Opinion & Analysis

Congress is crawling with rich kids. I should know, I was one of them
Unpaid internships are breeding a crisis on the Hill

Paying interns would break the cycle of prep school privilege that dominates the Capitol, Freedman writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made headlines for one unprecedented move after another, from primarying a member of the Democratic leadership to introducing a Green New Deal. But perhaps her most shocking decision yet is also one that is painfully obvious: paying her staff and interns a living wage.

See, working for Congress should be an opportunity for Americans of every background to serve their country and elected leaders. Instead, the low — and in the case of interns, often nonexistent — pay for young people on the Hill makes working in Washington, D.C., prohibitively expensive for all but a wealthy and connected few. Or, as Ocasio-Cortez aide Dan Riffle put it when describing the Hill staffers he’s encountered, “These are careerists. These are people who grew up on [New York City’s affluent] Upper West Side and went to Ivy League schools.”

8 things I wish I’d known when I worked on Capitol Hill
‘My home life was a toxic mix of reheated pizza and C-SPAN,’ one former staffer admits

Your days on the Hill may be long, but the years will be short, former staffers warn. Above, staffers take the stairs in the Hart Senate Office Building in 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Working on Capitol Hill is the best of jobs and the worst of jobs, all rolled into one. The pay is low, the hours are long, and angry constituents aren’t wrong when they remind you that they pay your salary. But working on the Hill can also give staffers the chance, often at a young age, to build a résumé, make a positive difference in people’s lives, and literally change the world.

The intense experience can come and go in a flash, so I reached out to current and former Capitol Hill staffers to ask them what they’d tell their younger selves about the job that many remember as the hardest, most fun, and most rewarding of their professional lives.

If Trump won’t fight white supremacist terrorists, these people will
The administration has siphoned money out of programs to study domestic terrorism, leaving it up to the American people to fill in the gaps

Members of the Muslim community comfort a student near Al Noor mosque on Wednesday, days after dozens were killed in Christchurch, New Zealand. In America, people are stepping up to offer the empathy and leadership President Donald Trump won’t provide, Curtis writes. (Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

OPINION — “We Support our Muslim Brothers and Sisters.” “Love Will Win, Hate Will Lose.” “Terrorism Has No Religion.” The Charlotte, North Carolina, Muslim community invited all to join in a United for Christchurch, New Zealand, vigil in an uptown park on Sunday afternoon, and encouraged those who came to mourn and stand in solidarity to bring posters with supportive messages.

They did.

This isn’t Nancy Pelosi’s first impeachment rodeo
With their quest to impeach Trump, Democrats are only hurting themselves. The speaker understands this, even if many in her party don’t

Nancy Pelosi watched Republicans struggle to oust Bill Clinton back in the day. She’s trying to avoid a repeat, Winston writes. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Almost 21 years ago, on Sept. 9, 1998, I was in a room at the Library of Congress at a Republican House leadership meeting as they discussed the fall legislative agenda that would lead up to the congressional elections, less than two months away. The country was already divided as partisans took to their corners over the Lewinsky scandal and the possible impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Everyone was anticipating that the Starr report might be released in the next couple of days. As I stood next to a wall, I looked out over the long table where the leadership members were seated, with most of the senior leadership staff sitting along the far wall with the windows behind them. It was then that I saw two vans pull up in front of the Capitol. As 36 boxes of reports were unloaded, a Pandora’s box called impeachment opened and I remember thinking, “Everything is about to change.” And it did.

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Facebook’s awkward election sauce — too toxic for 2020?
Social media giant may be a political pariah, but it’s still essential to politicians

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, fields a question during the first Republican presidential debate hosted by Fox News and Facebook in August 2015 in Cleveland. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — When Democrats hold their presidential primary debates this year, two political heavies from 2016 may be absent from the stage — Fox News and Facebook.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez announced last Wednesday that Fox News will not get a debate during the current election cycle.

There are at least eight accountants in Congress. Maybe they can pop the debt balloon
Budgeting and running the numbers is what CPAs do

Back when the bipartisan CPA and Accountants Caucus existed, Sen. Mike Enzi was a member. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Whether it is the Green New Deal or a wall along the nation’s southern border, the 2020 presidential race is already teeming with expansive policy proposals and politicians seeking to differentiate themselves from the pack. If there is one theme that unites these proposals, it’s the expense. It’s not easy to excite voters with promises to cut programs, conserve money, or increase taxes.

