Category Archives: Elected Officials

The Net Worth of the American Presidents: Washington to Trump

Source: Grant Suneson, 24/7 Wall St., February 12, 2018

Though the presidency of the United States is a prestigious job, it does not pay as well as one might think. The annual presidential salary is $400,000, While this is still within the top 1% of American earners, it is very little when compared to the typical compensation given to America’s CEOs and executives.

However, many men who have occupied the highest office in the land did not need any salary at all. The presidency has long been a position held by men who had already inherited fortunes or earned them during their lifetimes….

Members of Congress respond to more than money – sometimes

Source: Jan Leighley, Jennifer Oser, The Conversation, February 9, 2018

Does citizen activism really affect the actions of elected officials?

Despite the ubiquitous role of money in campaigns, elections and policymaking, some citizens clearly still believe in the power of protest.

In the month of December 2017 alone, an organization called The Crowd Counting Consortiumtallied 796 protests, demonstrations, strikes, marches, sit-ins and rallies,” some of them featuring thousands of people, across the country. Over the past year, the offices of many members of Congress and other elected officials have been jammed with constituents voicing their opinions on the Affordable Care Act, the immigration program called DACA, abortion and sexual harassment, among others.

But does all of this sign waving and sitting in actually influence elected officials?

As social scientists, we have long been interested in political participation and online activism. We used this knowledge to design a study that looks at whether activism changes the votes of elected officials – and whether the effect is strong enough to mitigate the power of donated money.

What we found is that citizens can make their voices heard – at least some of the time….

Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die

Source: Eric Levitz, New York, January 26, 2018

The GOP understands how important labor unions are to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, historically, has not. If you want a two-sentence explanation for why the Midwest is turning red (and thus, why Donald Trump is president), you could do worse than that.

With its financial contributions and grassroots organizing, the labor movement helped give Democrats full control of the federal government three times in the last four decades. And all three of those times — under Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — Democrats failed to pass labor law reforms that would to bolster the union cause. In hindsight, it’s clear that the Democratic Party didn’t merely betray organized labor with these failures, but also, itself…..

Blue-state Republicans could become almost as rare as white southern Democrats

Source: The Economist, January 4, 2018

If that were to happen, Congress would become even more polarised than it already is. ….

…. She [Barbara Comstock] is one of 23 Republicans representing districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Democrats think they can flip them all, and more: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has 91 districts in its sights, the lion’s share of them in states that Mrs Clinton won or barely lost. They are, of course, unlikely to win them all. But an upset election, as this year’s midterms in November could easily be, will break first and hardest in those states—which would leave the Republican congressional caucus smaller and more strident, and risks making Congress even more dysfunctional….

IssueVoter

Source: IssueVoter, 2017

How it Works
1. Receive alerts before bills pass
Choose the issues you care about & get alerts about relevant new bills. IssueVoter summarizes them, and offers pros, cons, and related news for context, keeping you informed year-round.
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2. Send your opinion directly to your rep
With 1-click, IssueVoter lets your Rep know how you want them to vote on bills, without you having to pick up the phone or mail a letter.

3. Track your rep’s votes and bill outcomes
Your private IssueVoter profile tracks how often your elected officials vote your way, keeping politicians accountable and helping you make an informed decision at election time.

Before IssueVoter

  • Bills are hard to research and understand
  • Contacting your rep requires snail mail, picking up the phone, or filling out long forms online
  • Petitions don’t work and you never discover the outcome
  • Issues you care about are scattered across multiple single-issue organizations
  • After IssueVoter

  • Bills are summarized, along with pros, cons, and recent news
  • IssueVoter tracks your rep’s votes, bill outcomes, and how often you agree
  • Send your opinion directly to your rep in just 1-click
  • Act on all the issues you care about in one place
  • More Machine Learning About Congress’ Priorities

    Source: Jeremy B. Merrill November 20, 2017

    We keep training machine learning models on Congress. Find out what this one learned about lawmakers’ top issues.

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is a tax wonk ― and most observers of Congress know that. But knowing what interests the other 434 members of Congress is harder.

    To make it easier to know what issues each lawmaker really focuses on, we’re launching a new feature in our Represent database called Policy Priorities. We had two goals in creating it: To help researchers and journalists understand what drives particular members of Congress and to enable regular citizens to compare their representatives’ priorities to their own and their communities.

    We created Policy Priorities using some sophisticated computer algorithms (more on this in a second) to calculate interest based on what each congressperson talks ― and brags ― about in their press releases…..

    Presidential obstruction of justice: The case of Donald J. Trump

    Source: Barry H. Berke, Noah Bookbinder, and Norman Eisen, Brookings Institution, October 10, 2017

    From the introduction:
    In this paper, we break down and analyze the question of whether President Trump may have obstructed justice and explain the criminal and congressional actions that could follow from an obstruction investigation. Addressing the possibility of criminal behavior by President Trump and the complicated issues it raises is not a task that we take lightly. Dissecting allegations of criminality leveled against an individual who has been duly elected president and who has sworn to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution is an inherently solemn task. But it is our hope that by presenting a rigorous legal analysis of the potential case against the president, we will help the American people and their representatives understand the contours of the issues, regardless of whether it is eventually litigated in a court of law, the halls of Congress, or the court of public opinion.

    Our paper proceeds in four parts. In Section I, we summarize the relevant facts and allegations that can be gleaned from witness testimony and credible media reports. In Section II, we explain the law governing obstruction of justice and how it applies to the apparent facts and allegations as currently known. In Section III, we lay out the options available after Special Counsel Mueller has completed his investigation. These options include referral of the case to Congress, indictment of the president, holding the case pending removal of the president, and closing the case without indictment. Finally, in Section IV, we discuss the actions that Congress could take concurrently with or in addition to Mueller’s investigation. We explain that although Congress’s decision to take those steps is ultimately governed by both political and legal standards, there is precedent for impeaching a president on grounds that he has obstructed justice, obstructed a congressional investigation, or been convicted of a crime, should those circumstances arise.

    We also have appended a number of documents that form the factual and legal basis for this white paper. Appendix A contains a factual chronology with the sources we relied on as well as a copy of former FBI Director James Comey’s statement for the record before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Appendix B contains copies of the federal obstruction laws and other relevant criminal statutes. Appendix C contains the authorities governing Special Counsel Mueller, including the Department of Justice’s special counsel regulations and the order defining his jurisdiction. Appendix D contains the articles of impeachment we discuss, official versions of which can be difficult to locate.

    Finally, one crucial caveat that is important to note: the publication of this paper comes at a time when our understanding of the facts is still developing and without the benefit of the investigative tools that a prosecutor (or even a defense attorney) might employ. While we fully expect that our understanding of the facts relevant to this case will improve in the weeks and months ahead, we believe that the analysis we provide and the precedents we have collected will be relevant to the discussion regardless of what the investigations by Special Counsel Mueller and by Congress uncover…..

    Related:
    Appendix