News & Politics

Weiner & The Rating Game


Today’s Post disputes Anthony Weiner’s claim on the tax-cutter mantle by citing the low ratings he’s received from a number of anti-tax groups. What about some of Anthony’s other ratings?

The American Conservative Union—the gold standard for the hard right—has Weiner at 8 percent lifetime, although he earned a 21 percent mark in 2003. ACU’s liberal counterpart, Americans for Democratic Action, gave the wiry congressman a 100 percent mark in 2004, as well as in 2003 and 2002—yes, that’s right, the year Weiner voted for that well-known bleeding heart project, the Iraq war. Incidentally, ADA’s lifetime ratings have Chuck Schumer at 98 and Ted Kennedy at 90.

Is Schumer really 8 percent more liberal than Teddy? Maybe there’s something a little wacky about these rating systems. Take Citizens Against Government Waste, one of the groups cited in the Post report. Weiner earned a 13 from them in 2003. Boy, you say, Anthony must love government waste—he voted for it 87 percent of the time! But wait: CAGW’s list of votes on which the grade was based includes:

  • A bill to cap damages in malpractice suits (CAGW wanted a YES vote)
  • An amendment to cut fuel consumption (CAGW wanted a MO)
  • An amendment to prohibit oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (CAGW wanted a NO vote)
  • A bill allowing importation of prescription drugs from Canada (CAGW wanted a NO)
  • A bill creating a school voucher program in the District (CAGW wanted a YES)

Those are just a few of the votes on the list, but they don’t seem to have much to do with government waste or taxes; instead, they seem to reflect a broader right-wing agenda. So perhaps Weiner’s ratings, good or bad, should be taken with a hefty grain of salt.

Of course, we should also sprinkle some of the white stuff on any politician’s promise to cut taxes. A souvenir from the 2001 campaign is a Bloomberg mailer that screams “The Last Thing NYC Needs Now Is Higher Taxes” and inside features a quote from Mark Green saying “I would never rule out a tax increase.” One might recall that Bloomberg, contrary to his campaign rhetoric, didn’t rule out a tax increase either; in fact, during the 2002 budget crisis, he asked for the largest property tax hike in city history.


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