Some Answers for TRIM
During my years in Congress I have always taken pride in laying out my voting record for any constituent who asks for it. I have mailed copies of my record to every news outlet in the Second Congressional District and copies are available in my office in Tucson. I plan to continue this practice.
A complete and detailed record of my nearly 800 annual votes, taken from the Congressional Record, would be acceptable to most Southern Arizonans, but the John Birch Society is distorting my record and misleading the public in its TRIM Bulletin.
TRIM seems to take a pretty simplistic approach to government. They are opposed to just about everything this country has done since World War II. If we take the advice of the TRIM Bulletin we might expect to close down the Veterans' Hospital in Tucson, not buy any new buses, not appropriate any federal money for highways like Interstate 10, do away with the University of Arizona Medical School, forget the farmers and ranchers, ignore our allies, end Social Security and more. Each of these programs involves some level of spending. Most of us, I think, agree that most of these are needed and legitimate programs.
Each federal program is voted on at least three times in the course of approving the budget: the overall budget targets are set, authorizing legislation is approved and the actual funding bills are passed. But there is only one expenditure, the money can only be spent once. Yet TRIM, in a deliberate distortion, attacks me for each one. In a recent Bulletin, I am attacked for voting for both the Department of Education organization bill and for the appropriations for the Department of Labor and HEW. But the authorization bill does not mean money will automatically be spent; that's determined by action on the appropriation bill, and while it's legitimate to oppose my stand in favor of the new Department, it's irresponsible to claim that action will mean more spending.
The TRIM Bulletin distributed last fall is typical. Of the nine listed recorded votes, I sided with House Republican Leader, John Rhodes on three occasions, with all the Arizona delegation twice, and twice I did not vote, although I would have sided with at least
|one of Arizona's Representatives
if I had. Of the nine bills, seven passed by overwhelming margins, and
one had only five votes in opposition. These are clearly measures supported
by all kinds of Congressmen, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and
liberals, Westerners and Easterners. To claim, as TRIM did, that to vote
for one of these bills (the appropriation for the Departments of Justice,
Commerce and State) is equivalent to treason is not only incorrect and
irresponsible, but it crosses the border of rational political debate.
While I don't hesitate to vote against bills if they contain more bad than
good -- as I voted against the FY1980 Foreign Aid Bill -- I don't think
it does anyone any good to distort and manipulate the facts.
During the debates on the budget resolutions and each appropriation bill, amendments are proposed. (Again, the budget resolutions set the limits of spending and the appropriations bills actually allocate the money.) It is on these amendments that the individual Congressman can exercise the most influence in reducing government expenditures by supporting amendments that decrease spending and rejecting those that add to expenditures. About 35 billion dollars was involved in these amendments for specific cuts or additions to the budget. This means that if all the amendments to decrease expenditures had passed, and all those to add to spending had failed, about $35 billion would potentially have been rejected. My own voting record on $35 billion worth of amendments would have added $5.5 billion and rejected $29 billion. With this voting record, I do not think I can be accused justly of being a big spender.
In January of 1979, I mailed a legislative questionnaire to the people of Southern Arizona. Over 66% of the respondents favored cutting spending and balancing the budget. By any measure my record indicates that I have worked toward that end.
Overall, the Congress has managed to cut the budget deficit from $66 billion in the last year of the Ford Administration to about $29 billion in FY1980. If the economy holds, the White House believes it may be possible to cut it in half in 1981. That's real progress. But you won't read about it in the TRIM Bulletin.
In this day of cynicism, mistrust and frustration, what the people of Southern Arizona do not need is confusing, simplistic, distorted attacks. Throughout my career, I think I have developed a reputation as a straight-shooter. No citizen agrees with his Congressman all the time, but if there is one part of my reputation I am proudest of, it is that of being fair and open.
In the future, if you have a question about any vote, I hope you will take the time to write or call either my Southern Arizona or Washington office. I personally guarantee a straight anwser.