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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Brian Roberts

Professor

Brian Roberts

Contact

Biography

Professor Roberts' fields of interest are American Political Institutions, Interest Groups, and Positive Political Economy, with a focus on politics and financial markets, corporate political participation, and distributive politics. He has published papers in the fields of political science, economics and finance.

Interests

American Political Institutions, Interest Groups, and Positive Political Economy

GOV 379S • Money In Politics

39030 • Fall 2014
Meets T 330pm-630pm CLA 0.122
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350 )
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Title:   MONEY IN POLITICS-HONORS

 

Course Description

 

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money. 

Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives. We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.

The objective of the course is not to persuade you of any particular point of view but, rather, to arm you with the substantive knowledge, theoretical foundation and analytical tools needed to be resolute in whatever conclusions you draw from this experience.

Course Requirements

 

This course is an honors seminar.  As such, there is a premium on preparation and participation.  Final grades are based on class participation, two tests and two class projects:

 

Participation:   10%

1st Project:     15%

2nd Project:   20%

First Test:      25%

Second Test: 30%

 

Grades will be based on the +/- scale.

 

Texts

 

La Raja, Raymond. Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2008.

Lessig, Lawrence. Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It. New York: Twelve. 2011.

Samples, John. The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2006.

GOV 381L • Money In Us Politics

39420 • Spring 2014
Meets T 930am-1230pm BAT 1.104
show description

Course Description

 

This course explores the role, nature and consequences of money in American politics. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech, assembly and petition against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money.

Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives. We examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how and why we arrived where we are.

This course should appeal to students across a wide range of subfields within political science, including American Politics, Political Behavior, Public Law, and Public Policy. 

 

 

Course Requirements

 

Readings

 

In addition to the articles listed in the weekly readings, the following books are required for the course:

 

 

La Raja, Raymond. Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press. 2008.

 

Lessig, Lawrence. Republic Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It. Twelve. 2011.

 

McChesney, Fred. Money for Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1997.

 

Evaluation

 

Class preparation/participation, two short papers and one major research paper will be the basis for course grades.

 

Class preparation/participation: Students are expected to be prepared for and participate actively in class discussion.  Each student will lead the class discussion of at least two assigned readings.  Worth 20% of grade.

 

Short papers: Three “reaction” papers, approximately 1,000 words, in which you respond to a set of weekly readings.  Worth 30% of your grade (10% each).

 

Research Paper:  The expectation is that you produce original research intended for conference presentation and, ultimately, publication.  Students will present their research in class.  Worth 50% of your grade.

 

Course Topics

 

A partial list of potential course topics…

 

  • Equality v. Liberty:  Origins and Persistence of the Core Debate
  • The Courts Decide: It’s the 1st Amendment, Stupid
  • Corruption: The Essential Role of Competing Definitions
  • Public Opinion:  What the Public Knows and Why it Matters
  • Money Matters:  Election and Policy Outcomes
  • Political Parties, Money, and Political Competition
  • Corporations: Aren’t They Just People Too?
  • The Regulation of Campaign Finance:  The Details Matter
  • The Federal Election Commission: The Best (Worst) Federal Agency Ever?
  • Federalism: States as Campaign Finance Laboratories
  • Campaign Finance Reform: Lost Cause?

GOV 379S • Money In Politics

39350 • Fall 2013
Meets T 330pm-630pm CLA 0.122
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350 )
show description

Prerequisites 

None

 

Course Description

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money.

Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives. We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.

The objective of the course is not to persuade you of any particular point of view but, rather, to arm you with the substantive knowledge, theoretical foundation and analytical tools needed to be resolute in whatever conclusions you draw from this experience.

 

Grading Policy

Final grades are based on class participation, two tests and two class projects:

Participation:     10%

1st Project:        15%

2nd Project:       20%

First Test:          25%

Second Test:      30% 

Grades will be based on the +/- scale.

 

Texts 

La Raja, Raymond. Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2008. 

Lessig, Lawrence. Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It. New York: Twelve. 2011.

Samples, John. The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2006.

GOV 379S • Money In Politics

38875 • Fall 2012
Meets T 330pm-630pm BAT 5.102
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350 )
show description

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money.

 

Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives.  We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.  During the course we confront and seek answers to a host of questions, including, but by no means limited to:

     - How will corporations respond to the Supreme Court’s recent decision permitting unlimited    political advertising? 

     - Why did most 2008 presidential candidates abandon the system of public financing for presidential elections?

     -Why does the public believe that corporations play such a large role in funding federal election campaigns?

     -Why does the Supreme Court allow public perceptions to determine the constitutionality of campaign finance laws?

     -Why do U.S. Senators refuse to report their campaign finance activity electronically to the Federal Election Commission?

     -How and why is the Internet treated differently than other means of political communication by campaign finance laws?

     -What are the consequences of unlimited individual contributions to state election candidates in Texas?

 

Texts

Corrado, Anthony, et al. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. 2004. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; 

Corrado, Anthony and David Magleby Financing the 2008 Election. 2010. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; 

McChesney, Fred. Money For Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion.  1997. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 

Urofsky, Melvin., Money & Free Speech: Campaign Finance Reform and the Courts. 2005. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.

