How is Oregon's Delegation Scoring?

Chuck Sheketoff

Since 2003, the non-partisan Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI) has issued annual scorecards analyzing the impact of domestic legislation on America’s current and aspiring middle class and evaluating members of Congress based on their votes.

Recognizing that once a year isn’t often enough to hold members accountable, DMI created, a dynamic site that is updated throughout the year as members of Congress vote on legislation of significance to the current and aspiring middle class.

On and below, you will find DMI’s analyses of bills that would have a significant impact (positive or negative) on the squeezed middle class, as well as on the aspirations of low-income Americans who want to work their way into the middle class. Since DMI is also tallying legislators’ votes on the bills, they look only at legislation that has received a roll call vote in at least one chamber of Congress. Notable bills that have not yet been voted on are briefly discussed in the “Pending Legislation” section.

Here's how Oregon's delegation is currently scoring:

  • (Show?)

    Pretty interesting. For a bit of fun, enter the states of the various Presidential candidates (sorry only US Reps & Sens, no Govs) and see how they rate. I'm sure you will be shocked, absolutely SHOCKED I say, at the results. What does Thom Hartmann always say about voting against your own best interest....? Ah well, back to my leftover Tofurkey. Mmmmmm....

  • AdmiralNaismith (unverified)

    Not bad as a group. Even the Repugnicans are only half bad.

    I'm surprised. I wasn't sure Walden would even be a positive number.

    YAY for The Faz and his perfect score! I'm proud to have him represent me!

  • Israel Bayer (unverified)

    This is how describes the middle class.

    What Is The Middle Class?

    The middle class is more than an income bracket. Over the past fifty years, a middle-class standard of living in the United States has come to mean having a secure job, the opportunity to own a home, access to health care, retirement security, time off for vacation, illness and the birth or adoption of a child, opportunities to save for the future and the ability to provide a good education, including a college education, for one’s children. When these middle-class fundamentals are within the reach of most Americans, the nation is stronger economically, culturally and democratically.

    Most Americans identify themselves as middle class. Yet DMI is concerned not only with those who currently enjoy a middle-class standard of living, but also with expanding the middle class by increasing the ability and opportunities of poor people to enter the middle class. The middle class is strengthened when more poor people are able to work their way into its ranks. In a nation that is increasingly polarized between the very wealthy and everyone else, DMI sees the poor and middle class as sharing many of the same interests. Simply put: what strengthens and expands the middle class is good for America.

    I especially like the part that says, "The middle class is strengthened when more poor people are able to work their way into its ranks."

    Oh, if poor people could only work harder. If this is how we are defining the middle class being better for America than the poor in the U.S and most of the rest of the world are fucked!

  • BHamm (unverified)

    I'd like to see the aristocracy get eaten by the poor so the middle class can move on up. Then the poor can move up. Then, uh, the, uh, domesticated housepets can move into the ranks of poor folks?

  • 18yearoldwithanopinion (unverified)

    I like the ratings and agree with them but highly doubt this group is truly non partisan there seems to be a pattern of reds getting 40% or below and democrats 90% and above, granted I only look at about 40 people out of a few hundred. On another note since does Dennis Kucinich oppose the SCHIP bill, the website says he voted against it, it would seem he would be a major supporter of it. If anyone knows could you inform me as to why he voted no on the bill.

  • JAC (unverified)

    Lets be honest, this is NOT a non-partisan group. That said, poor and middle class workers will be well served if they read the book “Job Shift – How to Prosper in a Workplace without Jobs” by William Bridges. When I read this book over ten years ago while working as a high tech worker I realized my philosophy degree wouldn’t cut it at work. To move ahead I needed to re-educate myself to have marketable skills in the workplace. So I went back to night school (at age 35 on student loans), got my MBA and many professional certifications, and moved from $15.00 per hour to over $50.00 per hour. I can now afford a decent home, healthcare, and education for my family. I’m optimistic about my professional future too. It didn’t happen overnight, it has become a progressive life project. If you want to get ahead financially, make a plan, work hard, work smart to get an education and skills that pay, and be willing to change your outlook on work and life. If you’re able to make a change but not willing to, then don’t complain about your current state or the successes of other people's hard work.

  • LT (unverified)

    JAC, "If you want to get ahead financially, make a plan, work hard, work smart to get an education and skills that pay, and be willing to change your outlook on work and life."

    What you are saying is that people who make a plan, work hard, work smart, get educated, have a good outlook will never be subject to layoff. That is not reality.

    This is especially true for people over 50 who have worked hard all their lives, played by all the rules, and in some cases one day the whole unit was laid off due to a merger, or given early retirement from the company they worked for since college.

    It would be nice to believe your statement, but for too many of us it is not reality. And reading a book will not protect people from such layoffs. I speak as someone who went back to school in midlife but due to changes in the employment situation unforseen when I went back to school, there are now more people qualified for such positions than there are jobs.

