When politicians announce their candidacy for a higher office, they tacitly agree commit their political careers to public scrutiny. I have decided, therefore, to do my part and examine a segment of Tom Barrett's career as a U.S. Congressman. The idea here is to see if his voting record from 1999-2002 reflects the values of Wisconsin voters today.
To begin, Barrett was among a small minority of Representatives (only 15%) to vote against the Patriot Act in 2002. If the bill had not passed, it would have likely put our nation at a greater risk for a terrorist attack. Ironically, the argument of "increased government intrusion", posed by the 15% of Representatives that voted against increasing the investigative capacity of the FBI, are not used concerning the massive federal expansion of health care currently posed in Congress. [As an aside, the only Wisconsin representative besides Tom Barrett to vote against the Patriot Act was Madison's finest - Tammy Baldwin.]
Adding to Barrett's repertoire of national security, he found himself yet again in a small minority of Representatives (only 16%) that voted against setting up a national missile defense to protect American territories from a potential ballistic missile attack. Both bills rolled through Congress unabated and were signed into law the better interest of national security. And finally, it's worth noting that Barrett had consistently voted against annual appropriations bills that provide funds for our military. In some instances, he was among only 10% of Representatives that voted against military funding.
As mentioned on other conservative blogs, Barrett also has a distinguished record of voting for more spending and less accountability. In 1999, Barrett voted against a bill that would have required greater accountability standards for federal spending programs. Representative Tom Barrett voted against the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act, which required the Congressional Budget Office to submit to Congress an annual report estimating the total costs and benefits of federal programs, the examination of their inefficiencies, and recommendations for addressing market failures.
Barrett also has a record of voting against the interests of small businesses. He voted against providing tax breaks for small businesses and greater protections against frivolous liability lawsuits. Given the fact that small businesses are the heartbeat of the American economy, it doesn't bode well that a gubernatorial candidate has a voting record of rejecting tax breaks for small businesses when Wisconsin is among the top 10 worse business climates in the nation.
Concerning taxes, Barrett voted against repealing the death tax, against repealing the marriage penalty, against reforming bankruptcy law, and against reforming malpractice insurance. He also voted against repealing the marriage tax Not much more to say on this except each of these bills would have saved taxpayers substantial amounts of spending.
The most disturbing vote I saw was his vote against the ban on partial birth abortions. A ban on partial birth abortion essentially outlaws the method by which the abortion is performed. And since the ban is strictly on the method and not the event of an abortion itself, its legal enactment would not put the mother's life at risk, which is an important factor.
When Congress was grappling with the issue, legislators defined a partial birth abortion as follows:
"An abortion in which the person performing the abortion, deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus; and performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus."
The above description says that Republicans have drafted a bill to stop medical practitioners from intentionally delaying a vaginal delivery in order to kill the unborn baby. What the above description omits is that the procedure involves using a scissors to puncture the base of an unborn baby's head to vacuum out its brains, which then grotesquely collapses the fetal skull for easy removal and disposal. In their bill, Republicans not only stated that the act was "gruesome and inhumane", but also medically unnecessary to protect the life of the mother.
In 2002, Representative Tom Barrett voted against the Partial Birth Abortion Ban stopping the proposed legislation from becoming law. In 2003, when Barrett was no longer in Congress, the bill was finally signed into law by President George W. Bush.
During his gubernatorial campaign, Mayor Tom Barrett must answer for his Congressional voting record. Why did he take anti-national defense, anti-waste reform, and a pro-partial birth abortion positions when, according to polling data, they don't reflect the values and interests of mainstream America?