Congressional Analytic Capacity, Party Polarization, and the Political Economy of Revolving Door Lobbying

33 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2016

See all articles by Tim LaPira

Tim LaPira

James Madison University

Herschel Thomas

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Government

Date Written: August 9, 2016

Abstract

We argue that the market for lobbying services is a function of two key features of modern American politics: (1) the decline in Congress’s analytic capacity and (2) the concentration of agenda setting powers to party leaders that has come with increased polarization in government. These trends have made the legislative process much more uncertain to external stakeholders. As a result, revolving door lobbyists’ strategic political process knowledge has increased their value relative to substantive, policy-oriented lobbyists. In a departure from previous work, our model does not rely on the assumption that revolving door lobbyists sell “access” to specific policymakers. Rather, revolving door lobbyists offer organized interests a form of political insurance against the perceived risk of chaotic, unpredictable government action (or inaction). We draw on our original data set of the career histories of more than 630 contract lobbyists. We find that revolving door lobbyists generate at least twice the revenue per year than those without government experience, especially with more senior positions Capitol Hill. These findings have important consequences for political reform: efforts to minimize the influence of lobbyists and special interests need to first look at how Congress itself has created a system that rewards those who spin through the revolving door.

Keywords: lobbying, revolving door, political economy

JEL Classification: D72, D78

Suggested Citation

LaPira, Timothy M. and Thomas, Herschel, Congressional Analytic Capacity, Party Polarization, and the Political Economy of Revolving Door Lobbying (August 9, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2827615 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2827615

Timothy M. LaPira (Contact Author)

James Madison University ( email )

91 E Grace St
MSC 7705
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
United States
5405685309 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.jmu.edu/polisci/faculty_lapira.shtml

Herschel Thomas

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Government ( email )

College of Liberal Arts
1 University Station A1800
Austin, TX 78712
United States

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