    Nor will it protect them from employers who don't like to hire older workers (yes, age discrimination does exist) or who have more qualified applicants than they have jobs for.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    As near as I can tell, DMI is a non-partisan group. The fact that Repubicans vote against middle-class interests says more about the Republican party than it does the interest group.

    There seems to be an idea among thoughtful people that to be fair, a group needs to criticize Democrats and Republicans equally. That's silly. Criticism should depend on the facts, not the party. It's like complaining about a judge because plaintiffs win more often than defendants in his trials. We don't want the judge to aim for a balanced quota; we want him to aim for justice.

    I know Republicans would like us to believe that any one who criticizes any Republican has a partisan axe to grind. That's basic defensive psychlogy. But, given how badly the Republican party is floundering -- especially in Oregon -- they should be more willing to accept criticism. Republicans would do better in the short term and America would do better in the long term if the Republican party moved back toward the middle.

  • JAC (unverified)

    FYI... I'm now over 50, been laid off 4 times in 8 years, and landed better paying work every time. As William Bridges points out, over the years learned to adjust ones skill levels (and get certifications that are in demand) for the job market that pays best, and not count on old skills to get by. Granted, not everyone is sharp enough to figure it out, but there are opportunities for those willing to just try. Go online at PCC and get an Oracle Certification for example (very high demand and 70k per yr). Shoot, I've helped friends who where laid off from construction get their commercial drivers license and now make about 50k per yr.

  • (Show?)

    "highly doubt this group is truly non partisan there seems to be a pattern of reds getting 40% or below and democrats 90% and above,"

    Maybe that's simply because Republicans by and large don't give a flying fuck about the middle class, except to make them afraid?

  • (Show?)

    To see the roll call vote where Kucinich voted "no", go to

    Here's his explanation:

    He later voted to override the President's veto - see his explanation here:

  • Elana from DMI (unverified)

    Thanks for the write-up Blue Oregon! To respond to Israel Bayer's comment-- that line you quote about helping the poor join the middle class does NOT say in anyway "oh if only the poor would work harder they'd have more money". Our scorecards include bills like the minimum wage increase because we know that the poor do work and work hard and that hard work isn't enough any more for a person to move out of poverty. We know there are policy changes that must take place in order to help the poor join the middle class- - things like making it easier to join a union, having fair trade, guaranteeing health care for all.

    I have no idea where you got the idea, Israel that we are devaluing the poor. What we are actually saying is that policy needs to help the poor become middle class. I'm sure that the poor would agree that they'd like to make better wages and have a better standard of living.

  • Israel Bayer (unverified)


    How could any us argue against higher wages, unions and health care? But in my humble opinion, none of that has to do with joining the middle class, it's got to do with human rights - which I'm sure you agree.

    I don't think the website is bad per say, I just think it reeks of propaganda that somehow says that the Dems or Republicans and policy will somehow lift us out of the local and global crisis many poor people face.

  • (Show?)

    Middle class rhetoric is a major obstacle to progress.

    Folks like JAC whose $50/hour (=$2000/wk full time = $100K annual gross) puts him above 90th percentile sees that as "comfortable" & I think that means middle class. I won't argue with him about what it takes to be comfortable, but if it's $80K or more a year, the real middle of the income distribution (25th to 75th percentiles) ranges from significantly uncomfortable to unevenly comfortable, in terms of material security.

    But 90th percentile isn't middle class, unless both an A and a B- (for grade inflation) are middling grades at school. Culturally JAC isn't wrong, especially among income peers who also see themselves as middle class, and given the extreme steepness of the curve at the upper 1% or 2% or 3% one can even see why.

    By the same token, people at lower ends of the distribution also want to see themselves as middle class, out of aspriration, values identification (tho' the values aren't really enough to get rewarded and lots without them do get rewarded), and to avoid the stigma of the labels of poor, lower-income etc. -- even while reinforcing them. This creates identifications in support of policies that benefit the upper-middle classes at the expense of lower-middle class and poorer working people -- like credit, bankruptcy and mortgage policies.

    Likewise, the advice just to get the right skills is part of what's wrong -- it's like Garrison Keillor's joke about all the children being above average (also a problem in evaluating schools by percentiles rather than concrete achievement standards). It's not just that not everyone can be an Oracle fundi or that when there's a mass lurch to a field it can collapse (I think of a friend's father who was an engineer on Route 128 around Boston in the first Vietnam-era high-tech period, who ended up unemployed for years in the late '60s early '70s engineering glut -- yes there was one).

    It's that the system is set up so that if unemployment gets "too low" (under 5% aggregate) it threatens the prosperity of those at the top, and we have active policies to throw folks out of work. It just isn't true that everyone could work if they wanted to, much less that they could work as much as they'd like or at what they're good at. National policy is against really full employment.

    <h2>(And don't give me any guff about that 5% all being in transition -- real full employment in that sense is about 2-3% unemployment in places that experience it, the aggregate national figures smooth out and hide the fact that when the places where industries are get to that 2-3% level, lots of other places, whether in central olders cities or southern rural to middle-sized town Oregon, have unemployment well above 5%).</h2>

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