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Study: For Fifth Year Running, No One in Congress Had Voting Record that Would Balance Budget Hikes with Cuts
For Immediate Release June 22, 2006
(Alexandria, VA) – Congress's feverish voting habit for higher spending may have declined a fraction of a degree last year, but lawmakers have largely failed to pursue the aggressive treatments needed to cure Washington's budget deficit, according to the latest VoteTally study from the nonpartisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF). The one-of-a-kind analysis, which measures the dollar impact of all voting activity on the floor of the House and Senate, shows that the average Representative supported five cents in federal spending reductions for every dollar of increases, while the Senate's ratio was just two cents on the dollar.
"Despite a modest pullback in the average amounts of spending that lawmakers voted for in 2005, costly legislation like the highway and energy bills kept Congress from making real progress to restore some semblance of balance to the federal budget," said NTUF Director of Congressional Analysis and VoteTally project manager Jeff Dircksen.
Since 1994 NTUF's VoteTally cost accounting system has examined the entirety of Congress's spending decisions – including votes on failed bills and vetoed measures. The data therefore represents the collective as well as individual will among lawmakers to change the existing budget. Among the highlights of the report, based on 224 House and Senate votes cast in 2005:
"Former Congressman Tom DeLay, who claimed in 2005 that the GOP Congress had won an 'ongoing victory' over the bloated budget deficit, would – or at least should – be shocked at the results of this study," Dircksen concluded. "As the VoteTally data shows, Congress as a whole remains addicted to pork-barrel spending. Until there is Presidential leadership to confront this behavior, Washington will continue to wrap itself in a rhetorical shroud – one that cannot conceal the hollow 'victory' over bigger government that some lawmakers claim to have won."
NTUF is the non-partisan research arm of the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union. Note: Policy Paper 159, The 109th Congress's Spending Votes: A "Victory" in Name Only, is available at www.ntu.org.