Taxes & Spending

Current Congress Unfriendly to Taxpayers

The Democratic-controlled House and Senate are not at all friendly toward taxpayers’ interests, a recently released scorecard of the 110th Congress shows. The Rating of Congress by the National Taxpayers Union, which rates Congress members from 100% (most friendly to taxpayers) to 1% (least friendly to taxpayers), has an alarming number of single-digit scores for the first session – over 200, which is double the usual number.

Under the new Democratic majority in 2007, the NTU press release said, Congress’ scores plunged in comparison with smaller declines in “pro-taxpayers scores” just prior to when the current majority took control.

The Scores

The NTU gives congressmen scores based on “every vote that significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers,” according to their Special Supplement to the rating report.

The all-time low score – 1% – was given to Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL). The lowest-scoring senator was Daniel Akaka (D-HI) with 3%.

Perhaps most importantly, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were among the biggest spenders in Congress, scoring 3% and 5%, respectively.

But a few heroes stood out in the scorecard. Jeff Flake earned the highest score for the fifth year in a row, nearing Rep. Ron Paul’s record of six consecutive years as the high scorer. Rep. Flake’s score this year was a 96%. Sen. Jim DeMint, who scored a 93% for 2007, had the highest Senate rating for the second year in a row.

John McCain was not scored for 2007 “because he voted on less than half of the weighted total of votes cast.” His last score was an 88%. He has consistently scored A’s and B’s in the NTU ratings since 1992, ranging from 60% to 88%, according to the group’s database online.

The Votes

Since the NTU includes all issues that come before Congressmen during the year that affect the burden on taxpayers, there is a long list of over 400 varied votes congressmen were graded on. One example was a vote on the “Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act.” High-scorer Rep. Flake voted nay, and low-scorer Rep. Hastings voted yea. So did plenty of other representatives, and the bill became law with a House vote of 235-181. (The NTU thought this vote would have a particularly bad affect on taxpayers’ pockets, and weighed it accordingly — far above the “average” vote, which can cost taxpayers around $1 billion.)

The Overall Attitude of Congress Toward Taxpayers

“Despite campaign-trail promises from many Members of Congress to put Washington on a stricter diet, our 2007 Rating shows that, by and large, the only things shrinking on Capitol Hill are lawmakers’ pro-taxpayer scores,” said Duane Parde, the president of NTU.

As an illustration of these shrinking scores, the average in the House of Representatives fell from 39% to 35% between 2006 and 2007, while the average score in the Senate fell from 48% to 37% in the same time. Take into consideration the fact that the all-time low averages are 27% for the House and 28% in the Senate (in 1988), while the highest averages ever were in the high 50’s.

“Based on the latest NTU Rating results, the 110th Congress as a whole seems intent on moving the cause of taxpayers back 20 years, to a point when lawmakers voted barely one-fourth of the time to reduce or control the size of government,” Parde said. “The burden of taxes and deficit spending is too heavy on our economy and our families, a plight that Washington should stop making worse with careless fiscal policy.”

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