Interest Groups

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					Are groups of persons or businesses who have a
 common goal of making the political system
 change public policy. The change in policy is
 aimed at helping the members of the group.
A.    NRA – National Rifle Association
B.    AARP – American Association of Retired
C.    Any combination of manufacturers
     1. The American Home Builders Association
     2. The American Automobiles Manufacturers
     3. Groups of professionals – teacher, lawyers, doctors,
      a.   Teachers – National Education Association
      b.   Lawyers – American Bar Association
      c.   Doctors – American Medical Association
Interest groups (special interests groups often
  have names which are designed to disguise
  the purpose of the group. E.g.. Citizens for
  Legal Reform – a group of manufacturers
  trying to limit damage suits.
A.   Interrelationships of interest groups and
B.   Who are separate from, and independent of
     any government control,
C.   Who operate from outside the system,
D.   Through access points of the system to
     affect public policy.
A.   The main concern is whether interest groups
     are putting their interest over that of the
B.   All interest groups claim speak for the
     benefit of the entire country while just
     speaking for themselves.
C.   Is the power of the individual vote being
     manipulated by the power of special
A.   The Court upheld F.E.C.A. but declared
     unconstitutional on grounds of free speech
     that section which limited spending on
     behalf of a candidate.
B.   Money not given to a candidate but spent
     independently for advertising f0r a
     candidate. This money cannot be limited
     because it would restrict free speech
1973 – there were no PACs
1974 – 74 PACs
1980 – 954 PACs
1982 – 3500 PACs
1988 – 4000 PACs
1982:Corporations - $47 million
Trade association - $43 million
Labor - $37 million
Ideological - $64 million
1978: $54 million in PAC contributions to House and
  Senate candidates
1986 - $132 million
A. PAC monies are concentrated on incumbents
B. Candidates claim this special interest money
   should be done away with – obviously they
   don’t want to because we still have it.
C. The only way to rid Congress of PAC money is
   to public finance Congressional elections and
   limit spending just as for Presidential elections
   – Congress has killed every attempt at reform.
D. Most PAC money goes to the Heads of
E.    107th Congress-2001 – 2003
     1. The House: All committees are headed by
     2. The Senate: Committees are evenly Divided
        because of 50/50 split
F.    PACs cab work either in the open or behind
      the scenes
G.    Challengers are sometimes funded by PACs
      if the incumbent is any enemy, or the PAC
      isn’t sure who will win.
H.        Some PACs based on Interest Groups
     1.  US Chamber of Commerce – business
     2.  Savings and loans industry
     3.  US banking Industry
     4.  The Edison Institute – The electrical power industry
     5.  The Atomic Energy Industry
     6.  The Sierra Club-the environment
     7.  COPE – Labor Unions
     8.  American Federation of Teachers – educators
     9.  Ideological PACs – Moral Majority, NCPAC, GOPAC,
         Christian Coalition
     10. Public Interest Groups-Common Cause
     11. You name it, they have a PAC for it
A.    Factors
     1. Overlapping memberships
     2. Crisscrossing interests
     3. Cohesion
       a. Formal leaders
       b. Activists
       c. Free Riders – members in name only
     4. Money
     5. Issues – mass member single issue groups
        (AARP, NRA)
A.    Lobbying
B.    Persuasion – propaganda
C.    Litigation – amicus curiae briefs – the friend of
      the court brief
D.    RULE MAKING – attempting to sway the
      regulations that regulatory agencies make and
     1. Canvasing
     2. Telephones
     3. Fundraising
A.    Pluralists system could violate
     1. Interest groups could be more important than a
        majority of individual voters
     2. The poor don’t generally belong to interest
        groups and don’t have money to influence policy
        makers – they are represented by groups who
        have the poor’s interests as their goal (the
        Children’s Defense Fund)
B.    Reform?
     1. Public financing of Congressional elections
     2. Ending soft money contributions
     3. Further limitations on contributions
     4. Subsidizing political advertising (the reason
        modern campaigns are so expensive)