Lee Drutman of the think tank New America says one reason outside of partisan gridlock is the quality and quantity of congressional staffers. He says both have fallen in this era of budget cutting. Lee Drutman joins us now in the studio.
CORNISH: All right, so even C-SPAN span junkies don't get to see the congressional staffers very often, right? They're really behind-the-scenes. So just remind us what exactly they do.
DRUTMAN: Well, they do pretty much everything. They often are the ones coming up with the policy ideas. They're the ones briefing the Senators and the members of Congress. They're writing the talking points for them. They're setting up the hearings. They're doing pretty much everything.
CORNISH: So talk about their salaries.
DRUTMAN: Well, they're pretty much getting paid peanuts, especially by Washington, D.C. standards. Washington is one of the most expensive cities to live in, and congressional staff salaries have been steadily declining. It's hard to attract and retain the top talent when you expect them to work incredibly long hours and very demanding, high-pressure work and getting paid very little for it.