La Raja, Raymond.  Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. 2008. University of Michigan Press

GOV 312L • Issues & Policies In Amer Gov

38555 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm FAC 21
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Government 312L satisfies the second half of the mandated six hours of government that every UT student must take.  Course covers analysis of varying topics concerned with American political institutions and policies, including the United States Constitution, and assumes basic knowledge of government from GOV 310L, which is a prerequiste. May be taken for credit only once.

GOV 342N • Public Choice

38694 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm MEZ B0.306
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Course Description

 Public Choice describes a way of thinking about politics.  It starts with the silly assumption that people are rational – people generally know what they want and make choices accordingly – and explores its implications for the likely decisions of such political actors as voters, politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, etc..  These decisions include everything from whether to vote in an election to how to design a constitution.  One of the main objectives of the course is to assess the degree to which what we actually observe about politics is consistent with the assumption that people are rational.

 Some of the less provocative questions we will address include:

 ·         Why should anybody vote?

·         What’s the point of having a constitution?

·         Is there enough money in politics?

·         Why do we regulate anything?

·         Is majority rule a reasonable way to make decisions?

·         Is it rational to be ignorant?

The bulk of the course explores the theoretical and testable implications of rational choice across a wide range of questions in political science.

Because we explore how & why people make decisions, part of the course is devoted to developing some of the tools needed to understand decision making.  Central to the required toolset are the concepts and mechanics of Game Theory – the theory of how people make decisions when they take into account the likely responses of others to those decisions, which is pretty much always the case when it comes to politics.  So, be prepared for a lot of clear thinking and a little bit of algebra.

 The goals of the course are to acquaint you with and understand the reach of some critical tools for understanding the decisions of political actors.  If you want to change the way politics works then it is essential that you understand at the most fundamental level how it works. Nothing is more fundamental to politics than the choices people make.  If you believe that politics is largely driven by cold, heartless, self-serving decisions then this course offers essential insight.

GOV 379S • Money In Politics

38890 • Fall 2011
Meets M 300pm-600pm MEZ 1.206
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350 )
show description

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money. Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives.  We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.  During the course we confront and seek answers to a host of questions, including, but by no means limited to:

-How will corporations respond to the Supreme Court’s recent decision permitting unlimited political advertising?     

- Why did most 2008 presidential candidates abandon the system of public financing for presidential elections?    

-Why does the public believe that corporations play such a large role in funding federal election campaigns?    

-Why does the Supreme Court allow public perceptions to determine the constitutionality of campaign finance laws?     -Why do U.S. Senators refuse to report their campaign finance activity electronically to the Federal Election Commission?   

-How and why is the Internet treated differently than other means of political communication by campaign finance laws?    

-What are the consequences of unlimited individual contributions to state election candidates in Texas?

 

Texts:

Corrado, Anthony, et al. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. 2004. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; Corrado, Anthony and David Magleby Financing the 2008 Election. 2010. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; McChesney, Fred. Money For Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion.  1997. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; Urofsky, Melvin., Money & Free Speech: Campaign Finance Reform and the Courts. 2005. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.La Raja, Raymond.  Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. 2008. University of Michigan Press

 

Requirements:

In addition to a midterm exam and meeting expectations of strong class participation, students engage in two significant projects over the course of the semester, first in the role of campaign finance consultants advising either a candidate or a political action committee, and second as members of a legal team preparing for a (marginally fictitious) Supreme Court case confronting the constitutional challenges posed by campaign finance laws.

GOV 381L • Money In Us Politics

38904 • Fall 2011
Meets TH 330pm-630pm BAT 1.104
show description

Description coming soon...

GOV 379S • Money In Politics

38760 • Fall 2010
Meets M 300pm-600pm MEZ 2.202
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350 )
show description

Description:

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years.   The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money.

     Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives.  We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here. 

      During the course we confront and seek answers to a host of questions, including, but by no means limited to,

 - How will corporations respond to the Supreme Court’s recent decision permitting unlimited political advertising? 

- Why did most 2008 presidential candidates abandon the system of public financing for presidential elections?

-Why does the public believe that corporations play such a large role in funding federal election campaigns?

-Why does the Supreme Court allow public perceptions to determine the constitutionality of campaign finance laws?

-Why do U.S. Senators refuse to report their campaign finance activity electronically to the Federal Election Commission?

-How and why is the Internet treated differently than other means of political communication by campaign finance laws?

-What are the consequences of unlimited individual contributions to state election candidates in Texas?

 

Texts:

Corrado, Anthony, et al. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. 2004. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; 

Corrado, Anthony and David Magleby Financing the 2008 Election. 2010. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; 

McChesney, Fred. Money For Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion.  1997. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 

Urofsky, Melvin., Money & Free Speech: Campaign Finance Reform and the Courts. 2005. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.

La Raja, Raymond.  Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. 2008. University of Michigan Press

Other readings as assigned

 

Requirements:

In addition to a midterm exam and meeting expectations of strong class participation, students engage in two significant projects over the course of the semester, first in the role of campaign finance consultants advising either a candidate or a political action committee, and second as members of a legal team preparing for a (marginally fictitious) Supreme Court case confronting the constitutional challenges posed by campaign finance laws.

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