In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Lee Drutman, senior fellow at New America, examines the impact of the influence industry on Congress and posits that the flood of money “has reached a new, and probably unsustainable, level.”
Drutman points to the more than two-and-a-half billion dollars a year spent on lobbying and notes that this sum is “more than the funding for the entire Senate ($860 million) and House ($1.18 billion) combined, and the gap grows wider every year.”
Those staggering numbers have the author (and many others) calling for a new strategy “to rebalance American democracy” and marks Capitol Hill as Ground Zero for the effort to fix a system that favors deep-pocketed special interests over those of the citizenry at large.
Drutman acknowledges the fact that lobbyists bring valuable perspectives and expertise to governing decisions, so balancing their input, not limiting it, is the best course. He notes “we’re most likely to get the best policies if decision makers can hear the strongest case on all sides.”
While he may not know it, what Drutman is describing is the work that we here at Voice Of the People are doing with our Citizen Cabinet initiative. The ‘policymaking simulations’ that are used by the Citizen Cabinets in our initial states – Maryland, Oklahoma and Virginia – are exactly the type of unbiased tools for finding out precisely what the people want their representatives in Congress to do, when they have the basic facts.
The goal, according to Drutman, is to “give government the resources it needs to think for itself and develop policy without having to depend almost entirely on outside lobbyists.” Bringing the voice of the people to bear on key policy issues, using the online policymaking simulations we have developed, is exactly the kind of independent resource Congress needs to make better decisions.
You can read Lee Drutman’s op-ed here.