Andrea Batista Schlesinger
Congress fails the middle class…again
So much talk about the politics, and who is campaigning with President Bush, and what Karl Rove is or is not freed up to focus on, and where the contributions are flowing.
It's easy to forget that the Congressional midterm elections are not just a referendum on the political parties or a bellweather for the '08 presidential campaign. They are actually about something a bit more substantive, namely whether Congress actually fulfilled its mission of voting in the interest of the people who put them into office.
Today, DMI releases our third annual scorecard of Congress, "Congress at the Midterm: Their 2005 Middle-Class Record," and the results are not positive. In fact, the results are pathetic. In vote after vote, Congress disdained the concerns of middle-class Americans and opted instead to favor the already wealthy and powerful: a surefire recipe for a shrinking middle class.
We release this scorecard each year because there are too few tools to engage the broad swath of Americans who want to work their way into the middle class or just try to hold onto their spot in a discussion about policy. When people actually do focus on policy, they often do it in these limited silos -- today is "tax day" or tomorrow is about "choice" and Friday we'll do "higher education" and then we'll talk about the "middle class" but we won't actually connect it to policy, to the actual votes that our legislators make that determine whether this thing called the middle class can exist.
The public is dissatisfied with Congress. They have a gut feeling that no one in DC is representing their interests. Well, as the scorecard showed, they are right. Congress championed the wish lists of oil companies, the insurance industry, and credit card issuers over the concerns of middle-class consumers and small businesses, while making it harder for ordinary citizens to hold corporate wrong-doers accountable.
Will we make friends out of this report? No. The party in power deserves most of the blame, but too many Democrats were right behind them on critical issues like the bankruptcy bill, preserving our civil justice system, and the Energy Bill, Inc. But we're not in it to make friends, as evidenced by our decision to launch a 30-day Google Ad Word campaign today. Whenever anyone googles a member of Congress, an ad will pop up revealing that representative's score on our scorecard, with a link to our report. (Try it, but hold yourself back - we pay by the click).
The only way Congress will ever make better policy is if they know their constituents are watching.
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Read what other blogs are saying on the scorecard
Ben Smith on NY Daily News
The Daily Gotham
The Huffington Post
Freedom's Fire, Brightly Burning
Free Exchange On Campus