capitolBy Jennifer Crull

Every month many Americans have to review their income and figure out how to pay the bills. Most of us know that you can’t spend more than you have, but this concept has yet to be understood by many Members of the United States Congress. National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has released the 2011 Congressional Ratings. NTU President Duane Parde said, “For every single Taxpayers’ Friend who bravely sought to conquer Washington’s mound of fiscal woes, four Big Spenders worked to make the pile of problems even more difficult to climb.” Iowa is no different.

The purpose of the NTU score given to each Member of Congress is to “measure the strength of support for reducing spending and regulation and opposing higher taxes.” A Member can receive a score from 0 to 100. We as taxpayers want to see as high a score as possible, for this implies the Member is working hard to reduce the burden on the taxpayers.

How does NTU arrive at the score for each Member of Congress? For 2011, they analyzed every roll call vote and “selected all votes that could significantly affect the amounts of federal taxes, spending, debt, or regulatory impact.” NTU looked at a total of 337 House and 234 Senate roll call votes.

So how does Iowa fare? As we look at the Senate, Senator Grassley and Senator Harkin have a HUGE difference in their scores. Grassley’s average score for the last five years is 75 percent, whereas Harkin’s average over the same period is 5.4 percent. It is easy to see that Grassley and Harkin are working against each other in the Senate and Senator Grassley is friendlier to the taxpayers of Iowa.

The House is a little bit of a different story. For 2011, we see scores ranging from 76 percent to 20 percent, but as we look at the data from the past five years we see that the low scores have improved. For in 2009, we had scores ranging from 92 percent to 2 percent. Representative Steve King is friendlier to the taxpayers of Iowa in the House. Representative Tom Latham is next in line. At the bottom of the pile is Representative Dave Loebsack.

This year we are going from five House seats to four House seats due to redistricting from the U.S. Census data. All five of our current elected House Members are running in an election this year, and it is time to get involved. If you are worried about the impact of the taxes you pay and how your tax dollars are being spent, then answer the call to get your candidate elected!

Jennifer Crull is an IT Specialist with Public Interest Institute in Mount Pleasant, IA.  This article is from rom Public Interest Institute’s IOWA TRANSPARENCY NEWSLETTER is available at  Republished with permission.

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