Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rating Jim Ramstad

I got a newsletter from my Congressman, Jim Ramstad, the other day. He has a reputation as a moderate Republican, no big suprise since he represents a suburban Minnesota district. But is it deserved?

In the newsletter he highlights his stance on various issues, carefully tailored to appeal to his constituents.

Expedite the training of Iraqi troops so we can bring our troops home. Supported Patriot Act extension. Supported border security legislation.
The first is the only logical course. The second I have more disagreements with, largely in the area of civil liberty protections. The last is simply a mess that I haven't made a decision on yet.

Brags a lot about tax cuts, but curiously mentions nothing about the deficit....

Supports altering the Medicare drug program to allow importation of drugs and price negotiations with drug companies. Wants to expand health savings accounts and enact medical liability reform.
Amen to the first; the second is fine but doesn't come anywhere close to being a solution for rising medical costs; the third is code for capping damages in lawsuits, which is simply a grudge against trial lawyers, who overwhelmingly support Democrats. For a variety of reasons, an arbitrary cap is a terrible idea.

Supports requiring full federal funding for federal education mandates.

Says all the right things, but really vague on the specifics. This is an issue where talk is far, far cheaper than action.

Voted for the energy bill and against ANWR drilling.
In Minnesota, supporting ANWR is political suicide. The energy bill wasn't any great shakes. The House version provided *no* incentives for alternative forms of electricity production while providing more than $6 billion for oil and gas incentives and research.

Supports the Northstar Corridor commuter train project and the Hiawatha light-rail line, both important steps toward a serious mass-transit system.

Supports legislation limiting the power of eminent domain.
Generally a good idea as long as it isn't carried to an extreme.

Reading that list, I became curious about what he wasn't telling us about. So I looked him up on Thomas. Here's what I found.

Ramstad has sponsored 22 bills this session. Among them:

Supporting a free-trade pact with Taiwan;
A private bill to keep a Greek national, Konstantinos Ritos, from being deported;
A whole bunch of tax code and export law changes that appear designed to benefit state businesses;
Various crime-related bills;
Various bills extending health services for retirees.

Not a particularly distinguished list, but nothing really objectionable, either.

Okay, fine. So how did he vote? Let's turn to the scorecards.

ACLU: 9 percent
Public Citizen: 40 percent
League of Conservation Voters: 61 percent
Club for Growth: 50 percent, more or less

A whole slew of others are available at Project Vote Smart.

The summation: Ramstad is a right-leaning moderate, although he swims against the tide in some ways, such as his strong scores on environmental issues and poor scores from the NRA and other gun groups. Naturally I disagree with him on some specific issues, but overall he's the kind of politician I can support -- a moderate who doesn't toe his party line all the time. His legislative accomplishments are a bit lightweight for someone who has been in Congress for 16 years, but I'd rather have a less-active moderate than an overactive partisan.

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Anonymous GreenGOP said...

Certainly a thorough analysis. On the energy bill, keep in mind that while not perfect by any stretch, it is a step in the right direction, whereas the dems blocked it w/out offering any ideas of their own, like on so many issues. And voting agains ANWR, is certainly against the grain. His LCV score of 61% also beat about 30 dems, and mostof his fellow GOPers. As a Republican environmentalist, I wouldn't complain if i had a few more Ramstads.

4/17/2006 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Daniel Haszard said...

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6/02/2006 3:51 PM  

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