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 Federation 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 (war) At certain times in history (1960s Women’s movement, for example) brought strong young leaders More govt. activities= more groups interested in those activities 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 types): Those who have “Institutional Interests”: Represent organizations (GM has a DC representative) Firms can also hire a lawyer to represent them in DC 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) Business/investment 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 access 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 opposition Those who have “Membership interests”: Represent individuals The US is a nation of joiners, but only in religious and civic/political associations Greater sense of political efficacy (but not in voting?) 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 Legion Incentives, continued… Material Incentives- $ or things and services readily valued in monetary terms Discounts, low-cost insurance (Illinois Farm Bureau) 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 attention! 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 Movements 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 unionized Govt. workers are the largest increase, however Influence has decreased since 1945 Funds for interest groups Raisin’ Money How do they do it? Membership organizations struggle does not bring in enough…not really important! 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 $) Bias What is bias? Why would interest groups have an “upper class” bias? Groups are often pitted against themselves Business groups are overrepresented in DC Um, obviously we should save the pandas. Duh. We should clearly save the whales. The Activities of Interest Groups 1. Inform the public and politicians Credible info 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 strategy” 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 expensive. Golf is cool. 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 sector Called Lobbyists, business consultants, executives Private influences many become too large (promises of jobs…) Leads to investigations by the Ethics Committees In: as a member of the cabinet or bureaucracy, or a congressmen! Out: hired by a lobbying firm, a private company, etc. 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 hitters) Sierra Club NEA AFL-CIO (American Federation of LaborCongress of Industrial Organizations) ACLU NRA NAACP 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 staff 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 heard? 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!