest groups that have a large number of dues-paying individuals as members. •ex: Sierra Club - over 2 million members who pay a $30 annual fee, which keeps the members informed about the implementation of environmental policy in Washington D.C., endorses judicial nominees & candidates for elected positions, ﬁles lawsuits to increase environmental protection on gov’m projects, & works with members of congress in order to develop legislative proposals. Peak Associations: interest groups whose members are businesses or other organizations rather than individuals. •ex: Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). This business, which consists of several hundred businesses and trade associations aims to elect “pro-business individuals” to Congress. •Individuals cannot join peak associations, must work for member company or organization. Resources •interest groups use to support their lobbying efforts. 1) People 2) Money 3) Expertise People •crucial resource for most interest groups - membership. •using people as resources creates 2 major challenges •1st challenge - requires having members & recruiting new members. Difﬁcult & expensive. •2nd challenge - motivating the members to participate. Money •goes toward campaigning contributions & developing ads and funds interest groups everyday operations. •more money - more opportunities for campaign strategy. •even though Sallie Mae spent a considerable amount of cash on lobbying against direct student loans, it was unable to prevent this policy change. Expertise •having knowledge of political factors provides good source of information. •can use found research and knowledge to argue for policy changes. •helps a group gain access to congressional or bureaucratic ofﬁces. •allows much more opportunity to present argument based on credibility of being an expert. Getting Organized •new interest groups top priority - get organized. •getting organized - raising the money needed to hire staff, renting an ofﬁce, setting up a website, and formulating policy goals and a lobbying strategy. The Logic of Collective Action collective action problem: a situation in which the members of a group would beneﬁt by working together to produce some outcome, but each individual is better off refusing to cooperate and reaping beneﬁts from those who do the work. •group formation is not automatic and attracting members that see the beneﬁts in participating, which is rare, thus leaving the group leaders lacking members. free riding: the result of relying on others to contribute to a collective effort while failing to participate on one’s own behalf, yet still beneﬁting from the groups successes. •like-minded people: college students. Solidary Beneﬁts: satisfaction derived from the experience of working with like-minded people, even if the group’s efforts do not achieve desired goal. •result of working with like-minded people. Purposive Beneﬁts: satisfaction derived from the experience of working toward a desired policy goal, even if the goal is not achieved. •result of working to achieve a desired policy goal. Coercion: a method of eliminating nonparticipation or free riding by potential group members by requiring participation, as in many labor unions. •2nd way to solve free rider problem. •coercion - requiring participation •ex: labor unions - provide public goods to workers by negotiating with management on behalf of worker- members overpay and work requirements. Selective Incentives: beneﬁts that can motivate participation in a group effort b/c they’re available only to those who participate, such as member services offered by interest groups. •beneﬁts given only to the members of an interest group. •an individual can only receive a selective incentive by joining the group. •created in hopes of providing a new reason to participate. Interest Group Strategies •after organizing goals, next step is to decide how to lobby. •2 tactics for lobbying - inside and outside strategies. Inside Strategies: tactics employed within Washington D.C. Outside Strategies: tactics employed outside of Washington D.C. Inside Strategies •involves some sort of contact with elected ofﬁcials or bureaucrats. Direct Lobbying: attempts by interest group staff to inﬂuence policy by speaking with elected ofﬁcials or bureaucrats. •aimed at elected ofﬁcials who are sympathetic to groups goals. •do not attempt to convert opponents into supporters; rather help like- minded legislators secure policy changes wanted in both parties. Drafting Legislation and Regulations •interest groups do not give proposals to just anyone, they seek out legislators who already support their cause and who have signiﬁcant inﬂuence in Congress. •interest groups can increase their chances of success by getting involved in the initial drafting. Research •prepared research reports provide much purpose, including that they sway the public opinion or help persuade elected ofﬁcials, and directly inﬂuence the industry. Hearings •interest group staff often testify before congressional committees. •aimed to inform members of Congress about issues that matter to the interest group. Litigation •taking the gov’m to court. •interest groups can argue that the gov’m actions are not consistent with the constitution or that the gov’m has misinterpreted the existing law. •negative of litigation - costly & time- consuming. Working Together •legislators are more likely to respond, or at least provide access, when many groups with large/diverse memberships are all asking for the same thing. •each group can contribute different