Download Interest Groups - Mrs. Cappelletti`s AP American Government

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Interest Groups
Welcome to where K Street
meets DC
Explaining Proliferation
Interest groups are common because:
 We
have so many unique desires (Fed. #10)
 Lots of ways to gain access in our govt. (All 3
branches)-as opposed to Great Britain
 Weakness of political parties has provided
fertile ground for lobbyist groups to thrive
American Farm Bureau
National Farmers’ Union
The Grange
The Birth of Interest Groups
Grown since 1960s, has happened before
(Revolutionary period-present day)
Four factors to explain the rise:
 Broad economic developments
 Govt. policy itself helped to create interest groups
 At certain times in history (1960s Women’s
movement, for example) brought strong young
 More govt. activities= more groups interested in those
Most interest groups hire lobbyists to work for them
Interest group: An organization
of people sharing a common
Interest or goal that seeks
to influence the making of
Public policy
How are IGs similar and
different from political parties?
Use your venn diagrams to discuss
Kinds of Organizations (Two major
Those who have “Institutional Interests”:
Represent organizations (GM has a DC
 Firms can also hire a lawyer to represent them in
 Result? Lots of expensive lawyers in Washington!
 Try to influence policies affecting GM’s business
 This type also involves governments, foundations,
universities (American Council on Education)
firms=successful…but why?
Have a vested interest in LONG term governmental
choices because they impact markets and
investments/access to lots of money resources for this
Been around for a long time
These groups’ constituents contribute heavily to many
legislatures campaigns and in so doing gain greater
access to legislators
Economic lobbyists often campaign for obscure or
minute changes to tax law about which the public
knows little, and therefore frequently meet little
Those who have “Membership interests”:
 Represent
 The US is a nation of joiners, but only in
religious and civic/political associations
 Greater sense of political efficacy (but not in
 Still a puzzle however…but there are
incentives to join (let’s look at those now!)
Incentives to Join- Something of
value they cannot get without joining
 Solidary
incentives: Sense of pleasure,
status, or companionship-needs to be local
League of Women Voters, Parent Teacher
Association (PTA), NAACP, Rotary Club, American
Incentives, continued…
Material Incentives- $ or things and
services readily valued in monetary terms
 Discounts,
low-cost insurance (Illinois Farm
 Low-cost life insurance, mail-order drug
discounts, tax advice, group travel plans
(AARP members make up 45% of nation’s
pop. over 50!!)
Incentives, continued…
Purposive Incentive –A benefit that comes from serving
a cause or principle.
 Sometimes called ideological interest groups political organizations that attract members by
appealing to their political convictions or principles
 Public-Interest Lobby- A political organization
whose goals will principally benefit nonmembers
 Tend to be shaped by the mood of the times…more
successful with a “hostile” administration-get more
 Ralph Nader (see charts on pages 272 and 273 for
liberal vs. conservative public-interest law firms/think
tanks in DC)
 Interest groups with Purposive incentives tend to be
the most powerful…why?
Think Tanks (See chart page 273)
Public-Interest organizations that do
research on policy questions and
disseminate their findings in books,
articles, conferences, op-ed essays for
newspapers and testimony before
Congress. Can be liberal (Institute for
Policy Studies), conservative (Ethics and
Public Policy Center), or neutral
Staff influence?
Lobbyist groups’ staffers do not always do
what its members believe in
Interest Groups and Social
Can be liberal or conservative
 The effect of a social movement is to
increase the value some people attach to
purposive incentives
 Most passionately aroused people will be
the fewest in #, will be most extreme
Feminist Movement-3 kinds
Solidary Incentives
 Purposive Incentives
 Material Incentives
 Find
an example for each (pages 274-275)
The decline of union membership
2002, 11% of
all workers were
 Govt. workers
are the largest
increase, however
Influence has
decreased since
Funds for interest groups
Raisin’ Money
How do they do it?
Membership organizations struggle
does not bring in enough…not really
 Dues-but
Foundation grants (groups/rich fams give money
to causes they support: Ford Foundation)
 Rockefeller
Family Fund almost single-handedly
supports the Environmental Defense Fund
 Bill & Linda Gates Foundation supports many
endeavors, including childhood immunizations,
public education
Federal Grants ($ goes to projects the groups
has undertaken, often community projects)
Mail (Costs $ to bring in $)
What is bias?
 Why would interest groups have an
“upper class” bias?
 Groups are often pitted against
 Business groups are overrepresented in
Um, obviously we
should save the
pandas. Duh.
We should
save the
The Activities of
Interest Groups
1. Inform the public and politicians
 Credible
 Exaggerate but need to be legit to keep the
ear of the politician
 “client politics”: Great advantage to
suppliers of information. (ie, oil companies
provide info about oil)
 Gather data about how the public feels
about certain issues
2. Gather public support
 Lobbyists
used to use an “insider strategy”
Play golf to discuss legislation…
 Individualistic
nature of Congress and
technology has led to more of an “outsider
Use public opinion polls
 Grass roots lobbying
 People
don’t really get excited about
complex bills. Outsider strategy is hard.
 Congressmen tend to deal w/the interest
groups they agree with
I hope he stalls that
casino legislation
soon- this golfing is
3. Organize and gather money to
support their cause
 Used
to be pretty corrupt
 1973: limits $, creates PACs-have greatly
increased since!
 So many PACs there is money available
supporting every side of every issue
 Money can change hands (one PAC can
get money from one person and donate it
to another)
 Anyone
can form a PAC: rise in ideological
PACs is most noticeable
 Both parties are dependent on PAC money
 No proof this impacts how they vote
 Money does bring access
 Possibility of earmarking (also called pork
barrel spending)
4. Create their own “job bank”
the “revolving door”
 Politicians leave politics to join the private
 Called
Lobbyists, business consultants, executives
 Private
influences many become too large
(promises of jobs…)
 Leads to investigations by the Ethics
In: as a
member of
the cabinet or
or a
Out: hired
by a
firm, a
5. Stir up trouble
 Protest
marches, sit-ins, picketing, violence
 Accepted political tactic
 Politicians can’t win: Ignore it? Give in?
Encourage it?
Powerful interest groups (Big
Sierra Club
 AFL-CIO (American Federation of LaborCongress of Industrial Organizations)
Regulating Interest Groups
Protected by the First Amendment (right to access)
Groups have to register with the Senate and House
Groups must submit quarterly financial reports
Lobbyists are clearly defined (1995 law)
20% or more of their time, paid at least 5K in 6 months,
groups that spend more than $20K in 6 months on a lobbying
Law bars non-profits that lobby from getting grants
Can lose tax exempt status if you lobby too much!!
Campaign finance laws also regulate interest groups
Food for thought…
Why aren’t interest groups in the Constitution?
Do all groups have equal chances of being
Are interest groups regulated well enough?
Do interest groups have too much influence?
Interest groups are
going to happen. That
is why I always look
angry in photographs.
Stupid factions. (See
Federalist 10). I just
have some fears…lay
off the minority
factions, and don’t
control certain regions
of the US!