Focus on the Facts: NTU Brands Md. Senators Most Spendthrift in Congress

The National Taxpayers Union, a watchdog group in Washington, D.C., has just released its annual rating of the “taxpayer friendliness” of all members of Congress. Maryland’s U.S. Senators, Democrats Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, ranked absolute bottom on the NTU scale. Between them, Sarbanes and Mikulski scored a combined average of 8 percent, out of a possible NTU rating of 100. No other state’s Senate delegation achieved lower rank. The Sarbanes/Mikulski combined score was well below the median score for Senate Democrats, 14 percent. The GOP Senate median was 63 percent. The Senate overall median score was 49 percent. (See table 1)

Individually, Sarbanes and Mikulski scored 7 and 10, respectively. This made Sarbanes the second-biggest spender in the Senate and Mikulski the sixth-biggest spender, tied with Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). The biggest spender was John Glenn (D-Ohio), who scored 6 percent; but his delegation partner, Republican Mike DeWine, scored 49 percent, pulling Ohio’s average up to 30 percent.

In the House of Representatives, Maryland’s delegation average was 35 percent, though this figure masks a disparity between the four Republicans and the four Democrats. The Democrats – Ben Cardin, Elijah Cummings, Steny Hoyer and Al Wynn – all earned an “F” from the NTU, with individual scores ranging from 27 percent (Cardin) down to 13 percent (Wynn). For the GOP, Roscoe Bartlett earned a “B+” with his score of 66 percent, Bob Ehrlich received a “B” with a score of 55 percent, Wayne Gilchrest got a “C-” for a score of 42 percent, as did Connie Morrella for a score of 40 percent.

The NTU analyzed every roll-call vote taken in 1998 that could have significantly impacted federal taxes, debt, spending or regulations – 135 Senate votes and 146 House votes. The selected votes were weighted according to their budgetary significance. Unanimous votes for increased spending were excluded from consideration.

Douglas P. Munro


National Taxpayers Union (NTU), “National Taxpayers Union Rates Congress,” NTU Dollars & Sense, Vol. 30, No. 1, January/February 1999.

Posted in: Fiscal, News Series