January 31, 2011
President Highlights Priorities in SOTU Address
President Obama outlined his priorities in his recent State of the Union address including a medical malpractice overhaul and eliminating new IRS tax reporting requirements. The President also pledged his support of action to improve the health care overhaul law. However, he does not support full scale repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) referencing the health reform repeal bill that recently passed in the House. President Obama also called for a ban on earmarks and a freeze on non-security discretionary spending but at the same time called for targeted additional investments, including funding for biomedical research.
Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy by Congressional Staff
As an advocate, your communications with your Congressional Members are important to moving IMF’s public policy agenda forward. Have you ever wondered if your voice is really being heard? The answer is yes according to the Partnership for a More Perfect Union. This report is based on an online survey of 260 congressional staff on their opinions and practices related to constituent communications, including social media. The survey was conducted between October 12 and December 13, 2010.
- The Internet, Participation and Accountability. Most staffers (87%) thought email and the Internet have made it easier for constituents to become involved in public policy. A majority of staff (57%) felt email and the Internet have made Senators and Representatives more accountable to their constituents. Less than half (41%) thought email and the Internet have increased citizens’ understanding of what goes on in Washington.
- Citizens Have More Power Than They Realize. Most of the staff surveyed said constituent visits to the Washington office (97%) and to the district/state office (94%) have “some” or “a lot” of influence on an undecided Member, more than any other influence group or strategy. When asked about strategies directed to their offices back home, staffers said questions at town hall meetings (87%) and letters to the editor (80%) have “some” or “a lot” of influence.
- It’s Not the Delivery Method – It’s the Content. There is virtually no distinction by the congressional staff we surveyed between email and postal mail. They view them as equally influential to an undecided Member. Nearly identical percentages of staffers said postal mail (90%) and email (88%) would influence an undecided Member of Congress.
- Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns – Staff are Conflicted. The congressional staff we surveyed have conflicting views and attitudes about the value of grassroots advocacy campaigns. More than one-third of congressional staff (35%) agreed that advocacy campaigns are good for democracy (25% disagreed). Most staff (90%) agreed – and more than 60% strongly agreed – that responding to constituent communications is a high priority in their offices.
- Social Media Used to Listen and Communicate. Congressional offices are integrating social media tools into their operations, both to gain an understanding of constituents’ opinions and to communicate information about the Member’s views. Nearly two-thirds of staff surveyed (64%) think Facebook is an important way to understand constituents’ views and nearly three-quarters (74%) think it is important for communicating their Member’s views.
For more information about the legislation listed above or any other IMF advocacy initiative, contact IMF’s Director of Government Relations, Christine Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-738-1498.