U.S. Congress

Political Mood Swings on Drug Industry Direct-to-Consumer Ads

The $4 billion a year spent by the drug industry on direct-to-consumer advertising promoting drugs is generating a political backlash. "There's a lot of support for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising, and the Democrats know it," said Gary Ruskin, Commercial Alert's executive director.


New transparency in Congress

If you look beyond the headlines of the recently passed ethics reform bills, a revolutionary leap forward in transparency has been made by two members of Congress. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) have each begun posting their schedules online, which we have included in their Congresspedia profiles (see here for Gillibrand and here for Tester). The idea of letting constituents know how their elected officials spend their day seems basic but, to my knowledge, has never been tried before.

Tester has thus far kept his previous schedules available in an online archive and Congresspedia has begun archiving Gillibrand's on the wiki, so don't worry if you don't catch her schedule on a particular day.

New Bills Challenge President Bush's Troop "Surge"

In a nationally televised address Wednesday night, President Bush announced a new plan to send 21,500 more American troops into Iraq to help settle the country’s increasing violence, particularly in the capital city of Baghdad. While Bush expressed confidence in his plan, most Americans did not appear to follow. A CNN poll taken after the speech found that 66% opposed this “surge” in troop levels, while only 32% supported it.

The Newly Democratic House Changes Their Rules

Last week the new Democratic House majority passed a number of rule changes aimed at the less scrupulous aspects of the previous Republican regime. The most significant is probably the "pay/go" provision that requires new spending to be offset with increases in revenue or equal reductions in spending, but also included were several new ethics measures. However, most of the ethics reforms are fairly superficial and do not deal with the revolving door or campaign contributions. For those we'll have to wait until later in the session (or potentially much, much longer). The new Democratic majority in the Senate, which is moving through the slower committee process, is expected to deliver their changes next week.

The new House rules are as follows:

Boom Times for Scandal PR

"The number one PR trend of 2007 will be dealing with the PR fallout from congressional subpoenas," predicts public relations industry blogger Alice Marshall. "Local law firms are already soliciting business. PR strategists are dropping quotes in the press hoping to attract clients. ...



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