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C HAPTER 11 I NTEREST G ROUPS Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
C HAPTER 11: L EARNING O BJECTIVES Appreciate the function of interest groups as a mechanism by which groups of people attempt to influence government to advance shared goals Assess both the benefits and criticisms of the interest group system in the United States Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
C HAPTER 11: L EARNING O BJECTIVES Define pluralism as the theory that public policy is largely the product of a variety of different interest groups competing with one another to promote laws that benefit members of their respective groups Compare the role of interest groups to that of political parties Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
C HAPTER 11: L EARNING O BJECTIVES Understand the reasons for the growth of interest groups in the United States during the twentieth century Evaluate the critical role interest groups play in influencing policy making through structures such as iron triangles and issue networks Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
C HAPTER 11: L EARNING O BJECTIVES Assess solidary benefits as one of the reasons people join interest groups Explain the “free rider” problem that many interest groups face Assess the factors that contribute to each interest group’s level of influence on policy Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
C HAPTER 11: L EARNING O BJECTIVES Distinguish between economic interest groups and noneconomic interest groups according to their primary purpose and cite examples of each type of group Identify the activities interest groups engage in to achieve their goals and influence public policy Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
L OBBYING S CANDALS WITH A R ING OF F AMILIARITY : N OW & T HEN Lobbying legislators may be a time- honored practice, however, Legislative favors in return for financial interests can quickly cross the line and betray the public trust A group’s original cause may be noble, but corruption can destroy public faith Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
ABBE LOWELL/AP PHOTO Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
N OW … N ATIVE A MERICAN T RIBES AND J ACK A BRAMOFF The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allowed tribe-run casinos on reservations In the 1990s, tribal leaders hired lobbyist Jack Abramoff Initially, Abramoff was very successful in protecting tribal interests in Congress, however… Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
N OW … N ATIVE A MERICAN T RIBES AND J ACK A BRAMOFF Abramoff was accused of bribing U.S. Congressmen with gifts and donations Also defrauded the tribes: overbilled them and orchestrated lobbying activities against his own clients Pleaded guilty to numerous charges and named the Congressmen who had benefited from his “generosity” Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
BRADY-HANDY PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PRINTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISION Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
T HEN … T HE U NION P ACIFIC R AILROAD After the Civil War, railroads were the dominant interest in Washington, D.C. Oakes Ames, an influential House member, obtained Union Pacific construction contracts for his family firm A front company, Crédit Mobilier, funneled money back to the railroads through their own construction contracts Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
T HEN … T HE U NION P ACIFIC R AILROAD Ames allowed members of Congress to purchase railroad shares at face rather than market value In return, they ignored illegal transactions The railroad went bankrupt in the 1870s and Ames was censured But many politicians escaped merely with “the embarrassment of public exposure” Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
N OW & T HEN … No one questions the importance of the railways during the post–Civil War period, and Native Americans, downtrodden for so long, gaining economic prominence in the 1990s, was welcomed by many Unfortunately, aggressive lobbying on behalf of these two groups went too far Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
P LURALISM AND THE I NTEREST G ROUP S YSTEM What Is an Interest Group? Aka - “pressure group” or “organized interest” Organization of people with shared goals that tries to influence public policy through a variety of activities Allows them to protect or advance their interests Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
P LURALISM AND THE I NTEREST G ROUP S YSTEM Pluralism: theory that public policy largely results from interest groups competing with one another to promote laws that benefit their members Majoritarianism: theory that public policy is a product of what majorities of citizens prefer Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
A MERICAN G OVERNMENT … I N P OPULAR P ERSPECTIVE In the Words of French Political Philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville After touring the U.S., de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America (1835): Observed that U.S. “associations” are a “necessary guarantee against the tyranny of the majority” Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
T HE P ROS AND C ONS OF I NTEREST G ROUPS The Pros: Provide all groups with an opportunity to win support for their ideas and positions Joining groups and working for the interests of the group is a natural inclination of citizens and should be encouraged Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
T HE P ROS AND C ONS OF I NTEREST G ROUPS Association is implicitly protected by the First Amendment which affords individuals the right “…peaceably to assemble…” The system is fair in that it gives all groups an equitable opportunity to compete Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
T HE P ROS AND C ONS OF I NTEREST G ROUPS The Cons: Unfair because groups supported by the wealthy have far greater resources to promote their interests Promotes advancement of interests that don’t always strive for the common good, i.e., large, profit-conscious corporations Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
T HE P ROS AND C ONS OF I NTEREST G ROUPS Too many groups slow policy making to a state of gridlock Interest group leaders are not elected, thus interest group dominance of the system is an affront to democracy Groups concentrate benefits for the few while distributing costs to the many Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
I NTEREST G ROUPS VERSUS P OLITICAL P ARTIES Parties and interest groups differ in two important ways: 1. Most interest groups don’t run candidates for office 2. Groups tend to focus narrowly on special issues or sets of issues while the major parties are more generalist Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
Women and children in 1890 labor at a food processing plant. TIME LIFE PICTURES/GETTY IMAGES Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
I NTEREST G ROUPS AND S OCIAL M OVEMENTS Many movements have been propelled by interest group activities Political Example: women’s suffrage Economic Example: labor and consumer rights Social Example: the civil rights movements Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
T HE G ROWTH OF I NTEREST G ROUPS As the number of government programs and agencies has expanded Opportunities for influence via interest group activities have expanded as well 1960–2000: the number of groups increased 400% (5,843 to 23,298) Lobbying spending increased from $1.43 billion (1998) to $3.47 billion (2009) Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
