(Alexandria, VA) – Harry Reid’s Senate failed taxpayers in 2013 as Senators registered a median score of just 17 percent on National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU’s) 35th annual Rating of Congress, the most thorough assessment of the Legislative Branch’s fiscal performance available. A whopping 45 U.S. Senators “earned” an “F” on the scorecard, which utilizes every roll call vote affecting federal taxes, spending, debt, and significant regulations. In total, this year’s scorecard included 253 House and 90 Senate votes taken during the 2013 calendar year.
Meanwhile, the story in the House was one of increasing polarization. The median “Taxpayer Score” in the House was a less egregious 64 percent and 46 Members were named “Taxpayers’ Friends”, scoring 90 percent or higher. Of those, the best performer was Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), for the second year in a row, scoring 95. Very close behind him with a rounded score of 95 percent was Justin Amash (R-MI).
Yet on the other end of the scorecard, 159 House Members -- more than 36 percent of all Representatives -- earned an “F.” Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) had the worst House score, at 9 percent.
In total, for the First Session of the 113th Congress, 58 lawmakers attained scores sufficient for an “A” grade (a minimum score of 83 percent in the House and 90 percent the Senate) and therefore won the “Taxpayers’ Friend Award.” In fact, this is the first time in NTU’s Rating history that the House attained a 50 percent or better average for three consecutive years.
Yet, a startling 204 Senators and Representatives were tagged with the title of “Big Spender” for posting “F” grades (24 percent or less in the House and 16 percent or less in the Senate). The record of 267 was reached in both 2008 and 2009.
In the Senate, the top scorer and second place finisher both tallied 96 percent with Jeff Flake (R-AZ) edging Tom Coburn (R-OK) by a fraction. The poorest scoring Senators were Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), each of whom only managed scores of 3 percent.
Although Taxpayer Scores on the NTU Rating are issued objectively, without regard to political affiliation, the results do reflect a sharp partisan divide in Congress. Averages (as opposed to medians) for Senate Democrats and Republicans were 9 percent and 81 percent respectively; in the House, the figures were 21 percent for Democrats and 75 percent for Republicans. These levels were similar to 2012, though the Senate GOP had a 9-point bounce.
NTU’s annual Rating sets the standard for fiscal scorecards by not simplistically focusing on only a handful of equally weighted “key votes”, but on every roll call vote affecting fiscal policy – appropriation, authorization, and tax bills; budget target resolutions; amendments; and certain regulatory or procedural votes that could affect overburdened taxpayers. For this reason, NTU’s Rating has received praise from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including the late Sen. William Proxmire (D-WI), creator of the “Golden Fleece Award.”
A Member of Congress’s Taxpayer Score reflects his or her commitment to reducing or controlling federal spending, taxes, debt, and significant regulations.
“With Big Spenders outnumbering Taxpayers’ Friends by nearly a four to one ratio in Congress, limited government was definitely item one on the legislative to-do list in 2013,” NTU President Pete Sepp noted. “Going forward, the Senate in particular will have to take a more positive attitude toward getting results for taxpayers in order for our country to overcome the massive debt and tax burdens still holding the economy back.”