Biden, Emanuel, Clinton and Top Dem Leaders in House and Senate Garner 'Big Spender' Label

By Matt Cover | April 13, 2009 | 6:12 PM EDT

( – Vice President Joe Biden, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton all qualified as "Big Spenders" in Congress in 2008, according to the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

In fact, all the members of the last Congress who now are part of the Obama administration received failing grades for "taxpayer friendliness" – with the exception of Obama himself, who didn’t cast enough votes to qualify. 

"Big Spenders" voted to raise taxes, increase regulation or raise spending at least 75 percent of the time if they were in the House, according to the NTU; or 85 percent of the time if they were in the Senate. 
On the NTU scale, a 100-percent ranking means a member of Congress is “taxpayer-friendly.” A zero percent ranking means the congressman was a top ‘Big Spender – and received an “F” for taxpayer-friendliness.

Biden, the former Democratic senator from Delaware, scored 2 percent -- one of the lowest scores in Congress in 2008.

Emanuel, a former Illinois congressman, received a score of 5 percent, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (a former senator from Colorado) scored 5 percent, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (a former New York senator) got 4 percent. 

Only Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican Illinois congressman, scored in double digits -- at 25 percent.

Democratic congressional leaders in both houses, meanwhile, all received failing grades for taxpayer friendliness last year, according to the nonpartisan taxpayers' group.  

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the majority leader of the House, received a grade of only 4 percent. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) scored 5 percent, Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) scored 6 percent. Former Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), the House’s longest serving member, scored 7 percent.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not receive a rating because she failed to cast a vote in at least 50 percent of the 182 House votes that NTU analyzed.
Other prominent Democrats receiving failing grades were House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) with 6 percent; House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) with 11 percent, and the House majority whip, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), with 4 percent.
Senate leaders scored no better than their House counterparts, with most Senate leaders scoring well below the 18 percent earned by self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) failed with a score of 11 percent. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Banking Committee chairman Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) both got 4 percent. Number two Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also got 4 percent.
Republicans, meanwhile, scored much higher than their majority counterparts, with an average score of 57 percent in the Senate and 65 percent in the House – compared with Democrats’ respective 8 percent and 11 percent.
House GOP leaders Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio), Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and Mike Pence (R-Ind.) all scored above 75 percent. 

Republicans took home the top scores in both the House and the Senate, with Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) scoring 98 percent and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) scoring 96 percent.
In addition to Biden, the lowest scoring members of Congress, from either house, were: Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) -- who all scored  2 percent.

The NTU’s report card is calculated by examining 286 total roll call votes in both the House and Senate that significantly affected federal taxation, spending, debt or regulation. This list included appropriations bills, budget resolutions, tax bills, authorization bills, and amendments to existing bills that fit NTU’s criteria.

NTU Vice President Pete Sepp said there were more “Big Spenders” in Congress last year than ever before -- with 267 members of Congress earning the title in 2008. Last year's rankings don't bode well for 2009, he said -- predicting that the current Congress would set a new record for spending.
“If anything, the current Congress is more reckless than the previous one,” Sepp told I wouldn’t be surprised if we broke 2008’s record for big spenders in 2009.”
Sepp said that the report showed the past ways of Washington did not lead to the kind of fiscal responsibility the nation sorely needs.