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Interest Groups. POLS 21: The American Political System. “Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.”  —Napoleon Bonaparte.

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Interest Groups


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    1. Interest Groups POLS 21: The American Political System “Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.”  —Napoleon Bonaparte

    2. MASON CITY, December 26, 2007 — Invoking the words of both John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., U.S. Sen. Barack Obama pledged today to stand up for the ordinary citizen to fight special interests and Washington kingmakers. PRESS RELEASE, February 19, 2008 — Hillary’s Agenda to Fight Special Interests and Restore Fairness to Our Economy JOHNMCCAIN.COM — Americans have lost trust that their government and its elected officials will serve the Nation's interest and not their own. Special interests have too much influence in Washington. Americans want a courageous leader who will stand up to the trial lawyers and labor bosses and other special interests, govern by principle rather than political expedience, keep their promises, and solve problems instead of leaving them for our children. Restoring Americans' confidence in their government is what's at stake in this election.

    3. The “L” Word http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-march-4-2004/the--l--word

    4. Special interests vs. The public interest

    5. Americans of all ages, all stations of life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations. They are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand other types—religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute… at the head of any new undertaking, where in France you would find the government or in England some territorial magnate, in the United States you are sure to find an association. —-Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

    6. Frequency of Political Activities

    7. Membership in Interest Groups

    8. Overcoming the Collective Action Problem • Material incentives • Solidary incentives • Purposive incentives

    9. What Interest Groups Do Lobbying Direct and/or indirect contact with public officials with the goal of influencing the formation or implementation of public policy. Grassroots Mobilization Includes the use of direct mail campaigns, letter drives, and consumer boycotts. Litigation 72% of Washington-based interest groups use litigation as a lobbying tool. Some cases are sponsored by an interest group, in other cases groups file amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs. Election Activities PACs, the fundraising arm of interest groups, contribute money to political campaigns. Organized groups also endorse candidates and rate candidates' legislative records.

    10. Debating Interest Group Strategies • Under what conditions is the probability of success for each of these strategies is greatest? Are certain issues particularly well-suited to one approach or another? • Do interest groups strategically consider which tactic to use on a given issue, or do they specialize? Toothless cave spider Bald eagle Kangaroo rat

    11. Democracy for Hire? “Take in a greater variety of parties and interests [and] you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens… [Hence the advantage] enjoyed by a large over a small republic.” — James Madison Today, we call this idea PLURALISM.

    12. Citizens United vs. FEC

    13. Citizens United Has Already Doubled The Amount Of Outside Spending In Presidential Election Years

    14. How much does it cost to run for president? $0 $74.6 million in public financing during the general election $74.6 million in public financing during the general election Total spending by all presidential candidates = $717.9 million Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/presidential/index.asp?sort=E

    15. How much does it cost to run for president? $84 million in public financing during the general election Rejected public financing Total spending by all presidential candidates = $1.759 billion Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/presidential/index.asp?sort=E

    16. How much does it cost to run for president? First incumbent president to rejected public financing Rejected public financing Total spending by all presidential candidates = ? Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/presidential/index.asp?sort=E

    17. Washington on the “customary means of winning votes” • 28 gallons of rum • 50 gallons of rum punch • 34 gallons of wine • 46 gallons of beer • 2 gallons of cider royal There were only 391 eligible voters in his district!

    18. Why do we spend so much more today? • Expansion of the electorate: • The 17th Amendment was passed in 1913. It instituted the direct popular election of U.S. Senators. • About the same time, most states turned from party nominating conventions to direct primaries. • With the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, women won the right to vote. • Increasing government involvement in the economy: • Corporate tax policy • Anti-trust law • Cost of mass media • Television markets • Internet

    19. Do we spend too much on political campaigns? • 231 million voting age citizens = $7.62 per person • 213 million voting eligible citizens = $8.67 per person • 172 million registered voters = $10.23 per person • 131 million votes cast= $13.43 per person

    20. Where does all this money come from? Answer #1: Public financing Do you want $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund? □ Yes □ No  Today, just 11% of taxpayers check off the box that allocates $3 to the federal election campaign fund—down from 28% two decades ago.

    21. Where does all this money come from? Answer #2: Private donations • Individuals • PACs

    22. Democracy for Hire? • Does money buy elections? • Does money, at least, buy influence? • Is money the equivalent of “speech”?

    23. How do we control this system? • Disclosure laws • Public financing laws • Contribution limits • Spending limits

    24. “At least we know who is being bought and sold, and at what price.”

    25. Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (2002) • “Hard money” refers to donations made directly to political candidates. These must be declared with the name of the donor, which becomes public knowledge, and are limited by legislation. • “Soft money” is money that is not made directly to a candidate's campaign, but is spent on an activity, especially issue advertising, which promotes a candidate’s positions or funds thinly veiled attacks on the opponent’s positions, that obviously benefit the candidate. Since it is not actually received or spent by the candidate’s campaign, there are no legal limits. PACs and “Super PACs” 527s

    26. Types of Advocacy Groups • Political action committees (PACs) – An organization formed for the purpose of influencing elections on a local, state or federal level. PACs may donate directly to a candidate’s campaign with limits on annual contributions to the PAC. • Super PACs – The FEC also allows for 527 Independent Expenditure PACs (or “Super PACs”). These are groups who make no contributions directly to the campaigns of any candidates, but instead make “independent expenditures” of their money to support their causes. They may engage in unlimited political spending as long as they do not coordinate directly with candidates or political parties. Also unlike traditional PACs, they can raise funds from corporations, unions and other groups, and from individuals, without legal limits. Donors must be disclosed.

    27. Contribution Limits, 2011-2012 Federal law forces candidates to raise small amounts of money from many different contributors. While still difficult, the internet can make this possible (e.g., Howard Dean, Barack Obama).

    28. 501(c)(4) Civic leagues and other corporations that operate exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees with net earnings devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes. These organizations may lobby for legislation, and may also participate in political campaigns and elections as long as campaigning is not the organization’s primary purpose. These organizations are NOT required to disclose their donors publicly.

    29. 2012’s Winners and Losers