The Interest Group Connection: Electioneering, Lobbying, and Policymaking in Washington

By Paul S. Herrnson; Ronald G. Shaiko et al. | Go to book overview

Conclusion

It is natural for Americans to be apprehensive about interest groups. Certainly, our Founding Fathers were. They fretted about the mischiefs of faction and designed a political system that, they hoped, would make it difficult for factions to prevail. During the 1960s, there was some evidence to suggest that special interest groups dominated decision making within administrative agencies, especially regulatory agencies. During the 1970s, as public interest group participation mushroomed, it appeared that interest groups were busting out all over, resulting in more balanced interest representation but also in potential threats to reasoned decision making. During the 1980s, reasoned decision making became institutionalized, possibly at the expense of interest representation. Where does this leave us today? And where are we heading?

One possibility is that interest groups have declined in importance. That, at any rate, is the perception of federal civil servants, whose judgment deserves serious consideration. The root cause of that perception would seem to be that their contacts with interest groups are less extensive than they used to be. If legislation restricting lobbying by nonprofit organizations is passed, such contacts could diminish even further. There is, however, another possibility that needs to be further investigated, and that is that interest groups are as influential as ever but that they are increasingly acting through surrogates. When a congressional subcommittee chairperson extracts concessions from a federal agency, is he or she pursuing a personal agenda or an interest group agenda? When a federal court overturns an administrative agency decision, can that edict be traced to the ingenuity or perseverance of a particular interest group? When the Office of Management and Budget jawbones with an agency over a proposed rule, does that reflect technical objections to cost-benefit calculations or the reservations of an unnamed interest group? To understand interest groups better, we need to recognize that they often act in tandem with political institutions in an effort to influence other political institutions, such as the federal bureaucracy. If our research focus shifts in that direction, we may be better able to understand the complex relationship between administrative agencies and interest groups acting in concert with legislators, judges, and political executives.


Note
1.
Tax-reform legislation enacted in 1986 reduced the deductibility of business lunches from 100 percent to 80 percent of expenses. Legislation enacted in 1993 further reduced that deductibility to 50 percent of expenses.

-223-

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The Interest Group Connection: Electioneering, Lobbying, and Policymaking in Washington
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Preface vii
  • Comments on the Electoral Connection 80
  • Part III the Congressional Connection 87
  • 6 the Dynamics of Lobbying the Hill 89
  • 7 Grassroots Organizations and Equilibrium Cycles in Group Mobilization and Access 100
  • 10 Interest Groups and the Congressional Budget Process: Lobbying in the Era of Deficit Politics 154
  • Acknowledgments 173
  • Notes 173
  • 11 Tobacco Industry Pacs and the Nation's Health: A Second Opinion 174
  • Comments on the Congressional Connection 196
  • Part IV the Executive Connection 203
  • 12 Lobbying the President and the Bureaucracy 205
  • Notes 213
  • Notes 223
  • 14 Lobbying for the President: Influencing Congress from the White House 224
  • Notes 238
  • Notes 256
  • Comments on the Executive Connection 258
  • Part V the Judicial Connection 265
  • Acknowledgments 287
  • Notes 287
  • 17 Please God, Save This Honorable Court: the Emergence of the Conservative Religious Bar 289
  • Acknowledgment 300
  • Notes 300
  • Notes 302
  • Notes 316
  • Comments on the Judicial Connection 318
  • Part VI Conclusion 325
  • 19 Interest Groups at the Dawn of a New Millennium 327
  • References 337
  • Index 361
  • About the Contributors 374
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