This paper is a short, nontechnical exposition of the political economy of protection. It asks how do political forces operate to generate protection, and what determines the magnitude and form that protection takes.
Prior to the congressional vote, organized labor threatened to punish legislators who voted for NAFTA. Building on work by Engel and Jackson, we explore whether or not organized labor made good on its threat by reducing campaign contributions to House members who voted YES. We postulate contribution functions for both Democrats and Republicans, with pre-NAFTA vote contributions on the horizontal axis and post-NAFTA vote contributions on the vertical axis. For members of both parties, we find that a YES vote on NAFTA results in a change in the contribution function, which is a combination of a downward proportional shift and a downward parallel shift.
Abstract — Sugar growers have been capturing substantial rents from the U.S. sugar program. Despite well-documented huge welfare losses of this program, legislators have always voted against phasing it out. This paper uses Tobit analysis to explore the determinants of campaign contributions from the sugar industry to Senators from 1989 to 2002. It finds that the power and willingness of the Senators to protect sugar influence the campaign contributions significantly: Membership of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee attracts $4,266 of sugar contributions per two-year election cycle. Membership of the relevant subcommittee that deals with sugar legislation is even more profitable than membership of the agriculture committee alone: membership of the Agricultural Production, Marketing, and Stabilization of Prices Subcommittee is worth an additional $2179 for a total of $6,445. These results suggest the strength of the subcommittee in drafting specialized legislation and attracting interested members. Moreover, while the particular party affiliation does not make any difference, membership of the majority party is worth $1,235. Finally, an impressionable freshman Senator from a sugar cane state receives $8,366 more than a more senior senator from a non- sugar state.