Whose Bills? Corporate Interests and Conservative Mobilization Across the U.S. States, 1973-2013
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CitationHertel-Fernandez, Alexander W. 2016. Whose Bills? Corporate Interests and Conservative Mobilization Across the U.S. States, 1973-2013. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractIn recent decades, conservative groups have become increasingly active in mobilizing corporations to press their interests not just on the U.S. Congress and federal agencies, but also on legislatures in the fifty U.S. states. Why and how has such mobilization occurred, what accounts for its effectiveness in certain contexts, and what has been the response from liberal actors? To develop answers to these questions, this dissertation examines the rise and impact of one group – the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – and two of its allies, the State Policy Network (SPN) and Americans for Prosperity (AFP), on the American political economy.
Using a combination of archival evidence, interviews, and quantitative analyses, I document the ways that ALEC has developed especially effective strategies for negotiating the tensions inherent in coalitions between diverse businesses and political conservatives, and also how the group has exploited the low levels of policy resources available to lawmakers in many state legislatures.
Next, I illustrate how the two newer networks – SPN and AFP – have bolstered ALEC’s efforts in the states. Using two important case studies – retrenchment of public employee bargaining rights and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act – I show how the strength and coordination of these three networks exerts an independent effect on the substance of state policy. I also discuss the reasons why left-wing efforts to construct a similar infrastructure of progressive cross-state lobbying groups have faltered.
In the final empirical chapter, I look at the companies that have chosen to participate in ALEC and SPN. I find that above all, companies with greater threats from public policy were more likely to rely on these organizations. The second half of the chapter turns from explaining participation in ALEC to its effects on individual companies. My analysis shows that companies that participate in ALEC for longer periods of time are more likely to hold conservative policy stands and to exhibit less socially responsible labor and environmental practices. The conclusion summarizes the major contributions of the dissertation, and discusses its implications for debates about money in politics and political representation in an era of increasing inequality.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493552
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