#2: Franking Privilege Congressional incumbents get free mail –Why? Stay in touch with constituents
#3: Casework Members of Congress can assist their constituents with their respective problems at home
#4: Pork or Special Projects Members of Congress can “mark-up” bills to add earmarks, special appropriations to benefit the sole members of their districts.
2003 Congress $107,000 to study the sex life of the Japanese quail. $1.2 million to study the breeding habits of the woodchuck. $150,000 to study the Hatfield-McCoy feud. $84,000 to find out why people fall in love. $1 million to study why people don't ride bikes to work. $19 million to examine gas emissions from cow flatulence. $144,000 to see if pigeons follow human economic laws. $219,000 to teach college students how to watch television. $2 million to construct an ancient Hawaiian canoe. $20 million for a demonstration project to build wooden bridges. $160,000 to study if you can hex an opponent by drawing an X on his chest. $800,000 for a restroom on Mt. McKinley. –Record low recorded at Fahrenheit that same year
$223,000,000! Proposed “Bridge to Nowhere” Would have connected the town of Ketchikan (pop. 8,900) to the city airport on Gravina Island (pop. 50). 10-minute ferry ride
Why the Absurdity? Not all earmarks are “bad” “Christmas Tree bills” –The tree is the bill, the ornaments the earmarks No legislator is immune –Republican or Democrat
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Fact: West Virginia is landlocked Fact: West Virginia has a coast guard station
Pro/Con Special projects are bad Local over national interest “Everyone is doing it” mentality Creates further skepticism about D.C. Bills become unrecognizable Special projects are not so bad Great if it’s your district Levels the playing field in Congress Helps legislators keep their jobs Federal projects have to go SOMEWHERE
#5. Position-taking Incumbents have a record to run on Portray themselves as hard-working individuals –Occasionally take partisan stands on issues
#7: Campaign Spending Ask yourself: who would YOU give precious funds to?
#8: Party Identification The political party will back the candidate they see as having the best chance of winning…
…most of the time.
Invincible? Defeating Incumbents –Scandal –Redistricting –Major political tidal wave Open Seats
Conclusion Who wins? Incumbents, they already hold office
Conclusion Delegate: “Vote what we say!” Trustee: “Use your best judgment!” Politico: Combination of the two
Conclusion Easier to get re-elected in the House Incumbent race for both houses= 90% Americans don’t like Congress but DO like they’re Congressperson
Term Limits Pro Incumbents become career politicians Disconnect with voters Break ties with special interests Would encourage challengers Builds a citizen Congress Con Throws the good out with the bad Takes years to become familiar with the “Washington Way” Would do away with the seniority system in Congress
Eight Reasons Why It’s Hard to Beat Incumbents 1. Name Recognition5. Position-taking 2. Franking Privilege6. Weak opponents 3. Casework7. Campaign Spending 4. Pork8. Party identification Con-Pork is BadPro-Pork is not so bad Pro-Term Limits are GoodCon- Term Limits are Bad