Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Caps on Political Lobbying

Contents:

Author Info

  • Yeon-Koo Che

    (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

  • Ian Gale

    (Georgetown University)

Abstract

The cost of political campaigns in the U.S. has risen substantially in recent years. For example, real spending on congressional election campaigns doubled between 1976 and 1992 (Steven D. Levitt [1995]). There are many reasons why increased campaign spending might be socially harmful. First, increased spending means increased fund-raising, which may keep politicians from their legislative duties.1 Second, a lobbyist who makes a large campaign contribution may have undue influence on electoral outcomes, on the shaping of legislation, or on the outcome of regulatory proceedings.2 That is, the socially preferred candidate or legislation may not prevail. Likewise, a lobbyist involved in a regulatory matter or a competition for a government contract may benefit unduly from a legislator's intervention.3 Third, a perception that campaign contributions purchase influence may lead to increased tolerance of corruption in the private sector. A desire to control campaign spending has spawned many initiatives to limit both campaign contributions and spending, beginning with the passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Political Action Committees (PACs) can contribute at most $5,000 per election to a candidate, while individuals can contribute at most $1,000. (Restrictions have also been put on in- kind contributions, making it more difficult to circumvent these limits.)4 While direct restrictions on campaign spending have proven difficult to implement, recent initiatives aim to impose voluntary spending limits and stricter limits on contributions.5 Despite the existing legislation and the proposals to limit contributions, little is known about the impact of contribution limits on aggregate expenditures. While it is intuitively appealing that aggregate expenditures would drop, we challenge that intuition here. We study a lobbying game and show that a cap on individual lobbyists' expenditures may have the perverse effect of increasing aggregate expenditures and lowering total surplus. This result suggests that a cap on campaign contributions may increase aggregate contributions.6 The next section presents the model and describes the equilibrium when lobbyists are unconstrained. We then solve for the equilibrium when lobbyists face a cap on individual expenditures. When a cap constrains the high-valuation lobbyist, a lobbyist with a lower valuation for the political prize becomes relatively more aggressive. As a consequence, total lobbying expenditures may rise. Since the high-valuation lobbyist's probability of winning the prize drops, the cap reduces total surplus if private and social valuations coincide. Concluding remarks are contained in the final section.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mic/papers/9809/9809003.ps.gz
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mic/papers/9809/9809003.html
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mic/papers/9809/9809003.doc.gz
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mic/papers/9809/9809003.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Microeconomics with number 9809003.

as in new window
Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: 30 Sep 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:9809003

Note: Type of Document - Microsoft Word 97; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP; pages: 16 ; figures: included
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://128.118.178.162

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Poole, Keith T & Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard, 1987. "The Revealed Preferences of Political Action Committees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 298-302, May.
  2. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1991. "The All-Pay Auction With Complete Information," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1007, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  3. Arye L. Hillman & John G. Riley, 1987. "Politically Contestable Rents and Transfers," UCLA Economics Working Papers 452, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1992. "Rigging the Lobbying Process: An Application of the All- Pay Auction," Papers 9-92-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  5. Helsley, Robert W. & O'Sullivan, Arthur, 1994. "Altruistic voting and campaign contributions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 107-119, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:9809003. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.