Senator Wyden doesn’t need your donation

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Senator Ron Wyden wants me to know he cares about “real people”. And, by the way, he wants my money, too.

Wyden, who already had $3,398,289 in his campaign account as of the end of 2016, just sent out one more of his voluminous e-mails highlighting how he’s fighting for truth, justice and the American way. He’s also pleading for donors to step up and help him with a $7, $24, $36 or $125 contribution.

This from a Senator who raised $12,628,463 during his previous term, almost all of it from big business and affluent individual contributors and just 5 percent ($664,664) from the little people, according to OpenSecrets.org.

This from a Senator who already has $3,398,289 in cash sitting in his campaign account and may not even run again. After all, Wyden’s already been a member of Congress for 36 years and is going to turn 68 years old on May 3. He’ll be 73 during his next campaign if he runs again. That would make him almost 80 at the end of that term.

Yes, I know, there are 14 senators who are 74 or older, with the oldest, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), both 83. And the Senate is a place where politicians with high self-regard and legions of sycophantic staff can come to love living in a special bubble and can see themselves as irreplaceable.

But, is Wyden, who is wealthy and has three young children with his wife Nancy, whom he married in 2005, going to want to do his 24 X 7 Senate job until he’s almost 80?

My bet is Senator Wyden doesn’t need your minuscule individual contribution. Give your money to a non-profit that’s doing great work, instead. The world will be better for it.

 

 

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Memo to Oregon’s Congressional Delegation: Pay Your Interns

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Every summer, it’s a deluge. Thousands of eager students descend on Washington, D.C. to intern in Congress. It’s the perfect opportunity to see first-hand how the legislative process works, a good way to get a foot in the door in politics and often gives ambitious young people a leg up in their careers.

Some of those ambitious young people end up working for members of Oregon’s congressional delegation, all of whom talk incessantly about the need to prepare students for the future, support equality of opportunity and encourage the creation of good jobs.

So what are they paying their interns?

Zero. Zip. Not one thin dime. Not one red cent.

Money Magazine estimates it will cost an intern a minimum of $5300 to spend a summer interning away from home when you factor in air travel, rent, transportation, clothes and food.

This means a good number of young people simply can’t afford to intern in Congress.

One result? Low-income Oregonians having to choose between a career enhancing internship for an Oregon member of Congress and a summer job with a house painting company may have little choice if they need to make money.

That means students from well-off families can afford to take a career-building unpaid internship, but not the kid from an average family struggling to deal with potentially crippling college loan debt. That perpetuates inequality.

The situation has become so acute that some former Congressional interns have even formed an organization, Pay Our Interns, to advocate for paid internships. “A student’s socioeconomic status should not be a barrier to getting real-world work experience,” the group says.

Here’s a chance for Greg Walden, the lone Republican in Oregon’s congressional delegation, to get things rolling and show some leadership by instituting a paid internship program.

So do the right thing, folks. Pay your interns. You’ll all be the better for it.