Lieberman's Record (RE: The Evil of Two Lessers

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Wed Aug 9 12:54:30 PDT 2000

On Wed, 9 Aug 2000, Max Sawicky wrote:

> 1999: On the votes that the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers
> considered to be the most important in 1999, Senator Lieberman voted their
> preferred position 33 percent of the time.
> 1999: On the votes that the United Auto Workers considered to be the most
> important in 1999, Senator Lieberman voted their preferred position 92
> percent of the time.
> That's quite a variance. I wonder if anyone could shed more
> light on it. I know UE is an ultra-progressive union, but
> since this is actual legislation and not more ambitious
> proposals, I wonder where all the differences showed up.

Well, I called up the UE Legislative director to find out what the scoop was, so he gave me the six votes they used for 1999-

NAFTA for Africa - Voted Wrong (worth two issues) Politician Pay Raise- Voted Wrong Opposed tax cuts for wealthy- Voted Right Bankruptcy - Voted Right Funding Endowment for Democracy- Voted Wrong (ie. to fund it)

So the difference between the ratings had to do with the heavier weighting by UE on the trade issue and the somewhat idiosyncratic ratings on the Congressional pay raise and the Endowment for Democracy (supported by most of the AFL-CIO since they get some of the money).

The UE Legislative director's evaluation of Lieberman looking over his whole history is that he has pretty consistently voted right on the final votes for core union and employment issues but has taken little leadership on them. The most aggregious anti-union vote he found was Lieberman's imposition of mediation against striking railway workers back in the early 90s.

And on non-direct union issues, like trade and other corporate policies, he drifts back and forth. His lifetime UE rating was around 50%.

Last year, the Communication Workers of America gave Lieberman almost as bad a rating as UE, with Lieberman voting wrong four out of seven votes. Although his cumulative CWA record was better with 43 correct votes against 11 wrong votes.

Each rating by itself is a bit arbitrary, especially on a particular year, but lifetime ratings and comparing across organizations in an issue area gives some sense of a politician - at least relative to the alternatives.

And no, Doug, Lieberman is no social democrat and I never implied he was, just that he is also not a rightwinger. Note that according to the UE - a pretty harsh critic, - Lieberman voted correctly on the bankruptcy bill, not siding with the corporate types on that one. He votes wrong on a bunch of issues, but right on some issues is better than wrong on all of them, a la Bush-Cheney.

"Not rightwinger" does not equal "social democrat" unless we have entered a completely Manichean world.

-- Nathan Newman

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