The Hill on The Net
Electronic Update #11


The Senate Republican Conference had what must have seemed like a pretty good idea; build an online calculator that would allow people to enter their own income and tax status and learn how much tax relief they could expect to receive under the Republican plan. The problem was that the calculator would inaccurately calculate the amount that could be expected by lower income families and mislead them into believeing they would receive credits that they would not, an ironic twist considering Senate Republicans had just spent a few days on the floor arguing that people who don't pay taxes don't deserve tax relief.

Happy to point out the error, Senate Democrats (yes, Jeff & I were both in on this one) built a site of our own that wrapped the Republican calculator in frames, provided scenarios that the Republican calculator would choke on, and pointed out the innaccuracies with its results. Word of the competing sites spread via AP, TIME.COM, and elsewhere. They were selected back-to-back as web pick of the day by AllPolitics. And within less than a week, new disclaimers, default settings, and error messages were added to the SRC calculator to fudge its misleading claims.

Pay both sites a visit, but when you do keep this beltway axiom in mind, "beaten for long enough, numbers will confess to anything."

The Senate Republican Conference Tax Reform Calculator

The Republican Calculator That Couldn't

On Tuesday of this week the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee began its highly anticipated hearings as part of an investigation into illegal and improper campaign finance activities in the 1996 elections. The committee, chaired by Senator/Actor Fred Thompson, with Senator/Astronaut John Glenn the ranking Democrat, has been the focus of a great deal of attention and provides an opportunity to watch Senators seek partisan advantage, and throw some rocks from inside their glass houses.

There are very many sites on the web with information about or related to the Governmental Affairs Committee hearings. Yahoo's entry indexes more than 150 of them, certainly making this the most closely watched Congressional event on the net to date. Here's a few good starting points.

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee

Yahoo's Index for the hearings

AllPolitics Gavel to Gavel Coverage


I knew the time would come where I'd have to report that the Speaker has a home page. In my book and for a longtime after it came out, I had to point out to folks that despite his hi-tech reputation, Speaker Gingrich couldn't back up the talk with any site of his own. Last September I let you know that Newt had finally produced a home page for his sixth district of Georgia, but nothing from him wearing his Speaker hat. Well now that's changed too, and even I have to admit it's sharp looking. The site is one of several House GOP sites that seem almost to be five or six covers to the same book with so many cross links it's hard to tell when you've left one and arrived at another. So, I can no longer criticize him for his abscence, and must invite you to check them out.

Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich

The House Republican's Home Page

For that matter, I've neglected to point out that another long absent Republican Leader has found his way onto the web. In an update last August I pointed you to an unfinished home page that could be found on the Senate server for Senate Majority Trent Lott. Well, the construction finally came to an end last April and Trent is now online.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott

"Clintonomics got you down? The JEC has the information you need". That's what the banner ad read. I found it on the Hill Links page in a section of the House Majority Whip's page called "The D Files" carries a banner ad for the Joint Economic Committee. It's the first instance I've seen of one Congressional site advertising another with the type of banner that papers the commercial side of the net. Who knows, maybe it will catch on. But I think we'll need some better copy writers. I'm no economist, but the news in the paper tells me Clintonomics is doing OK. Still... maybe that JEC page has some lucky lottery numbers on it.

The D Files Hill Links Page, with JEC ad

If you find your way out of "the D files" on the House Majority Whip's page, you may end up at The Whipping Post, the whips daily schedule of activity for the House of Representatives. You might be glad to have found your way there directly. Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill, recently reported that those who use a web search engine seeking "The Whipping Post" will find sites that offer much much more that just vote schedules. But if you're not afraid to explore, you might still find some Republicans there too :-)

The Whipping Post, House Schedule

That's all for now!



Copyright 1997 by Chris Casey

Electronic Updates #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 ,#8, #9, #10 & #12.

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