Homeless get paid to stand in line for DC lobbyists



The homeless are taking to the halls of congress, waiting in line for public hearings -- up to 30 hours of waiting -- for valuable face time with congressional representatives and senators. Often with only 10 seats available to the public, the homeless are getting those spots, shutting all others out.

It might be good for our representatives to hear from this segment of the population, their concerns about issues from affordable housing, employment, and health care to name but a few. However, it's not the voices of the homeless population the politicians on the Hill will be hearing from, it's the lobbyists who are paying the them to sit in line and guarantee those few precious public seats.

CNN reports that some homeless praise the practice, as payment varies between $11 an hour and $35 an hour, money that can help them afford to get off the streets or at least boost their spirits by making them feel they are making a valuable contribution to our political discourse. However, there are critics of the practice who see it as lobbyists buying seats at the public hearings, and in 2007, Senator Claire McCaskill introduced legislation in an attempt to ban the practice of line-standing.

An advocate for the homeless, Maria Foscarinis finds it ironic that some of the most powerful people in the nation are using people from the vulnerable homeless population.

"They're likely to be standing in line for people who well may be opposed to universal health care that would be a benefit for poor and homeless people," Foscarinis said. "And yet they may be standing there for the purpose of access for the interests that are opposed to their own."

In this video segment, a CNN reporter speaks to a man who was homeless until he started line-standing for lobbyists in DC. The following YouTube video is from a CNN report originally aired Sat., July 18,, 2009:

Video At Source