Rally on Capitol Mall

The Importance of Persistent Activism

“I call, write, and email my members of Congress all the time and I never get a real answer from the staff or intern who answers the phone.  I don’t see the point in contacting them and wasting my time. I feel like because I never get an answer, my voice is never heard.”

Does this sound familiar?

It is important to know that regardless of whether a staff member gives you a definitive answer, your ideas and concerns are being heard.

Here is what typically happens when you call a Congressional office.

The staff member will answer the phone and take note of your concern. Pithy, fact-based inquires about where your representative stands will always go further than yelling or resorting to abusive comments. If the staff member reveals very little information on where the representative stands on an issue, do not lose hope. Your voice has been heard.

Throughout the day, a staff member will receive hundreds of calls and emails on a variety of topics.  Staffs update and maintain a quick tally on the most talked about issues.  Depending on the quantity of those constituent interactions, the member of Congress, Chief of Staff, or Legislative Director will identify concerns that are also most important to a district.  If a certain issue reaches a particularly high volume of call-ins, a member will have no choice but to defend his or her position and issue a response.

Now you might be saying, “Well I track their actions in Congress, contact them on issues that they will be voting on, and still I receive no answer.”  This means more inquires about these issues are needed.  New names and addresses flowing into their offices raises the level of concern for those members. The staff will assume constituents are becoming increasingly educated on these issues and that the grassroots in their district is organized and motivated. When members lack control over the narrative in their district, they know the status quo has been threatened.

All jobs require persistence and dedication to achieve a successful outcome. Congressional accountability is no different. Calling, emailing, writing – these are all critical in the fight for lasting accountability.

Read More
Busy highway

Transportation Secretary Calls for ‘Long-Term’ Solution to Transpo Funding

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called for Americans across the country to “get a little noisier” on the issue transportation funding Wednesday and asked them to pressure Congress to come up with a long-term solution to the issue.

Foxx approved of the $10.9 billion stopgap lawmakers enacted last week to keep the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) solvent through next May but wants Congress to pass a multi-year bill before the year’s end, Politico Pro reports (sub. req’d).  He said that Americans just need to be given the facts “as we know them.”

If that’s the case, Americans should know that “many individual states are trying to compensate for the lack of congressional action on long term funding by raising additional revenue of their own,” according to Ken Orski of Innovation NewsBriefs.  

Read More

Obama’s Lawless Actions

Heritage Action CEO Michael A. Needham discussed President Obama’s lawlessness on Fox News Sunday.   The panel also included the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel, Fox News contributor Juan Williams, and National Journal’s Ron Fournier.   Watch the exchange below.

Read More
Busy highway

How States Compensate for Less Federal Transportation Funding

In Kenneth Orski’s latest Innovation Brief, Orski explains what the states have done to buffer themselves from the effects of less transportation funding from the federal government — and it’s not the dire picture being painted by big spenders in Washington: 

While transportation stakeholders and the Washington press corps are focusing on the impending Highway Trust Fund shortfall and the emerging House-Senate consensus to “patch” the Fund with $10.8 billion in short-term funding until May 2015, they are ignoring developments outside the Beltway that go a long way to compensate for the lack of an assurance of long-term federal funding.  For in fact, individual states, far from sitting idly by, are responding to the current fiscal uncertainties in Washington by stepping up and raising additional revenue to meet their transportation needs. 

Twenty-eight states have launched transportation-related revenue initiatives according to surveys by the American Road and Builders Association (ARTBA), the National Council of State Legislatures and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

Collectively, these measures are generating billions of additional dollars for state and local transportation programs and providing a buffer against the possibility of delayed federal reimbursements and inadequate federal funding.

State officials we have talked to are quick to remind that “we cannot do it all” and that all levels of government, including the federal government, should share in the cost of maintaining and improving the nation’s highways.  But they concede that the recent revenue initiatives by various state legislatures are helping to relieve concerns about a slowdown in highway construction and cushion the impact of any eventual reduction in federal funding.   

 

Read More

Ex-Im Bank: “Unjustified, Inefficient Corporate Welfare”

Many Americans may not have heard of the Export-Import Bank — a fact frequently noted by the media — but the fight over whether or not to renew the Bank’s charter before it expires in September is a pivotal one in Washington this year. Politicians’ stance on the issue will serve as a litmus test for their commitment to Main Street rather than well connected special interests.

The good news, as NPR reports, is that Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is leading the charge against the Bank’s reauthorization.

With Hensarling and other top House Republican leaders ready to kill the bank, it may be difficult for the bank to get the votes it needs to stay in business.

Why are they so staunchly opposed? Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus center describes the Bank this way, and explains why anyone who really understands how the Bank works should oppose it:

We don’t agree on much in Washington. But given all of the economic and social problems our nation faces, everyone should agree that the federal government should not direct our limited public resources primarily to wealthy, politically connected corporations. This is what the Export-Import Bank does.

Some say that there are good reasons to continue doing this. They say that the bank, known as the Ex-Im Bank, promotes U.S. exports, protects jobs and is a good deal for taxpayers. None of these arguments withstand scrutiny.

And Daniel Boudreaux, an economist at George Mason University agrees:

“In my camp, the Export-Import Bank has always been a prime example of unjustified, inefficient corporate welfare,” Boudreaux says. “The fact that there’s a Tea Party movement now, that’s what gives opposition to the Export-Import Bank some legs to stand on now.”

Read More