resource. •problem - groups may agree on general goal, but disagree on speciﬁcs, thereby requiring negotiation. Outside Strategies •cross-country activity. grassroots lobbying: a lobbying strategy that relies on participation by group members, such as a protest or a letter- writing campaign. •ex: sending letters, telephone calls, participation in protest, mass protests. •mass protests - seek to draw attention with the idea of publicizing the group’s goals and perhaps gaining new members or ﬁnancial support. astroturf lobbying: any lobbying method initiated by an interest group that is designed to look like the spontaneous, independent participation of many individuals. Mobilizing Public Opinion •strategy - change what the public thinks of an issue. •goal is not to get citizens to do anything, but to inﬂuence public opinion in the hope that elected ofﬁcials will see this change and respond by enacting/opposing new laws or regulations to keep this constituents happy. Electioneering •interest groups get involved in elections by making contributions to candidates, endorsing candidates, funding campaign ads, or mobilizing a candidate’s or party’s supporters. 501(c)(3) organization: a tax code classiﬁcation that applies to most interest groups; this designation makes donations to the group tax deductible but limits the groups political activities. •not allowed to engage in any political activities or lobbying , although they’re always looking for loopholes around this restriction. political action committee: an interest group or a division of an interest group that can raise money to contribute to campaigns or to spend on ads in support of candidates. The amount a PAC can receive from each of its donors and the amount it can spend on federal campaigning are strictly limited. 527 organization: a tax-exempt group formed primarily to inﬂuence elections through voter mobilization efforts and issue ads that do not directly endorse or oppose a candidate. Unlike PAC, 527s are not subject to contribution limits and spending caps. •contributions to these organizations are not tax deductible, such organizations have fewer restrictions on the size of the contributions they can make and on how their money is spent. •ex: 527 organizations have no contribution or spending limits. •Although some 527 organizations run substantial national ad campaigns, the average 527 gets involved in only a few races. •2 new options for electioneering by interest groups: “Super PACs” & 501(c) (4) organizations. •electioneering is only ONE strategy available to interest groups. Cultivating Media Contacts •media coverage helps a group publicize its concerns without spending any money. •mobilizes public opinion indirectly. •media coverage provides free publicity for the groups’ policy agendas. Bypassing Government: The Initiative Process referendum: a direct vote by citizens on a policy change proposed by a legislature or another government body. Common in state & local elections, but there is no mechanism for a national- level referendum. •source of proposal. •legislature or another gov’m body proposes the question that is put to a vote. initiative: a direct vote by citizens on a policy change proposed by fellow citizens or organized groups outside government. Getting a question on the ballot typically requires collecting a set number of signatures from registered voters in support of the proposal. There is no mechanism for a national-level initiative. •allows citizens to put questions on the ballot, typically after gathering signatures of registered voters on a petition. •can occur only in states & municipalities that have the appropriate procedures in place; there is no mechanism for a nationwide vote on an interest group’s proposal. •initiative champion state - California. •principal concern - favors well funded groups that can advertise heavily in support of their proposals and can mobilize their supporters to vote on election day. •even groups with substantial resources are unable to reform policy through this process. Choosing Strategies •depend on resources and partly what approach the group believes will be most effective in promoting particular issue. How Much Power Do Interest Groups Have? •enormous inﬂuence over the actions of unelected bureaucrats. 4 facts of Interest Group Inﬂuence 1) interest groups lobby their friends in gov’m rather than their enemies & usually moderate their demands in the face of resistance. •ex: NRA leadership would probably favor a new federal law that mad it legal to carry a concealed handgun, however their is no sign that the Congress would enact this proposal, for it has been several times but never brought up for debate or vote. Thus, the NRA’s decision to forgo lobbying for a federal concealed carry law shows the limits of the organization’s power. 2) Complaints of the power of interest groups come from the losing side in the political process. •ex: Alliance for Retired Americans and it’s claims about the Medicare Prescription Drug Beneﬁt. The Alliance lobbied against the Medicare legislation just as the drug companies lobbied for it. However, the alliance was on the losing side, and many of the provisons the group favored were not enacted, making it more prone to complain about the inﬂuence of “special interests.” 