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The Business & Trade Associations: America’s Most Influential Interest Group Sector in the Health care Reform Debate

By Jessica Fugate

From the Author: This paper is a culmination of research conducted over the course of the fall 2009 semester for PSC 245: Interest Group Politics. Throughout the semester we discussed the origin of the interest group and their effect on American democratic politics and the populace. From Federalist #10, where Madison discusses factions and their necessity within a democratic system to theories questioning the concept of pluralism, which espouses equal representation amongst competing and countervailing influences. Notions such as fairness, equality, and access are often called into question when analyzing the influence and actions of interest groups in their pursuit of said policy-making goals. As Congress has conspicuously grown more polarized, the public’s ill view toward lobbyists and their influence have increased dramatically. However, despite this distrust the American voter has come to the realization that interest groups exercise an important part of our political system, their ability to act on behalf of those who cannot and will not speak for themselves. After all, the purpose of an interest group is to attempt to influence policy to the benefit of its members.

The following research was the result of a class requirement to choose and examine an interest group within the health care reform debate. Following the research we were required to compile a research paper detailing our chosen groups lobbying techniques to determine which of our 6 groups were the most likely to succeed in achieving their policy goal, whether said group was for or against health care reform: H. R. 3962. The Business and Trade Associations is the largest sector whose apparent goal is to maximize profits. As such, its influence in terms of lobbying techniques is widely perceived to yield the most power in terms of funding. However, when evaluated in comparison to other interest group sectors, businesses in fact have more to lose than gain. The following research is structured beginning with the most successful interest group and will conclude with the group most likely to fail. My chosen 6 interest groups are Safeway, Wal- Mart, PepsiCo Inc., NFIB, NACS, and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.

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