Edited by Frank Fagan and Saul Levmore
Chapter 8: Interest groups and the durability of law
At any given point, lawmakers and interest groups benefit if the laws they pass are long-lived, or durable. The quest for durability explains some kinds of licensing, but a more important conclusion is that it explains a preference for spending programs, rather than mere regulation. Expenditures create endowment effects, to be sure, but spending programs are especially appealing to their beneficiaries when they bring about physical assets that future lawmakers will have no reason to dismantle. In an earlier era, the quest for durability might have generated overinvestments, as monumentalist rulers sought to leave their marks. In modern times, durability can be obtained through social programs as well as construction projects. In some settings durable projects can be reversed with targeted taxes, but recapturing previously awarded benefits is more difficult. Keywords: durability, interest groups, retroactivity, public goods, clawbacks
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