The way corporations have managed to influence how decisions and policies are made by congress has generated a lot of interest because of the huge amounts of money handled and used by the PACs. PACs are using financial incentives to coerce legislators by promising lucrative deals and positions in their corporations. This paper seeks to address why PACs are compromising democracy in congressional votes and why they need to be eliminated.
Campaign finance puts pressure on legislators when making policy decisions in congress (Brooks, Cameron, and Carter, 1998). It is common for most PACs to select a specific individual and provide him with a mandate and direction of the issues that he will be campaigning and vote for, in congress. The money normally easily sways most of these individuals. Most politicians are of the view that political campaigns are costly in nature. This has caused them to support the PACs that aid them in their endeavors to gain congressional votes and eventually win a seat.
Most of the contributions made by PAC come from the rich individual and large corporate firms that have the financial background. Additionally, PACs may consist of labor lobby groups. Ideally, the individuals and corporations normally contribute for their own interests and that of their companies. This implies that the average American individual is the one who suffers most as a congress member may be indirectly coerced to make laws and pass policies that favor the rich individuals or corporations. Most legislators will tend to support the positions of PACs. According to Conley and McCabe (2008), the political action committees increasing contributions tend to have a direct effect in their increase in power and influence in Washington. According to Goel (2014), corporation PACs tend to have more corruption than labor PACs.
The increase in the number of PACs has outnumbered and has been a form of replacement for political parties. Most of the political parties find it hard to represent the needs of its members and only focus on the needs of the PACs. Legislators who have PACs that have adequate financial backing can be able to afford extreme television advertisements, which increase their popularity among individuals. This may mean that the average political party that has financial constraints cannot equally represent itself among the American people. The funds from the PACs can be used to downplay and ridicule other competitive political parties, which clearly show a lack of democracy.
For congressional members serving their last terms, the PACs may influence how they choose to make decisions. According to Conley and McCabe (2008), PACs may have the effect of convincing a congressional member to support their causes without applying his or her conscience. This is normally based on the promise of a lucrative private sector post-retirement position (Conley and McCabe, 2008). Additionally, congressional members may vote in a certain way based on the promise of large donations from the PACs. This may indicate a situation where money is exchanged for votes, which is a worrying trend that is compromising the democratic process.
PACs continue to impact important decisions in areas such as agriculture, defense and automobile industry. The increase in corruption especially among corporate PACs warrants and provides sufficient justification that if checks are not introduced a disaster is likely to occur. However, the First amendment has made it difficult to control how the PACs operate. Allegations of corruption and issues of buying votes may make the PACs respond by adjusting how they allocate their financial backing. For instance, on important high visibility issues they may reduce their financial backing but increase financial backing on issues of low visibility. It is in view of all this factors and issues discussed that PACs need to be eliminated.
Brooks, J. C., Cameron, A., & Carter, C. A. (1998). Political Action Committee contributions and U.S. congressional voting on sugar legislation. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 80(3), 441.
Conley, D. and McCabe, B.J. (2008). Bribery or Just Desserts? Evidence on the Influence of Congressional Voting Patterns on PAC Contributions from Exogenous Variation in the Sex Mix of Legislator Offspring. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w13945.pdf
Goel, R. K. (2014). PACking a punch: Political Action Committees and corruption. Applied Economics, 46(11), 1161-1169.