The recent actions of interest groups and the effect on the legislative agenda of Congress have changed how congress is run in multiple ways. Here in America we are aware that when a special interest group uses their money to lobby for a change in policy, they have the power to block individuals from being fairly represented by not allowing them to speak and they are not governed by accountability. It is very important that our American leadership stands strong and has viable answers to ensure that, according to the Constitution, the government is working “for the people” as it should be (American progress.org, Sept. 27, 2017).
Lobbyists have spent more than $6 billion of their resources in 2015 and 16, which is almost equal to how much was spent for federal campaigning in that time frame (American progress.org). When we look at how much Congress spends on their professional staff, it is considerably less than that $6 billion and it should be noted that there are only 20 certified lobbyists included for every member of Congress. Now, this doesn’t include all the non-certified lobbyists or “shadow” lobbyists that have walked right in because of easy registration requirements and the lack of enforcement of rules (American progress, 2017). 22 these facts, the members of Congress are compromised during their campaign because they have accepted donations from these lobbyists and quite often, lobbyists become members of their staff and promote their interests throughout the campaign. This is due to the fact that many lobbyists are retired lawmakers that work for the special interest groups and inundate themselves back into the system (American progress). Finally, the overspending we see in the campaigning process is directly undermining the Constitution and our democratic process (A. P., 2017). We can see that the special interest groups are placing themselves in a position where they can affect congressional decision-making and block legislation that they oppose while attacking the wallets of their wealthy corporate clients (A.P., 2017).
According to US history.com, we have seen three major interest groups that have significantly changed the face of American politics. These three groups include; animal-rights, environmental interests and public interest groups (2018). We see many other types of interest groups that crop up from the myriad of groups that feel they are not paid enough for their services, these include; the American Bar Association, medical Association and the Federation for teachers (part of the national education Association). As a whole, mainly business and trade corporations create interest groups in order to gain more wealth and power or resources. An example of some of these would be the oil and tobacco industries specifically because they are seen quite often on the steps of the Capitol (2018). These interest groups tried to convince policymakers to go along with their agenda by persuasive actions and measures. These measures include; talking to the media or the press, having direct contact with government officials and lobbying (US history).
When there is a hearing held in Congress, we see these lobbyists there pushing their agenda and campaigning for government officials to make a change. A recent example of this is when Congress was playing with the idea of trying to make private clubs same-sex organizations. One of these “private clubs” was the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, who wanted their organizations to be same-sex. As we know, now girls and boys can join either organization because of the work of these lobbyists and special interest groups. Many times these special interest groups accuse their influence through being politically involved in active in the campaign process in order to see favor-ability for their position. They also will attempt to elect candidates who are not opposed to their position and are able to defeat their opponents. There is what we call political action committees that are the front runners for the special interest groups and help to protect their mission (US history).
There has been a surge in the numbers for political action committees or PAC. This trend started in the early 1970’s during the campaign finance reform laws passing. There is such a thing is campaign donations that are written to the PAC’s, which then will funnel that money directly over to contributions for the campaign of the individual that they selected as a candidate. This has significantly changed the face of the election and campaign process. It is believed that much of the money comes from corporations and businesses in order to influence how American government is run (US history). The general public is allowed to create a public interest group in order to connect themselves to the government and be a persuasive factor during the decision-making process for policy and laws. It is things like this that make American democracy better and upholds the constitutional laws by connecting the people directly to the government and its processes (2018).
On the other side of the issue, there are those who would like to reduce the power of special interest groups over policymaker’s decisions. There is the suggestion that we being on fund raising for all lobbyists and only allow them to contribute a certain amount per candidate per election. This would help there direct relationship with the campaign process and great that connection for buying “favorable interest” (American process.org). Another suggestion is to ban members of congress from allowing special interest groups to contribute to them during their committees. The United States house of ethics would have to implement new legislation along with the US Senate, so that they can identify who the individual contributors are and to stop funding from wealthy special interest groups on behalf of the American people (American progress). There should be a push for public servants to focus more on the public and not on the special interest groups because of funding. Lawmakers would be the end from accepting a lobbying position for one to five years or possibly permanently. This would stop some of the special interests lobbying that occurs within Congress. Finally, implementing effective policy to fight the corrupting influence of special interest lobbyists depends on an accurate and effective system of lobbyist’s registration according to American progress.org (2017). This would stop one person from enticing another to lobby on their behalf or to stop an individual from continuing to lobby more than once in a two-year period. If this was to have been, the public would better understand where the money is being spent and who is trying to influence the government, making representatives more accountable (American progress, 2017).
In article 3 of the Constitution states that “the judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time ordain and establish” (US courts.gov). I take this to mean that in order to protect the Constitution, we need to control the special interest groups and stop them from influencing policymakers through monetary means. It should not be a point of interest for those who are in Congress to make money, it is their job to protect the interests of the people in the public at large. I believe that the special interest groups should have a voice, however, I do not believe that they should be allowed to persuade members of Congress by giving them donations towards their campaign. Everyone has an opinion, but we need to protect the rights of everyone’s opinion and not just those who have the money to pay for it.
Maybe you could respond to this posting through these questions. Answer in summary or essay type format.
How about at the state level? What are the biggest and most powerful (two or three) interest groups in your state and what area of policy do they influence? Do you think they have too much power? Why or why not? 1/2page