Two Republicans Lead ‘Taxpayers’ Friends’ List, Two Democrats at ‘Rock Bottom’

By Matt Cover | April 7, 2011 | 5:13 AM EDT

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) rebuking Democrats in the Senate over an earmark-laden omnibus spending bill. (Screenshot: C-SPAN)

( Sen. John McCain and Rep. Jeff Flake topped the “Taxpayers’ Friends” list in their respective chambers of Congress, according to a ranking from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

In fact, the Arizona Republicans both achieved record rankings for taxpayer-friendliness, NTU reported when it released its rankings on April 4.

“Throughout his tenure in Congress, Jeff Flake has demonstrated consistent and effective leadership on behalf of taxpayers, both with his own votes and in inspiring his colleagues to work harder for fiscal discipline,” NTU President Duane Parde said in statement accompanying the rankings.

“Yet, 2010 was a year for other superlatives: the highest score NTU has ever recorded in either chamber. Senator John McCain earned an incredible 99.5 percent, besting the 99 percent mark that Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) reached in 1983,” the statement noted.

On average, the “Taxpayer Score” rose in both chambers in 2010. The average score in the House rose from 38 percent to 42 percent and in the Senate, from 39 to 45 percent. The NTU attributes the improvement to Republicans who were stung by election losses in 2006 and 2008.

“The improvement in overall averages can generally be attributed to the performances of Republican lawmakers, who seemed chastened by losses dealt to them in 2008 from an electorate that was skeptical of their fiscal record.

“Between 2008 and 2010, House GOP Members boosted their average score by 21 percentage points; GOP Senators gained an even bigger 37-point jump in their average over those two years.”

Big spenders

However, the difference between the two parties is starker than ever, given what NTU labels as “Big Spenders” in both the House and Senate.

“264 Senators and Representatives captured the title of “Big Spender” for posting “F” grades (20 percent or less in the House and 18 percent or less in the Senate).  This is just three shy of the record 267 Big Spenders logged in 2009 and 2008,” NTU said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. and House Majority Whip James Clyburn of S.C. at a news conference where they announced that the House had just passed a massive overhaul of financial regulations on Wednesday, June 30, 2010. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

The lawmakers who received the worst score from NTU – the biggest of the big spenders – were Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.).

Rep. Clyburn had the absolute-lowest House score, rounding to 2 percent. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) also came in at 2 percent on a rounded basis. In the Senate, Patrick Leahy had the rock-bottom score at 2 percent, followed by Carl Levin (D-Mich.), whose rounded score was also 2 percent.

NTU’s ratings track each lawmaker’s vote on every bill that affects fiscal policy, ranking those votes on whether they were friendly to taxpayers – supported lower taxes or spending – or were unfriendly.

NTU President Parde summed up 2010 by saying that the gap between taxpayer-friendly members of Congress and their big spending counterparts grew as contentious fiscal issues came to a head.

“2010 saw some of the most polarizing fiscal issues in the history of Congress, and NTU’s Rating depicted the trend in stark detail,” he said.

“Although an increasing number of lawmakers voted with taxpayers’ interests, more than three times as many sided with special interests instead. With this lopsided tug-of-war among Members of Congress, it is no wonder the nation’s finances were dragged into a quagmire last year.”