Lobbying America tells the story of the political mobilization of American business in the 1970s and 1980s. Benjamin Waterhouse traces the rise and ultimate fragmentation of a broad-based effort to unify the business community and promote a fiscally conservative, antiregulatory, and market-oriented policy agenda to Congress and the country at large. Arguing that business's political involvement was historically distinctive during this period, Waterhouse illustrates the changing power and goals of America's top corporate leaders.
Examining the rise of the Business Roundtable and the revitalization of older business associations such as the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Waterhouse takes readers inside the mind-set of the powerful CEOs who responded to the crises of inflation, recession, and declining industrial productivity by organizing an effective and disciplined lobbying force. By the mid-1970s, that coalition transformed the economic power of the capitalist class into a broad-reaching political movement with real policy consequences. Ironically, the cohesion that characterized organized business failed to survive the ascent of conservative politics during the 1980s, and many of the coalition's top goals on regulatory and fiscal policies remained unfulfilled. The industrial CEOs who fancied themselves the "voice of business" found themselves one voice among many vying for influence in an increasingly turbulent and unsettled economic landscape.
Complicating assumptions that wealthy business leaders naturally get their way in Washington, Lobbying America shows how economic and political powers interact in the American democratic system.
Benjamin C. Waterhouse is associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
"Waterhouse's Lobbying America is an intricate, well-woven history of the efforts by business to influence U.S. politics. Waterhouse tells the story of how the business community came to lobby with an increasingly unified voice against a background of societal change, shifting cultural values, and an increasingly global economy. . . . Immediately of interest to political scientists and historians, this engaging history of business, politics, and societal change will find a wider audience among readers interested in national politics."--Choice
"Lobbying America is a deeply researched, persuasively argued study that makes important contributions to our understanding of the relationship of business and politics."--Elizabeth Fones-Wolf, Journal of American History
"The era explored by Waterhouse is rich with complex details. Managing such complexity is a monumental task. Ultimately, Waterhouse succeeds in convincing the reader that corporate lobbyists working on 'small details and short-term benefits' supplanted lobbyists focused on 'big-ticket ideological issues.'"--Scott H. Ainsworth, Economic History Review
"[Waterhouses’s] focus on business lobbying is perceptive and elegantly written and Waterhouse has made an important contribution to the literature on business and politics in the twentieth century."--Gregory L. Schneider, American Historical Review
"Lobbying America explores the fractious history of business influence over American politics and brilliantly charts the business establishment's post-1970 counteroffensive against what its leaders saw as oppressive taxation, regulatory overreach, and an arrogant union movement. Attuned to the political successes and failures of organized business, Waterhouse has produced a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand the United States' late twentieth-century embrace of free market ideology."--Edward Balleisen, Duke University
Table of Contents:
Introduction: American Business, American Politics 1
Chapter 1: From Consensus to a Crisis of Confidence 14
Chapter 2: A New Life for Old Lobbies 46
Chapter 3: The Birth of the Business Roundtable 76
Chapter 4: Business, Labor, and the Politics of Inflation 106
Chapter 5: The Producer versus the Consumer 140
Chapter 6: Uncertain Victory: Big Business and the Politics of Regulatory Reform 174
Chapter 7: A Tale of Two Tax Cuts 201
Chapter 8: Every Man His Own Lobbyist 229
Epilogue: American Politics, American Business 255