The "Invisible Government" and Conservative Tax Lobbying 1935-1936

By Kornhauser, Marjorie E. | Law and Contemporary Problems, Spring 2018 | Go to article overview

The "Invisible Government" and Conservative Tax Lobbying 1935-1936


Kornhauser, Marjorie E., Law and Contemporary Problems


"[M]ost legislation is fathered not by parties but by minority groups, and these groups maintain their pressure without ceasing." (1)

I

INTRODUCTION: LOBBYING AND TAXATION IN AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

Tax-collecting and lobbying may not be the oldest professions in the world, but both surely are strong competitors for next oldest. This universality--in both time and geography--attests to the essential roles taxation and lobbying play in all types of societies. Taxation's ubiquity occurs because, in the long run, it provides governments the surest stream of necessary revenues. Lobbying's universality derives from the human desire to obtain benefits from those in a position to bestow such favors. When the benefit directly affects a person's wallet--as taxation surely does--the incentive to lobby is immense.

In the United States, tax lobbying is nearly irresistible because both taxation and lobbying hold special places in American democracy and the American psyche. Anti-tax sentiment has deep-seated historic and mythic ties to American conceptions of democracy, liberty and patriotism. (2) The link began with cries of "No Taxation without Representation" at the nation's birth and remains strong today. Further strengthening the anti-tax and patriotism bond is the belief that taxes destroy federalism. Lowering taxes, in this view, starves the twin-headed beast of centralization and bureaucracy and prevents the federal government from stepping into unconstitutional state functions. Another link is a common belief that low taxation spurs that most American of traits and goals--individual enterprise and economic growth.

Lobbying, like taxation, has an American twist. Commentators as far back as Tocqueville have noted that Americans, more than other nationalities, organize politically because they hope to convince the people of their own views and then govern in "their name." (3) There are numerous ways to influence legislation: legal or illegal; open or hidden; direct--appeals to legislators--or indirect--through shaping public opinion. No matter its form, organized special interest activity--the nub of lobbying--is still at "the heart of what is most distinctive about democracy in America." (4)

Lobbying is so fundamental to American democracy that the First Amendment enshrines its core components--the ability to speak one's mind and associate with other similarly inclined individuals. In theory, interest group lobbying promotes the healthy marketplace of ideas necessary to a functioning democracy. For example, lobbying--at least theoretically--not only improves legislation by raising issues from various perspectives, but also ensures that everyone has the opportunity to be heard.

Lobbying, however, can also undermine democracy. Lobbyists can distort the legislative process by exerting undue influence. One of the most pernicious aspects of lobbying is that often neither legislators nor the public know they are being lobbied. They are unaware that they are presented with biased information or misinformation, under the guise of objective fact, or subtly guided by skillfully persuasive materials and speakers. Americans have long tried to limit this dangerous downside of lobbying through a variety of mechanisms such as restricting financial contributions to political action groups and regulating lobbyists. Congress has evidenced its ongoing concern in numerous investigations of lobbying and through repeated legislative attempts to regulate lobbyists and restrict political financial contributions. (5)

Taxation provides fertile ground for lobbying. Tocqueville confirmed this when he used the contentious tariffs in the 1830s as an example of his belief that "the liberty of association for political purposes is unbounded" in this country. (6) Earlier, in Federalist Paper No. 10 James Madison commented that "there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice [than in taxation]. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The "Invisible Government" and Conservative Tax Lobbying 1935-1936
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.