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Chapter 11: Interest Groups

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1 Chapter 11: Interest Groups
AP United States Government and Politics

2 Proliferation of Interest Groups
Many kinds of cleavage in the country Constitution makes for many access points Public laws favor the non-profit sector Section 501(c)(3) organizations Section 501(c)(4) organizations Political parties are weak

3 Birth of Interest Groups
Periods of rapid growth Since 1960, 70 percent have established an office in Washington D.C. 1770s, independence groups 1830s and 1840s, religious, antislavery groups 1860s, craft unions 1880s and 1890s, business associations 1900s and 1910, most major lobbies of today

4 Factors Explaining Rise of Interest Groups
Broad economic developments create new interests Farmers produce cash crops Mass production of industries Government policy itself Created veterans’ groups -- wars Encouraged formation of Farm Bureau Launched Chamber of Commerce Favored growth of unions

5 Factors Explaining Rise of Interest Groups
Emergence of strong leaders, usually at certain times Expanding role of government


7 Kinds of Organizations
Interest group: any organization that seeks to influence public policy Institutional Interests: individuals or organizations representing other organizations Types Businesses: example, General Motors Trade or governmental associations Concerns -- bread-and-butter issues concern to their clients Clearly defined, with homogeneous groups Diffuse, with diversified groups Other interests -- governments, foundations, universities

8 Kinds of Organizations
Membership Interests Americans join some groups more frequently than people in other nations Social, business, etc., same rate as elsewhere Unions, less likely to join Religious or civic groups, more likely to join Greater sense of efficacy and duty explains the tendency to join civic groups More sympathizers do not join because: Individuals not that significant Benefits flow to nonmembers too

9 Kinds of Organizations
Incentives to join Solidary incentives -- pleasure, companionship (League of Women Voters, AARP, NAACP, Rotary) Material incentives -- money, things, services (farm organizations, retired persons, etc) Purpose of the organization itself -- public-interest organizations Ideological interest groups’ appeal is controversial principles Engage in research and bring lawsuits Public-interest lobby

10 Kinds of Organizations
Influence of the staff Many issues affect different members differently Issues may be irrelevant to those joining for solidary or material benefits Group efforts may reflect opinion of staff more than general membership

11 Interest Groups and Social Movements
Social movement is a widely shared demand for change Environmental movement Feminist movement: three kinds Solidary -- LWV and others (widest support) Purposive -- NOW, NARAL (strong position on divisive issues) Caucus -- WEAL (material benefits)

12 Interest Groups and Social Movements
Union movement Major movement occurred in the 1930s Peak around 1945 Steady decline since, today about 10 percent of all workers Explanations for the decline Shift from industrial production to service delivery Decline in popular approval of unions Growth of unions composed of government workers

13 Funds for Interest Groups
Foundation grants Expansion and cutbacks in federal grants affect interest groups Support for projects undertaken Large not-for-profits benefit when grants are awarded for services they provide Efforts by Reagan and Bush to cut back and increase funds Business and federal contracts

14 Funds for Interest Groups
Direct mail Unique to modern interest groups through use of computers Common Cause a classic example Techniques Teaser Emotional arousal Celebrity endorsement Personalization of letter

15 Problem of Bias Reasons for belief in upper-class bias
More affluent more likely to join Business or professional groups more numerous Why these facts do not decide the issue Describe inputs but not outputs Business groups often divide among themselves Important to ask what the bias is Many conflicts are within upper middle class Resource differentials are clues, not conclusions


17 Activities of Interest Groups Information
Single most important tactic Nonpolitical sources insufficient Provide detailed, current information Most effective on narrow, technical issues Officials also need political cues --> ratings systems Dissemination of information and cues via fax

18 Activities of Interest Groups Public Support: Rise of New Politics
Outsider strategy replacing insider strategy New strategy leaders to controversy that politicians dislike Key targets: the undecided Some groups attack their likely allies to embarrass them Legislators sometimes buck public opinion, unless issue important Some groups try for grassroots support Saccharin issue “Dirty Dozen” environmental polluters Few large, well-funded all-powerful interests (NRA)

19 Activities of Interest Groups Money and PACs
Money is the least effective way to influence politicians Campaign finance reform law of 1973 had two effects Restricted amount interest groups can give to candidates Made it legal for corporations and unions to create PACs Rapid growth in PACs has not led to vote buying More money is available on all sides Members of Congress take money but still decide how to vote

20 Activities of Interest Groups Money and PACs
Almost any organization can create a PAC More than half of the PACs are sponsored by corporations Recent increase in ideological PACs; one-third liberal, two- thirds conservative Ideological PACs raise more but spend less because of the cost of raising money In 2000 unions and business organizations gave most

21 Activities of Interest Groups Money and PACs
Incumbents get most PAC money Business PACs split money between Democrats and Republicans Democrats get most PAC money PAC contributions small No evidence PAC money influences votes in Congress Most members vote their ideology When issue is if little concern to voters, slight correlation but may be misleading PAC money may influence in other ways, such as access PAC money most likely to influence on client politics

22 Activities of Interest Groups The Revolving Door
Individuals leave important jobs in the federal government and go into lucrative positions in private industry Some become lobbyists and there are concerns Improper influence Promise of positions upon leaving government Some prominent examples, especially in the procurement process

23 Activities of Interest Groups Trouble
Disruption always part of American politics Used by groups of varying ideologies Better accepted since 1960s History of proper persons using disruption: suffrage, civil rights, antiwar movements Officials dread no-win situation


25 Regulating Interest Groups
Protection by First Amendment 1946 law accomplished little in requiring registration

26 Regulating Interest Groups
1995 lobby act enacted by Congress Broadens definition of a lobbyist Lobbyists must report twice annually The names of clients Their income and expenditures The issues on which they worked Exempts grassroots organizations No enforcement organization created

27 Regulating Interest Groups
2007 reforms by Democrats Gifts from registered lobbyists or firms that employ them Reimbursement for travel costs from registered lobbyists or firms that employ them Reimbursements for travel for trips organized or requested by registered lobbyists or firms that employ them Impact of reforms? Rules will probably be enforced “strictly speaking” Exceptions, loopholes and need for clarification Still room for evasion and abuse Significant restraints prior to 1995 still in effect Tax code: threat of losing exempt status Campaign finance laws

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