All the new proposals have their key constituencies, but what about some ideas that speak to all American taxpayers? The ever-increasing national debt is an issue that everyone should care about. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are unlikely to completely solve the problem overnight, there is an easy first step that would send a clear signal to the American people.

How big and little lies, plus cash, prop up the ‘American dream’
It takes some major gaslighting to turn the long-excluded into the villain

Charles Boyer menaces Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film “Gaslight.” If the outraged reactions to the latest college admission scandal are any indication, Americans may be ready to wake up and smell the gaslighting, Curtis writes. (Courtesy MovieStillsDB)

OPINION — In the 1944 film “Gaslight,” a greedy Charles Boyer, trying to convince his rich, naive wife Ingrid Bergman that she is insane, dims and brightens the gaslights in their home, while insisting it is a figment of her imagination. Today, the term “gaslighting” has come to mean that same psychological manipulation.

America is being “gaslighted.”

Trump’s latest self-inflicted wound: Medicare cuts
Attacking Medicare is about as popular as a national program to confiscate kittens

The president is devoted to his MAGA-hatted true believers, but his phantom budget may have cost him more than a few supporters in Rust Belt states, Shapiro writes. Above, people wave their caps at a Trump rally in Michigan in 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Donald Trump’s political problems are almost all rooted in his personality.

The nonstop lying and boasting that have led to a credibility canyon seemingly flow from the president’s fragile ego. His vicious temperament when crossed produces the torrent of below-the-belt Twitter attacks. His apparent inability to trust anyone beyond his immediate family has produced outrages like Jared Kushner’s dubious security clearance. And Trump’s own tough-guy fantasies are probably connected to his hero worship of Vladimir Putin and his avuncular affection for the murderous Kim Jong Un.

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The capitalism vs. socialism debate: Bring it on
This is where America in 2019 finds itself, arguing over a settled question

As Democratic hopefuls turn themselves into ideological pretzels, socialist standby Bernie Sanders is finally getting some company, Winston writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Capitalism vs. socialism. It sounds like a debate topic better suited to a ’60s Berkley lecture hall than a 21st-century presidential campaign taking place in a robust, capitalist economy.

But that is where America in 2019 finds itself, arguing over what seems to be a settled question for anyone with a cursory knowledge of socialism’s bleak record of lackluster economies in many countries and totalitarianism in many others. Whether it was revolutionary Cuba in the last century or Venezuela in this century, socialism can take a nation down a dangerous path to poverty and oppression, propped up by authoritarian governments that destroy freedom and opportunity.

Democrats get their very own tea party after all
Tea parties are messy, loud, awkward and definitely not ‘meh,’ as it turns out

Veteran strategists underestimated Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna S. Pressley, Murphy writes. Now Democrats are getting their very own tea party after all. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, you could already see a tea party redux setting itself up for the Democrats in the same the way the original tea party movement had swept the Republicans into power in 2011.

There was the grassroots anger fueling the insurrection. The out-of-nowhere political superstars already gaining traction. And the out-of-power party establishment in Washington looking at the energy coming into their party as their ticket to rise to the majority. But once the tea partiers got to D.C., Republicans’ visions of power didn’t go as planned.

Trump’s HIV plan is bold. But can he back it up?
If the president were serious about ending HIV, he’d stop attacking Medicare and the ACA

When President Donald Trump announced his goal of ending the HIV epidemic, there was a sense of whiplash, Crowley writes. (POOL/Doug Mills/The New York Times file photo)

OPINION — President Donald Trump surprised many in his State of the Union address when he announced a bold goal of ending the HIV epidemic over the next decade.

It is rare to see HIV at the top of the headlines these days. For the past two years, virtually all of the communities most heavily affected by HIV have been under seemingly unending attack. Whether it is the denigration of people of color, incitement against immigrants, aggressive actions against transgender people, along with other LGBTQ people, and the shaming of women and others seeking to protect access to contraception and reproductive choice, the communities bearing the heaviest burden of HIV often have experienced open hostility from this administration.

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