Category Archives: Politics

MAPLight.org

Source: MAPLight.org, 2009

MAPLight.org, a groundbreaking public database, illuminates the connection between campaign donations and legislative votes in unprecedented ways. Elected officials collect large sums of money to run their campaigns, and they often pay back campaign contributors with special access and favorable laws.

This common practice is contrary to the public interest, yet legal. MAPLight.org makes money/vote connections transparent, to help citizens hold their legislators accountable.

The Database

MAPLight.org combines three data sets:

* Bill texts and legislative voting records
* Supporting and opposing interests for each bill
* Campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics

Combining this data makes visible key information that could never before be determined easily. For example:

* Contributions given by interests supporting and opposing each bill
* Average donations given to legislators voting Yes and No on each bill
* Timeline of contributions and votes for each bill, graphically identifying when legislators received large donations before or after their vote.

Do Community-Based Voter Mobilization Campaigns Work Even in Battleground States? Evaluating the Effectiveness Of MoveOn’s 2004 Outreach Campaign

Source: Joel A. Middleton and Donald P. Green, Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Vol. 3, 2008

From the abstract:
One of the hallmarks of the 2004 presidential election was the unusual emphasis on face-to-face voter mobilization, particularly face-to-face mobilization conducted within neighborhoods or social networks. Unlike previous studies of face-to-face voter mobilization, which have focused largely on nonpartisan campaigns conducted during midterm or local elections, this study assesses the effects of a campaign organized by MoveOn.org, an organization that allied itself with the Democratic Party in 2004 to aid presidential candidate John Kerry. A regression discontinuity analysis of 46,277 voters from 13 swing states demonstrates that neighbor-to-neighbor mobilization substantially increased turnout among target voters during the 2004 presidential election. Contact with MoveOn volunteers increased turnout by approximately nine percentage-points. This finding corroborates experimental findings showing the effectiveness of door-to-door canvassing but contradicts results suggesting that such mobilization is ineffective in the context of high-salience elections.

To “Re-Hatch” Public Employees or Not? An Ethical Analysis of the Relaxation of Restrictions on Political Activities in Civil Service

Source: James S. Bowman and Jonathan P. West, Public Administration Review, Vol. 69 no. 1, January/February 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study examines the ethical content of legislation regulating the political activities of civil servants. The analysis is done using the “ethics triangle,” a tool that encompasses the interdependence of results-based utilitarian ethics, rule-based duty ethics, and virtue-based character ethics. The discussion begins with the importance of the problem, followed by its evolution and current status. After describing the methodology, the central section investigates the values at stake. The conclusion provides a synthesis of the findings, explores the implications of the study, and attempts to answer the question posed in the title of the paper.

Union Membership and Political Inclusion

Source: Roland Zullo, Industrial and Labor Relations, Vol. 62, No. 1, October 2008
(subscription required)

Using county-level data, the author evaluates how labor affected the general population’s political behavior during the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Voter turnout increased with unionization, but at declining rates with higher levels of unionization. The unionization/voter turnout link was stronger in counties with lower median incomes, higher income inequality, and lower levels of education, suggesting that unions partially closed the political participation gap between low- and high-SES (socioeconomic status) populations. State right-to-work laws, and the absence of collective bargaining rights for public employees, reduced labor’s ability to increase voter turnout. The union effect on candidate preference had a positive, curvilinear association with union membership, but this effect was stronger in high-SES regions than in low-SES regions. Overall, these results imply a paradox for organized labor: unions can effectively increase working-class voter turnout, but they have difficulty persuading the working class to vote for pro-labor political candidates.

Rising Productivity, Deepening Inequality

Source: Horst Brand, Dissent, Vol. 55 no. 4, Fall 2008

Last January, the New York Times reported that assembly line workers at Detroit automobile factories, who have been earning around $28 per hour, would be “bought out” and gradually replaced by workers earning as little as half of that. … “In one industry alone, airlines, wage and pension concessions given back to employers since 2001… totaled over $15 billion,” Writes Labor Notes. Yet, output per hour in air transportation rose at an average annual rate of 2.9 percent between 1987 and 2005, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); it rose 3.8 percent in motor vehicles manufacturing. These to examples illustrate what is happening to the bargaining power of trade unions – a steady weakening, a loss that began with the defeat of the air traffic controllers strike in 1981 by Ronald Regan’s administration, a loss, therefore, that is political in nature. And it is in this sense that we must view the widening gap between the advances of productivity and the stagnation of working people’s incomes.

Health Care, Immigration, and Other HR-Related Issues Dominate 2008 U.S. Presidential Election Campaigns

Source: Hewitt Associates, Press Release, September 23, 2008

Hewitt Associates is closely tracking developments in the 2008 U.S. presidential election that may ultimately have an impact on employers. A number of proposals already included in candidates’ campaigns have the potential to affect employer-provided health benefits, hiring practices, leave of absence policies, payroll, and employer-sponsored retirement plans.

•2008 Presidential Election: Candidates’ Health Care Proposals (updated 09/22/08)
•2008 Presidential Election: Candidates’ Retirement and Related Policies (updated 09/22/08)
•2008 Presidential Election: Candidates’ Employment Proposals (updated 09/22/08)

Two Prescriptions for America’s Ills

Source: Consumer Reports, Vol. 73 no. 11, November 2008
(subscription required)

McCain and Obama offer conflicting health plans. Here’s how you’d fare.

Politics aside, Americans overwhelmingly agree that our health-care system needs emergency care. It costs too much, is riddled with waste, and completely leaves out about 46 million people. …

… Their approaches are radically different. Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona, Would create a deregulated national insurance market, expand individual coverage, and rely on competition to drive costs down. People with serious health problems could join government subsidized high-risk pools like those that many states run today. Sen. Barack Obama, on the other hand, would set national standards to plug coverage gaps, require that all children be covered, stop insurers from turning sick people away, and subsidize lower-income families’ premiums. The Illinois Democrat’s aim is to spread the risk so broadly that everyone will be able to afford good insurance.

See also:
Health Cost Calculator – Assess your insurance coverage against five typical insurance needs.

Presidential Candidates On Health Reform

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, September 2008

– A detailed side-by-side of the candidates’ proposals on health reform
– Kaiser Foundation’s polling on the topic
Video clips of the candidates discussing health reform are available online.

Additionally, the Foundation has updated two key resources on the uninsured to reflect health coverage data from 2007. You may view the most recent versions of Five Basic Facts on the Uninsured, and The Uninsured and Their Access to Care fact sheet.

The latest 2007 data on health coverage and demographics for all 50 states and the nation has also been updated on Kaiser’s statehealthfacts.org, and the Foundation’s Kaiser Commission on Medicaid, and the Uninsured’s interactive Medicaid and Children’s Health fact sheets.

For more in-depth analysis and coverage of health care and the 2008 elections, you may visit our health08.org web site. Stay tuned in the coming days for additional election-related resources from the Foundation.