Thursday, February 14, 2008

All Sizzle, No Steak?

Both Senators McCain and Clinton have made statements in recent days implying that the main appeal for Senator Obama stems from his rhetorical flourishes, and that he lacks the substance to make real change.

To put this claim to the test, I decided to examine the legislative records of all three Senators.  Using the Congressional Records database available from the Library of Congress, I compared the bills and amendments introduced by each Senator since all 3 have been in the Senate together, starting in January of 2005.   I've placed the short descriptions of the items each Senator introduced and passed in this Google spreadsheet.

I realize that this does not provide the whole story.  I haven't given much weight to the items the Senators introduced and didn't pass, and I haven't looked at what they cosponsored.  There are also many important Senatorial activities that do not appear on the Congressional Record.  However, I think looking at the items each Senator proposed and successfully guided through the Senate is a significant and equitable means of comparison.

Over the term, the base numbers look like:
Senator Obama:  265 items proposed, 39 items passed
Senator Clinton:  327 items proposed, 37 items passed
Senator McCain:  180 items proposed, 43 items passed

If you look at the spreadsheet, you'll see that each Senator has passed a number of bills or amendments which I would classify as "fluff", but I think they balance each other out in that respect.  Senator Clinton has made more proposals than either of her opponents, but her end results in bills/amendments passed is the same.

Senator Obama's signature items appear to be ethics reform, global-warming and veterans support.  His key achievement was his amendment requiring lobbyists to report which politicans and PACs they collect money for.  On the environment, he passed amendments providing money to study carbon sequestration and the development of Flexible Fuel Vehicle refueling stations.  He has sponsored numerous programs to help returning veterans cope with injuries and reintegrate with society. 

While arguments can be made in regards to experience, it appears to me that during the years they have all served together, Senator Obama's legislative effort has been of the same magnitude as both of his opponents.  He should have plenty of answers when they ask him "Where's the beef?"


Anonymous said...

I agree that most bills sponsored are fluff or limited in scope, and the 3 candidates are equal in this regard. Too bad, our country has many economic and other issues that should be addressed - BIG tax issues due to our regressive tax structure, tax loopholes for the rich and large very successful companies. Wish each would offer more substantive bills, if they did it together, the 3, or at least the 2 dems could be make a powerful team.
I am very interested in more analysis from you on the election, and the super delegates.

Anonymous said...

For another list, go to:

Anonymous said...

Here's a resume style list of some of his accomplishments:

Obama record

Anonymous said...

Here's the list that wasn't linked:

Obama's accomplishments