Dear White Staffers: It’s Time We Listened
The Instagram account that shines a light on why working on Capitol Hill can be so disheartening.
Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: The Unbearable Lightness of Nikki
SONNY BUNCH: Does Anyone Care About the Winter Olympics? and The Tao of Jackass. 🔐 and Breaking Down the 2022 Oscar Nominations.
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
New from me: Dear White Staffers: It’s Time We Listened.
Beyond the internships are the low-level staff jobs. One of the more soul-crushing realities of getting such a Hill job is that you quickly learn that you are easily replaceable. And everyone has a shelf life, a limit to how long they can keep doing the work given the conditions of the job. There are benefits to working in a congressional office—student loan repayment stipends, a nice health care system, a pension and thrift savings plan—but they can only make up for the downsides for so long. Unless you’re wealthy, you are going to have either a horrible commute or lots of roommates in subpar housing. You might encounter racial discrimination in the office. There is very limited room for advancement, since there are so many more junior jobs than senior ones. And in the end, if you can’t take it anymore, there are literally a hundred people willing to do your job and not complain.
So in a lot of congressional offices, complaints just aren’t aired. Not many staffers want to upend their lives to sue—an uncertain and expensive proposition, and one that risks derailing a career.
As valuable as Dear White Staffers is in airing these problems, the Instagram account’s push for unionizing congressional staffers doesn’t make much sense, despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s openness to the idea. Congress is basically 441 little fiefdoms—more if you count committees and their staffers—each with differing leave and H.R. policies. It does not seem likely that many congressional offices will unionize—and the ones that do will inevitably be the ones that need it least.
When Kevin McCarthy deposed Liz Cheney, he thought she'd just go away. Instead, he empowered his greatest enemy. And if he ever gets the speaker's gavel, he'll be held hostage to Marjorie Taylor Greene. Adam Kinzinger joins Charlie Sykes on today's podcast.
AMANDA CARPENTER writes: Don’t Cry for Mark Meadows (Or Let Him Cry to You).
In late December 2020, Meadows traveled to Georgia for a “surprise visit” to inspect a county audit. He was also on the call where President Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find the votes” to flip the state’s election results. Cheney has mentioned that “at the time of that call, he appears to have been texting other participants on the call.”
Meadows loves to text. As Jeffrey Clark attempted to alter the Department of Justice’s determinations about election fraud, the committee disclosed that Meadows texted “multiple times” with an unnamed member of Congress who was working with Clark.
What was Meadows doing? Helping the efforts to overturn the election or trying to hinder them? Well, that’s what the committee wants to talk to him about. But in case you’re looking to make an educated guess, Meadows did do that Trump apologia of a book. And he did recently pocket a $1 million donation from Trump’s PAC to his non-profit.
You do the math.
JAMES C. CAPRETTA argues: It’s Time for Federal Budgeting Rules to Match the New Reality.
To ease its workload, Congress should eliminate the repetitiveness and pass into law each year only changes to the funding amounts and the conditions it wants attached to the spending authority. There would be base language in permanent federal law for each account that would be operative absent further amendment. The annual appropriations bills thus would become much shorter in length, and include only changes to the base appropriations language rather than full rewrites.
Eliminating hundreds of pages of redundant legislative language would allow for a rethinking of what constitutes an appropriation measure, with a shift away from a fully narrative presentation to one that features consolidated listings of funding amounts. (New Zealand’s parliament, to pick one example, does something along these lines, making annual appropriations for many government activities by spelling out line-item spending authority in tabular format.) Further, Congress has written tables into tax laws to establish important legal parameters. A heavier focus on the dollars provided in appropriation measures would improve the transparency of Congress’s spending decisions.
I may not be watching the Olympics… But this story will make your day. 🇺🇸
Not exactly the rebuke I wanted… But I’ll take it, Mitch. Meanwhile, some MAGA hacks like Newsweek’s Josh Hammer aren’t taking McConnell’s criticism of the RNC well.
Do you even want this job? It’s not clear, Rep. Reschenthaler.
Oh no, the trade deficit! Oh wait. We’re killing it in exports? Cool.
Leaving the barn door open… A kooky Texas Republican accused the Capitol Police of nefarious intent, but turns out, somebody on his staff left the barn door open during a holiday week. The irony? He’s a bad cop who was fired for, among many other things, destroying evidence. Great going, Texas!
The Onion is on fire. It’s like the GOP culture warriors are just giving them gifts.
MEANWHILE, IN THE WORLD OF NFTs… A hipster couple was arrested for allegedly laundering billions, yes, billions with a b, in stolen crypto. Here is one of the suspects’ rap videos.
Max Boot wonders… Why do we listen to people who have no idea what they’re talking about?
Dulles’s SR-71… NOT to be confused with the CIA’s A-12, the former of which is on display at the Air and Space Museum. And if that whets your fancy, read the story about Walter Ray and how years after he died, urban explorers found his secret crash site.
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email email@example.com. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.