Of the groups that analyze legislators and their votes, the Club for Growth produces a scorecard that focuses on votes relating to economic growth.
The Club for Growth describes itself as “a national network of thousands of pro-growth Americans, from all walks of life, who believe that prosperity and opportunity come through economic freedom. We work to promote public policies that encourage a high growth economy and a swift return to America’s founding principles primarily through legislative involvement, issue advocacy, research, training and educational activity.”
Each year the Club for Growth produces a scorecard for both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate that ranks members on their votes, based on the Club’s judgment of which votes distinguish between legislators who believe in pro-growth policies and those who don’t.
The Club warns of limitations of scorecards like these, including my own Kansas Economic Freedom Index: “A study of roll call votes on the floor of the House and Senate and legislative actions is just that. It can not account for a lawmaker’s work in committee, advocacy in his party’s caucus meetings, and effectiveness as a leader in advocating pro-growth policies.”
That caveat aside, let’s look at how the Club ranked members of the Kansas House delegation, particularly Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran. These two are candidates for the Republican party nomination for the U.S. Senate. It is commonly thought that the winner of this August Republican primary election will cruise to victory in the November general election.
One of the themes in the election — promoted especially by the Tiahrt campaign — is who is the most conservative candidate. So the Club for Growth scorecard is an important measure for someone promoting conservative, pro-growth credentials.
On the Club’s scorecard for 2009, Tiahrt earned a rating of 90 percent, which ranks him 64th among members of the U.S. House according to Club for Growth’s criteria.
Moran scored 85 percent, which ranks 94th.
(A higher rating means more votes in alignment with the Club’s positions. Other Kansas House members are the second district’s Lynn Jenkins, a Republican from Topeka, who scored 87 percent, ranking 83rd, and Democrat Dennis Moore of the third district in northeast Kansas, who scored four percent with a ranking of 297th. On the Senate rankings, Sam Brownback scored 85 percent, ranking 24th among the 100 members of the Senate. Pat Roberts scored 93 percent, ranking 19th.)
Is this difference between Tiahrt and Moran significant? That question, of course, must be answered by each voter. To help voters decide, I examined the Club’s scorecard and listed the votes where the two Congressmen voted differently. This is not a comprehensive examination of their voting records that would find all votes that were different. It only looks at the votes in the Club’s scorecard that are different.
The Club for Growth’s scorecard looked at 24 votes. Following are the votes where Tiahrt and Moran voted differently. Information on the bills is from Govtrack.us.
H.R. 12: Paycheck Fairness Act
“To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.”
Moran voted in favor of the Club’s position, while Tiahrt was absent for this vote. On a scale of one to ten that the Club uses to gauge the relative importance of votes, this bill was given a weight of one, meaning that it was judged relatively unimportant, relative to others.
H.R. 2: Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009
“To amend title XXI of the Social Security Act to extend and improve the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and for other purposes.”
Tiahrt voted in favor of the Club’s position, while Moran voted against it. This bill was weighted four on the scale of one to ten of relative importance.
H.R. 3435: Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program
“Makes emergency supplemental appropriations of $2 billion for FY2009 and FY2010 to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the Department of Transportation (DOT) for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program (Cash for Clunkers Program)”
Moran voted for the Club’s position, while Tiahrt voted against it. This bill was weighted two on the one to ten scale of relative importance.
H. Res. 806: Providing for the concurrence by the House in the Senate amendment to H.R. 1035, with an amendment
“Sets forth the rule for consideration of the Senate amendment to H.R. 1035 (Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Amendments Act of 2009)”
Tiahrt voted in favor of the Club’s position, while Moran voted against it. This bill was weighted one on the scale of one to ten of relative importance. The meaning of this resolution is obscure.
H.R. 3639: Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009
“To amend the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 to establish an earlier effective date for various consumer protections, and for other purposes.”
Tiahrt voted in favor of the Club’s position, while Moran voted against it. This bill was weighted two on the scale of one to ten of relative importance.
These are the only votes that differ between the two candidates. The Club’s scorecard also takes into account other factors, such as points awarded by the National Taxpayers Union (Tiahrt earned five; Moran three), and points awarded for not sponsoring anti-trade bills (Tiahrt and Moran both earned four points)
The scorecard also includes points awarded based on the Club’s RePORK Card, which scores legislators on how they voted on legislation that the Club considers to be pork-barrel spending. Tiahrt’s score of 29 percent earned him zero points, while Moran’s score of 96 percent earned two points.
The scorecard also separately considered H.R. 1321: Healthy Americans Act, “To provide affordable, guaranteed private health coverage that will make Americans healthier and can never be taken away.” Tiahrt and Moran voted the same on this measure.
While Tiahrt scores higher overall than Moran on the Club’s scorecard, it is not a consistent trend across all votes and measures.