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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison

Posted: February 23, 2010 02:50 PM

As Health Care Debate Shifts to TV, These iPhone Apps Tap Into Deeper Details

What's Your Reaction:

There are even apps for ideology.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama hopes to hammer out a health care compromise during a bipartisan summit with congress that will be broadcast on live television. No matter what side of the debate you are on or where you stand on other hot button political issues, there are plenty of iPhone apps available to inform or reinforce your beliefs.

Understanding the issues

As is the case with radio and television, the best source on your iPhone for an unfiltered account of our government in action is C-SPAN. The free C-SPAN RADIO app offers three audio streams of public affairs programming right from the nation's capital. As the summit will be carried live on the cable network, expect this app to deliver an unbiased feed directly from The Blair House during the day's proceedings.

While most of us know where Obama stands on health care and other issues, it is not as easy to track the legislative history and campaign donor information of all the members of congress. Now you can literally hold any federally elected official in the palm of your hand with Congress+. This $4.99 app not only tracks contact and campaign staff information, but also compiles a complete record of every member's sponsored legislation and donors. The app also has contact information for Obama's candidate members.

If you are trying to understand which elected officials best represent your own points of view, downloading Political GPS is a good place to start. After testing where you stand on a multitude of issues, this $1.99 app finds legislation you oppose and enables you to contact the sponsors directly.

Just released this week, Hello Washington is a $2.99 app that provides a directory for every elected member of congress as well as tools to create online forums and even send snail mail to representatives.

Obama and mobile media

Although the president is the most popular BlackBerry owner on the planet, his administration is using the iPhone as its primary mobile messenger. Days before last month's State of the Union address, the White House released its official iPhone app of the same name. The free app distributes live video streams from White House events as well as other news and commentary that come with the Obama administration's seal of approval.

While the president's efforts to negotiate a deal with republicans are turning off many of his more liberal constituents, at least there are plenty of left-leaning iPhone apps for his frustrated supporters to take solace. From the free HuffingtonPost.com (which we all know covers a lot more than politics, and welcomes ideas from all sides of the ideological spectrum) and Rachel Maddow apps, to the bi-weekly BEST OF THE LEFT PODCAST APP (which costs $1.99 to download), there are plenty mobile media outlets embraced by the democratic wing of the democratic party.

The right strikes back

Just because the loyal opposition lacks the platform of the White House and is a minority player in both chambers of congress doesn't mean that conservative-friendly iPhone apps are taking a backseat in the conversation. Most recent is the free app for this month's 2010 CPAC Conference, which served as both a networking tool for attendees and resource for others to read news and Twitter updates from leading conservative thinkers that attended at the event.

While there are plenty of unofficial apps that track the FOX News Channel - as well as individual apps for The Wall Street Journal (free, but subscription required to read full articles) and The Drudge Report (99 cents) -- Conserva - Right Wing News at 99 cents is an efficient aggregator of multiple outlets with a right-of-center viewpoint.

The popular website RealClearPolitics -- which tracks all political news but with a conservative sensibility - does not have an iPhone app just yet. However, the site's mobile version is a good digest for readers on the iPhone and other web-enabled hand-held devices.

 

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