You could donate to Darcy’s congressional campaign and not hate yourself a year from now:
Why do lobbyists have so much influence? Lots of people give campaign contributions; what is it that lobbyists are doing differently? Right now, most of the policy work in Congress is done by staff whose average age is 26, and who are typically covering 4-6 major policy areas each. If they’re lucky, they might really understand one of those policy areas. So when a lobbyist walks in and says, “Ok, here’s what you need to know about this bill your boss has to vote on tomorrow, here’s how your boss should vote, and here are your talking points,” and that’s the only information they’re given, of course the lobbyist will usually succeed.
It wasn’t always this way: there used to be internal think tanks in the House where members would pool their resources to hire deep experts in some topic area. There were, for example, experts on nuclear nonproliferation and arms control. So if a member of Congress wanted to know how big a threat Iran’s nuclear program is, or the impact of some piece of legislation with sanctions, there were deep experts they could consult who were part of their team. Gingrich banned shared funding of staff and canned those expert staffers in order to consolidate power, and as a consequence members have to rely on lobbyists, leadership, or outside organizations like the Heritage Foundation for the information they need. That’s totally fixable – and it could conceivably be fixed in the first week of a new Congress.
Big showdown tonight. Apparently Occupiers broke into City Hall and are now occupying:
She’s one of the most compelling live performers I’ve ever seen. Mary Gauthier:
NYT reporters don’t seem to have access to the same facts as NYT columnist Paul Krugman, maybe because he doesn’t have an intranet connection to the newsroom. I’m kidding, but who knows? More here.
They’d announced last week that they would close in the spring, but instead shut down Friday. Of course, I’m sure Mayor Rahm would have done something to help if he’d known! (Not.) The settlement house model was a successful one, but a lot of people are invested in the idea that spending money on poor people is a waste:
CHICAGO (AP) — Hull House, the Chicago social services organization founded more than 120 years ago by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams, closed Friday after running out of money.
The agency said the poor economy resulted in more demand for its services but also made it harder to raise money to cover its costs. Hull House has been providing child care, job training, housing assistance and other services for 60,000 people a year in the Chicago area.
The agency had announced plans to close in the spring, but Friday’s shutdown was unexpected, striking some 300 employees with a devastating and unexpected blow. They received layoff notices and final paychecks and then spent the day packing their belongings and saying tearful good-byes. Many said they were startled to learn their insurance ended almost two weeks ago.
“It’s been my life,” said Dianne Turner, who spent 25 years teaching families in Chicago housing projects how to break the cycle of poverty. “It wasn’t about the pay. It was about seeing a family go from feeling hopeless to being hopeful and feeling like they can do things.”
Turner said she knows what it’s like to live in the projects and dream of something better. She got her first job as a teenager through Hull House and said the organization helped teach her the value of education, how to save money and how to be a leader.
Founded in 1889, Hull House was the best known of the 400 settlement houses in the United States in the early 1900s. The settlements were designed to provide services to immigrants and the poor while uplifting them through culture, education and recreation. At its peak, Hull House served more than 9,000 people a week, offering medical help, an art gallery, citizenship classes, a gardening club and a gym with sports programs.