All 6 Democrats on Deficit-Reduction Panel Earned 'F's From Taxpayers’ Union

By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 11, 2011 | 3:35 PM EDT

U.S. Senator Patty Murray. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

( - All six Democrats that have been assigned to the special joint congressional committee that will recommend means for cutting the nation’s anticipated spending by $1.5 trillion over the next ten years compiled voting records last year that earned them grades of “F” from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) announced today that she has assigned Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (S.C.), Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (Md.) to serve on the panel. Previously, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had named Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.) to serve on the committee.

None of these Democrats had voting records that scored even as high as 10 percent in the NTU’s annual rating of Congress for last year. Among the six, Rep. Clyburn earned the lowest score of 2 percent and Sen. Baucus earned the highest score of 9 percent. Rep. Van Hollen earned a score of 4 percent and Rep. Becerra and Senators Murray and Kerry earned scores of 6 percent.

In NTU's rating system, all members of Congress who score below 20 percent for their voting record are given a grade of “F” and named a “Big Spender.”

Members who score 90 percent or higher are given a grade of “A” and named a Taxpayers’ Friend.

Of the 3 Republicans named to the special joint committee by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), two—Senators Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Rob Portman (Ohio)—were not in Congress last year so they did not get an NTU rating for 2010.  The third McConnell appointee, Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), earned an “A” with a score of 97 percent and was named a “Taxpayers’ Friend.”

Of the 3 Republicans named to the committee by House Speaker John Boehner, one was a taxpayer friend: House Republican Conference Chair Jeb Hensarling (Texas) earned an “A” with a score of 94 percent.  The other two Boehner appointees--Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.) and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.)-- were not named “Taxpayers’s Friends.” Camp earned a score of 88 percent and a grade of “B+.” Upton earned a score of 86 percent and a grade of “B.”

The NTU, a nonpartisan organization, grades all members of Congress each year on the stands they take on “every vote that significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers.” In 2010, the group scored 165 votes in the House and 145 in the Senate.

“Unlike most organizations that publish ratings, we refuse to play the ‘rating game’ of focusing on only a handful of congressional votes on selected issues,” NTU says of its congressional scoring. “The NTU voting study is the fairest and most accurate guide available on congressional fiscal policies. It is a completely unbiased accounting of votes.”

The median NTU score among Republicans in the Senate was 96 percent and in the House 88 percent. The median NTU score among Democrats was 7 percent in both the Senate and House.

Not all congressional Democrats get “F"s from the NTU. For example, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska earned a score of 52 percent for his 2010 voting record and a grade of “C.” Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana earned a score of 43 percent and a grade of “C-.” House Agriculture Ranking Member Colin Peterson (D.-Minn.) earned a score of 41 percent and a grade of “C-” and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) earned a score of 44 percent and a grade of “C-.”

The law to lift the debt limit by as much as $2.4 trillion that President Barack Obama negotiated with congressional leaders and signed earlier this month provides that a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction be created with 6 members from each house of Congress equally split between the two parties. The committee is charged with recommending $1.5 trillion in spending cuts from what the government is already planning to spend over the next decade. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi all got to name 3 members from their respective caucuses to the committee.

Here are the National Taxpayers Union’s grade and percentage score for the voting records of the 12 members of the special joint committee who have been named so far.

                                              Grade         Percentage


Sen. Patty Murray (D.-Wash.)       F          6 percent

Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.)           F          6 percent

Sen. Max Baucus (D.-Mont.)         F          9 percent

Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.)                   A          97 percent

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)             Not rated in 2010

Sen. Rob Portman (R.-Ohio)        Not rated in 2010


Rep. Chis Van Hollen (D.-Md.)      F          4 percent

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D.-S.C.)            F          2 percent

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D.-Calif.)      F          4 percent

Rep. Dave Camp (R.-Mich.)          B+        88 percent

Rep. Fred Upton (R.-Mich.)           B          86 percent

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R.-Texas)    A          94 percent