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Interest groups


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  • 1. Interest Groups
    …with apologies to President Obama
  • 2. What Are Interest Groups?
    Interest Groups
    Organizations outside the government that attempt to influence the government’s behavior, decision-making, and allocation of resources
  • 3. Alexis de Tocqueville
    “The liberty of association has become a necessary guarantee against the tyranny of the majority…I am therefore led to conclude that the right of association is almost as inalienable as the right of personal liberty”
  • 4. Association
    Individuals can create groups in order to seek a common goal
  • 5. Seeking a Public Good
    What is the collective action obstacle?
    How can we overcome it?
  • 6. Benefits of Interest Groups
    Help address the Free-rider problem:
    “public goods can be enjoyed by everyone, including people who do not pay their fair share of the cost of providing those goods”
    Provide selective benefits, organize efforts, give “do-getters” an outlet
  • 7. Theodore Lowi
    Interest groups relieve government
    Write legislation, educate Congressmen, provide research, etc.
    Without interest groups, Congress could be even more stagnated
  • 8. Pluralist Perspective
    Groups are inevitable at all ranges
    Will balance each other out
  • 9. Types of Interest
    (citizen’s groups) – focus on community well-being
    Focus on benefits for a fraction of the community
    Generally economically motivated
  • 10. Some Interest Groups…
    American Medical Association (a professional association); Labor Unions
    Public Interest
    AARP, NRA, Sierra Club
    Think Tanks
    Brookings Institution
    Governmental Units
    National Governors Association
  • 11. Lobbyists
    Those paid to represent interest groups before government officials and institutions
  • 12. Political Action Committee
    Political organizations created to raise and spend money to influence electoral outcomes
  • 13. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2009)
    1st Amendment protects of free speech extends to businesses and organizations
    Congress cannot limit campaign donations
  • 14. Obama, on the decision…
    “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”
  • 15. Open Secrets
  • 16. Barack Obama
  • 17. John McCain
  • 18.
  • 19.
  • 20. Obama, on public financing (2007)
    “My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”
  • 21. Campaign spending
  • 22. If no PACs or public finance, where does the money come from?
    White House Spokesman Ben Labolt:
    Obama "didn't accept a dime from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists…He raised $750 million from nearly 4 million Americans,"
  • 23. Goldman-Sachs Donations
  • 24. University of California
    How do we feel about a university donating to a political campaign?
  • 25.
  • 26. What do lobbyists do?
    Inside v. Outside Game
    “old breed lobbying”
    Lobby Congress
    Lobby executive office
  • 27. CNN
    “In the 2008 election, three out of every four dollars contributed by Goldman Sachs went to Democrats.
    “Since the 2008 election, FEC reports indicate that Goldman Sachs has contributed generously to Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee members. The two panels are responsible for oversight of the industry.”
  • 28. Inside v. Outside
    Outside Game
    “New breed lobbying”
    Mobilize membership
    Target districts
    Shape public opinion
    Publish research results
    Get the media, blogs on board
  • 29. Instruments of Democracy?
    Representational Inequalities
    E.E. Schattschneider – upper class bias
    Resource Inequalities
    Representatives/ Senators: $170k/year
    Lobbyists previously serving: $300k +
  • 30. Do PACs influence voting?
    Mitch McConnell:
    “Prove it”
  • 31. “Revolving Door”
    Personnel “revolve” between government bureaucracy and lobby groups
  • 32. Obama Campaign
    Shut the revolving door
    Disqualify lobbyists from eligibility for political appointments
  • 33.