Corporate and business interest groups are the most numerous and powerful of all interest groups because:
A. they are only concerned with one or two issues.
B. the government plays a key role in regulating the economy.
C. they provide more collective benefits.
D. they provide more expressive benefits.
E. all of the above
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The question regarding the influence of the corporate and business world is a little misleading, but the logical answer is "E," "all of the above." Depending upon the corporation, it may be seeking to influence government policy and/or spending practices for a single reason or for many reasons. It may have only one issue of interest in any given year about which it seeks to lobby the government, or it may have a large number of issues. It could all depend upon the corporation in question. Boeing may be seeking government subsidies to help in funding the development of a new commercial airliner that it needs to compete in international markets with its main European rival, Airbus. That's one issue, but one big issue. Another major company may be seeking a change in the federal tax structure to make it more competitive in the international marketplace, or it may be seeking a whole panoply of changes to government practices in addition to lobbying for "earmarks" for its specific products (in other words, the company might lobby Congress and the White House for money in the federal budget to be targeted directly to it, as in requiring a federal agency to purchase this company's products whether the agency in question needs these products or not).
Obviously, corporations seek to influence the federal government because of the latter's role in the economy. The United States' is not a laissez-faire economy, in which free enterprise functions entirely separate from the institutions of government. On the contrary, the federal government, whether it is the constitutional authority of Congress to regulate commerce and to impose taxes, or the Federal Reserve's role in monitoring and adjusting interest rates to spur or slow economic growth, plays an enormously large role in the American economy.
"Collective benefits" are another subject that requires frequent interaction between private industry and the government. Pension plans, health benefits, and other forms of collective benefits for employees are all regulated to one degree or another by the federal government. Especially with passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), the role of the government in the provision of health care has grown considerably. Pension plans may be subject to regulatory schemes designed to minimize risk to employee and retiree contributions, and so on.
With respect to so-called "expressive benefits," the interactions between large corporations and the government are similarly ongoing and often intimate. The federal government regularly, and always contentiously, seeks to negotiate trade agreements with other countries. These agreements invariably have strong advocates and opponents each of whom will either benefit mightily or be harmed by the provisions of the treaty should it be successfully negotiated and ratified by the Senate. Corporations will always work with organized labor to advance their interests when it comes to such agreements. Laborers who believe the treaty will result in more exports, and, hence, more jobs, will lobby the government as much as the corporate officials will lobby the government. Conversely, businesses that believe they will be hurt by increased international competition will similarly muster their work forces in an effort at derailing negotiations on a treaty or at preventing ratification of a completed agreement. These types of scenarios will often pit very powerful constituencies against each other.
Corporate lobbying is a huge industry, but it is not necessarily the most effective. The tobacco industry is strong, but regularly loses out on taxation issues, with the government regularly raising sales taxes on cigarettes. The coal industry has historically been very powerful, but an incumbent president intent on killing that industry because of concerns about climate change can seriously weaken if not eliminate that industry. Large defense contractors may be successful in assembling a corporate lobbying effort involving primary and secondary vendors to win a large weapons contract, but those efforts could flounder in tight budgetary times.
In conclusion, corporate lobbying is extensive because the United States is a free-market economy in which private enterprise is the dominant economic force. The government, however, as state, is very influential, so the tug-of-war between the two will continue.
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