3) Many interest groups claim responsibility for policies and election outcomes regardless of whether their lobbying made the difference. •ex: former senator, Kay Hagan, was defeated in her 2014 reelection bid. Many interest groups funded ads criticizing Hagan or contributed to her opponents campaign. The ads may have help defeat Hagan, but she was also hurt by having a well-funded & experienced opponent Thom Tillis. Yet, the leaders of the interest groups have a considerable incentive to make strong claims about their group’s inﬂuence and impact, helping them attract members and keep their jobs. However, they really don’t make much direct impact on policy. 4) arguments about the impact of interest groups on election outcomes •ex: Although Hagan was the target of attack ads funded by interest groups, Hagan also received support from interest groups in the form of campaign contributions and independent ads. Thus, it makes no sense to attribute Hagan’s defeat to actions taken by one set of groups without asking why similar efforts on Hagan’s behalf had no effect. You cannot conclude that interest groups are all-powerful without explaining why Hagan’s supporters were unable to save her a seat. Concluding Message: rather than explaining why groups are so powerful, we should instead focus on identifying the conditions that lead to interest group inﬂuence, and the conditions that mitigate against such inﬂuence. What Determines When Interest Groups Succeed? 2 factors that determine success in lobbying efforts 1) salience: how many americans care about what a group is trying to do? 2) conﬂict: to what extent do other groups or the public oppose policy change? Salience: the level of familiarity with an interest group’s goals among the general population. •attracts little public attention. •many policies that are the focus of lobbying efforts are not at all salient. •ex: National Turkey Federation - association of turkey farmers & processors. •2002, the federation persuaded federal bureaucrats to change federally funded school lunch program regulations in a way that increased the allowable amount of turkey in various entrees. •attracted no publicity. •when few people no or care about a policy change, interest groups are able to dominate the policy-making process. Conﬂict •lobbing - 2 conﬂicts. 1) disagreements b/w interest groups: some prefer spending more on a given program, some less. 2) differences between what a speciﬁc interest group wants and the preferences of the general public. Conclusion •interest groups are more likely to get what they when their demands require little public attention and no opposition from other groups. Practice Quiz 1) In contrast to political parties, interest groups ________. answer: indirectly. 2) Why is the number of lobbyists increasing? answer: the federal gov’m is growing in size & inﬂuence. 3) In contrast to a confederation, a centralized interest group ________. answer: deploys the group’s resources more efﬁciently. 4) The practice of moving from gov’m positions to working for interest groups is called ______. answer: the revolving door. Interest groups are organizations that seek to inﬂuence gov’m policy by helping elect candidates who support their policy goals, & by lobbying elected ofﬁcials & bureaucrats. Generally viewed with disdain. Under the theory of pluralism, interest groups are regarded as fundamental actors in American Politics. 5) The logic of collective action says that when people _____ on policy priorities, and the costs are _______, cooperation is not easy. answer: agree; high. 6) Purposive beneﬁts come from ______, while solidary beneﬁts come from _______. answer: working to achieve a desired policy goal; working with like-minded people. 7) Labor unions are generally able to overcome the collective action problem through the use of _______. answer: coercion. A primary challenge in operating an interest group is getting members to coordinate with one another. Interest Groups have a number of different ways of overcoming the problem of collective action, with varying degrees of success. 8) Asking gov’m ofﬁcials to change policy in line with the group’s goal is ______. answer: direct lobbying. 9) interest groups generally ______ draft legislation; they generally ____________ provide testimony before committees. answer: do; do. 10) directly involving interest group members in lobbying is called _______. answer: grassroots lobbying. 11) For indirect lobbying to be effective, __________. answer: letters have to come from constituents. 12) Interest groups who want to maximize the amount of access they receive in return for a campaign contribution will sometimes _________. answer: wait until AFTER an election to make a donation to the winning candidate. Interest groups have two types of tactics for lobbying elected ofﬁcials. They can attempt to inﬂuence politics by taking action in Washington, or they can take action elsewhere. The decision to pursue an inside or outside strategy comes down to the interest groups resources and which strategy members think will be most effective. 13) Interest groups generally lobby ______ in government. answer: their friends. 14) Interest groups are more likely to succeed when their request has ______ salience, and when it has ______ conﬂict. answer: low; little. It is commonly argued that elected ofﬁcials are letting interest groups deﬁne their agenda. However, the evidence on interest groups does not support these claims: there is no correlation between the amount of money spent on lobbying and a group’s success, nor is there conclusive evidence that group lobbying inﬂuences policy. Groups are generally most inﬂuential when the issues attract little public attention and when an issue does not have organized opposition.
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