CCAGW 2009 Congressional Ratings
Since 1989, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) has examined roll call votes to identify which members of Congress are protecting the interests of taxpayers and which are squandering their hard-earned dollars. Those members who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with taxpayers and work to cut wasteful federal spending and taxes deserve special recognition. However, those who support big-government programs and pork-barrel projects and continually ignore Americans’ fiscal concerns should be reprimanded for their less-than-stellar performances.
CCAGW’s 2009 Congressional Ratings scored 120 votes in the House and 74 votes in the Senate. By comparison, in 2008, CCAGW rated 48 votes in the House and 42 votes in the Senate. The dramatic increase in the number of votes scored in 2009 is a reflection of the intensely partisan 111th Congress, the Obama administration’s relentless pro-spending agenda, and many members’ inability to support a pro-taxpayer agenda.
CCAGW rates members on a 0 to 100 percent scale. Members are placed in the following categories: 0-19% Hostile; 20-39% Unfriendly; 40-59% Lukewarm; 60-79% Friendly; 80-99% Taxpayer Hero; 100% Taxpayer Super Hero.
House and Senate Breakdown
In the House, Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mike Pence (R-Ind.), John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) achieved “Taxpayer Super Hero” status with a grade of 100 percent. In 2008, Rep. Broun was the sole Taxpayer Super Hero and CCAGW applauds him for maintaining this perfect score two years in a row. There were 89 “Taxpayer Heroes” with a grade of 80 percent or above, 30 more than the 59 in 2008.
In 2009, unfortunately, there were an astonishing number of members, all Democrats, who took home a shameful zero percent score. In 2006, there were nine members with a zero rating; in 2007 there were only two; and in 2008 the number grew to a larger, yet still relatively small, 34. In 2009, however, a whopping 105 members, or 41 percent of the 256 House Democrats, scored a big fat zero. That list includes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin (D-Mich.). These members could not manage to support a single fiscally responsible measure out of the 120 House votes analyzed by CCAGW, including four votes to reduce discretionary spending in appropriations bills by a meager 5 percent, and a vote to cut $1 million for the Environmental Science Initiative at Drew University in Madison, N.J., which has an endowment of $171 million and charges $50,000 annually for tuition, room and board.
From 2006 through 2008, there were no “Taxpayer Super Heroes” (scoring 100 percent) in the Senate. Fortunately, Senators Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) broke the mold in 2009, taking home the Senate’s first Taxpayer Super Hero awards in four years. The next two highest scores were achieved by Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) at 99 percent. There were a total of 29 “Taxpayer Heroes,” 52 percent greater than the 14 in 2008. Although there were a record number of zero ratings in the House in 2009, there were no senators with a score of zero, compared to the 17 zeros in 2008.
Spend, Tax, and Spend Some More
The 2009 legislative year was characterized by intense partisanship, heated debates, and calculated political maneuvering. Lawmakers’ recent attempts to spend their way out of the nation’s fiscal crisis have only backfired, as the national debt has exploded past $13 trillion and the unemployment rate hovers at 9.5 percent. Despite these results, Congress forged ahead with tax-and-spend policies in 2009, ignoring the massive public outcry for fiscal restraint from teapartiers, townhallers, and grassroots activists.
Spend: The profligate tone of the 111th Congress was set when lawmakers passed the $787 billion (now $862 billion) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bill passed the House by a vote of 244-188 in January, followed by the Senate which voted 61-37 for the bill in early February. The program has doled out hundreds of millions of dollars to fund important “shovel-ready” projects (such as resurfacing tennis courts in rural Montana, building a snowmaking facility in freezing Minnesota, and researching the genetic makeup of ants), while the Obama administration has patted itself on the back for “saving or creating” jobs. The President clearly failed to keep his promise that the unemployment rate would not rise above 8 percent if the stimulus was enacted. As a result, taxpayers have felt little positive effect of this massive spending spree.
Tax: In another taxpayer defeat, the House passed its global warming bill by a narrow 219-212 vote. Among other environmental regulations, the legislation calls for the implementation of a burdensome “cap-and-tax” system. It will slap a major tax on every domestic energy producer, which, in President Obama’s own words, will cause energy prices to “necessarily skyrocket” for consumers. The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis found that by 2035, this cap-and-tax legislation would result in $9.4 trillion in GDP losses, raise an average family’s annual energy bill by $1,241, and destroy 1,145,000 jobs. Taxpayers are praying that the Senate does not follow the House’s lead.