Obama’s Calls to Action Fail to Make Big Splash

Sep 14, 2011 10:45am
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In four speeches on his jobs plan in six days, President Obama has hounded lawmakers to “pass this bill” and urged Americans to raise their voices and join him in the call to action.

“Call, email, tweet, fax, visit, Facebook, send a carrier pigeon to” Republicans in Congress, telling them to pass his plan right away, Obama has said with an impassioned plea.  The president has spread his rallying cry on Twitter and Facebook, even launching a website designed to help supporters contact their representatives.

So far, at least, the effort to leverage a flood of popular support for the plan against recalcitrant members of Congress seems to have fallen flat.

Sources on Capitol Hill tell ABC News congressional switchboards and email servers have not been inundated by any notable increases in traffic, certainly nothing close to what was encountered after Obama delivered similar pleas for action during the contentious debt-ceiling debate and health care-reform battle.

There has been “no big uptick related to the president this time,” one House Democratic aide said. “We’re definitely hearing from constituents worried about jobs etc., but that was true before the speech, too.”

“I don’t think we’ve had any sort of influx in correspondence,” a House Republican staffer said. “That said, if we see any carrier pigeons flapping around, we will be sure to let you know.”

On average, congressional phone lines receive 20,000 calls per hour each day, according to the House Administration Committee, which oversees day-to-day operations.

In July, during the debt-ceiling debate, call volume surged to more than 35,000 per hour, and during the peak of the health care-reform debate, volume exceeded 50,000 per hour, sources said.

Officials familiar with current call operations said they have “not been notified of any spikes in call volume or Web traffic.”

As for surges in online traffic, which have caused some government servers to collapse in the past, they seemed to remain stable this time.

A senior GOP aide says that congressional Republicans received just 1,000 emails Tuesday related to the American Jobs Act, compared to about 50,000 emails per day they were receiving in July related to the debt limit.

Furthermore, the aide noted that call volume is also down, with barely any wait time, and described those calls as split evenly 50/50 between support for the president’s legislation, and opposition to it.

“Today we have had a combination of both emails and phone calls. And as far as I know, the system has held up fine,” a staffer in Florida Republican Rep. Allen West’s office said. Of the calls received, 212 were in support of the jobs bill, 35 were against, she said.

Maybe supporters are mailing in their comments on Obama’s bill. Then again, the president hasn’t once called on Americans to write a letter to their members of Congress, despite the dire financial straits of the U.S. Postal Service.

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