A MERICAN G OVERNMENT … I N P OPULAR P ERSPECTIVE AARP: The Behemoth of Interest Group Politics One of the largest, most popular groups in America (over 40 million members) 2009: spent $30 million in lobbying Its size and activities have invited criticisms and led to some controversies Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN/GETTY IMAGES Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
IRON TRIANGLES, ISSUE NETWORKS, AND THE INFLUENCE OF GROUPS 1. Congressional committees and subcommittees over a specific policy area + 2. Executive agencies administrating policies in this area + 3. Interest groups seeking to influence the policy area = iron triangles Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
IRON TRIANGLES, ISSUE NETWORKS, AND THE INFLUENCE OF GROUPS They may not always agree but they seek to promote favorable policies Depend on one another for support and influence Together, they dominate public policy development Example: U.S. defense policies Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
IRON TRIANGLES, ISSUE NETWORKS, AND THE INFLUENCE OF GROUPS Issue networks: broader set of actors who have a vested interest in an area of public policy, and Try to collectively influence their policy area, i.e., Congressional staff, journalists who report on the policy area, and experts Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
M EMBERSHIP IN G ROUPS Many citizens, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and public entities belong to interest groups Individuals who are more likely to belong to interest groups often have higher incomes and greater resources Often are better educated and employed in professional occupations Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
M EMBERSHIP IN G ROUPS Reasons for membership: Material benefits: specific, tangible benefits Purposive benefits: rewards benefiting society more generally Solidary benefits: satisfaction from interacting with like-minded individuals for a cause Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
W HAT M AKES S OME G ROUPS M ORE P OWERFUL THAN O THERS ? 1. Size of the membership: Power in numbers, i.e., AFBF 2. Wealth of the members Increased contributions, i.e., ATLA 3. Dedication of members to the goals of the group Time, effort, and resources, i.e., NRLC Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
C HECK T HE L IST The Top Ten Most Influential Interest Groups Fortune magazine annually identifies the top ten most influential interest groups based on a survey of political players One recent top ten list consisted of the following: Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
C HECK T HE L IST 1. AARP 2. National Rifle Association (NRA) 3. National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) 4. American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 5. American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
C HECK T HE L IST 6. The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) 7. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce 8. National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) 9. The National Education Association (NEA) 10. The National Restaurant Association Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
T YPES OF I NTEREST G ROUPS Economic Groups: promote economic advantages and opportunities Business Groups: promote interests of companies and corporations Trade associations: typically focus on one particular industry Free riders: enjoy the benefits of membership without paying for the costs Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
T YPES OF I NTEREST G ROUPS Labor Unions: promote the interests of American workers Open shop: membership is optional Closed shop: mandatory membership - banned by the Taft-Hartley Act Union shop: must either join the union or pay the equivalent of union dues Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
T YPES OF I NTEREST G ROUPS Professional Associations: Lawyers and medical doctors have high- profile and powerful interest groups American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Bar Association (ABA) The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is also large and influential Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
N ONECONOMIC G ROUPS Public interest groups: Promote the broad, collective good of citizens and consumers Issue or ideological groups: Focus on specific issues and ideological perspectives Government groups: Represent the interests of governments Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
Y OUR P ERSPECTIVE... O N A MERICAN P OLITICS “Before the Lecture Begins, Students from PIRG have an announcement…” Public Interest Research Group–claims to “stand up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public” Does PIRG operate on your campus? Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
Y OUR P ERSPECTIVE... O N A MERICAN P OLITICS What other interest groups are active at your college? Have you ever been asked to get involved in PIRG or another interest group’s activities? What kinds of interest groups are you most willing to support? Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
H OW I NTEREST G ROUPS A CHIEVE T HEIR G OALS Lobbying: Provide information and expertise to public officials Attempt to convince officials to vote or act in a manner favorable to their interest Lobbying has been part of the American political system since the colonial era Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
H OW I NTEREST G ROUPS A CHIEVE T HEIR G OALS Supporting candidates and parties in election campaigns: Provide financing via PACs, volunteers, endorsements, etc… Litigation: Initiate lawsuits, request injunctions, defend members, and file legal briefs Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
H OW I NTEREST G ROUPS A CHIEVE T HEIR G OALS Persuasion campaigns Media campaigns to persuade the public to support their position on issues Sophisticated public relations operations communicate their positions Use tactics such as “targeted mass mailings” Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
N OW & THEN : M AKING THE C ONNECTION The railways and Native American tribes were interest groups that exerted a strong influence on policymaking Both were well-respected, yet when Oakes Ames and Jack Abramoff used greed as an enticement, the democratic system suffered Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
P OLITICS I NTER A CTIVE ! The Newest Way for Organized Interests to Influence Elections: 527s Politically oriented organizations with tax-exempt status and no limits on the amount of soft money they can theoretically raise and spend Develop and air “issue” advertisements 2008–spent nearly $500 million Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
P OLITICS I NTER A CTIVE ! Go to www.opensecrets.org/527s Which industries have been most active in forming these groups? What kinds of ads have they produced? Who do you think benefits more– Democrat or Republican candidates? Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
P OLITICS I NTER A CTIVE ! Do these groups legitimately contribute to the “marketplace of ideas,” or Is this an example of “free speech run amuck”? www.cengage.com/dautrich/american government/2e Find the link for details on 527s; consult the various links that relate to 527 advertisements Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
John McCain speaks at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, which endorsed him for president. SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES Copyright © 2012 Cengage Learning
CHAPTER 11 Interest Groups
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