ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Although more lawmakers joined the ranks of "Taxpayers' Friends" for their voting records in 2009, the vast legion of "Big Spenders" who opted to grow government remained overwhelmingly large, according to the National Taxpayers Union's (NTU) 31st annual Rating of Congress. The unique scorecard utilizes every roll call vote affecting fiscal policy – 333 House and 227 Senate votes taken last year.
"Despite a few encouraging trends, the results from NTU's Rating vividly demonstrate why 2009 was such a fiscal disaster," said NTU President Duane Parde. "For every Member of Congress doing his or her best to relieve overburdened taxpayers, five other lawmakers were doing their worst."
Between 2008 and 2009, the average "Taxpayer Score" in the House rose from 36 percent to 38 percent. The Senate's average increased from 32 percent to 39 percent. The Senate had an all-time low of 28 percent in 1988 (the House hit bottom that same year, at 27 percent). The highest marks were reached in 1995, when House and Senate averages were 58 percent and 57 percent, respectively.
In 2009, 55 lawmakers attained scores sufficient for a grade of "A" (earning at least a 90 percent in the House and the Senate) and hence were eligible for the "Taxpayers' Friend Award" – an increase from the 48 who earned top grades in 2008. Meanwhile, 267 Senators and Representatives captured the title of "Big Spender" for posting "F" grades (15 percent or less in the House and 16 percent or less in the Senate). This number is unchanged from the record 267 Big Spenders recorded in 2008.
For the seventh consecutive year, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was the top scorer in the House with a 99 percent rating – earning him the distinction of the greatest number of consecutive years as NTU's top scorer. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), always a top 10 finisher, captured the number one spot in his chamber for the first time. Running a close second was Jim DeMint (R-SC), whose rounded score also added up to 97 percent but was still just two-tenths of a point behind Coburn's.
On the bottom of the scale, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) turned in the lowest House score, rounded to 1 percent. However, 21 other House Members had scores that were higher by fractions, but which still amounted to 1 percent when rounded. Tom Harkin (D-IA) had the absolute worst Senate score, at 4 percent. Yet, six of his colleagues posted slightly higher scores that nonetheless rounded to 4 percent.
The 362,000-member NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: The 2009 Rating and a searchable Rating database dating back to 1992 is available at www.ntu.org.
SOURCE National Taxpayers Union