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Institute for Local Self-Reliance

OCTOBER 14, 2004
11:14 AM

CONTACT: Institute for Local Self-Reliance
David Morris, 612-379-3815

Group Urges Media to Cover Votes by Political Party

MINNEAPOLIS - October 14 - The Presidential and Vice Presidential debates helped voters decide which candidate's style they prefer. They were less helpful in identifying policy differences. How can a busy voter get behind the 20-second soundbites, and focus-group-vetted slogans and discover the candidates' stand on key issues?

According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a non-partisan group advocating an informed citizenry, the answer is to focus on the party. Political parties matter, especially today when one party controls both the executive and legislative branches. "And despite the cynical rhetoric of Ralph Nader," says ILSR Vice President David Morris, "profound differences exist between the Republican and Democratic parties."

The best way to discover these differences is to examine party voting records. For those with access to the Internet, this is relatively easy. For those relying on the media it is impossible. T.V., radio and newspapers rarely if ever give voting breakdowns by party. When a bill passes by a wide margin the reader, unsurprisingly, assumes both parties supported it. Indeed, says ILSR researcher, Becca Vargo Daggett, "the media often uses the term 'bipartisan' to describe a bill that passes withthe support of 100 percent of one party and only 20 percent of the other."

"It would take only a few seconds for the media to insert this information," says Morris, "and it would build a more informed electorate."

To demonstrate the policy differences, ILSR has compiled party votes on 10 key issues.

1. Fuel Efficiency. 81 percent of Republicans voted to prohibit an increase in fuel efficiency standards for pickup trucks; 68 percent of Democrats voting against.

2. Estate Taxes. 98 percent of House Republicans voted in favor of eliminating the estate tax; nearly 70 percent of Democrats voted against.

3. Same-sex Marriage. 90 of Senate Republicans voted to approve a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit same-sex marriages (in the form of a vote on cloture). Over 90 percent of Democrats voted against.

4. Minimum Wage. Some 78 percent of House Republicans opposed raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 an hour; 98 percent of Democrats voted in favor.

5. Patriot Act. Some 93 percent of Democrats voted to restrict authorities' ability to force libraries and bookstores to give them customer lists; 90 percent of Republicans voted against.

6. Global Warming. About 85 percent of Republicans voted against a bill to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. About 75 percent of Democrats voted in favor.

7. Prescription Drugs. Some 60 percent of Republicans voted against allowing the import of prescription drugs; 75 percent of Democrats voted for it.

8. Assault Weapons. By a vote of 41-10 Senate Republicans voted against extending the assault weapon ban. The Democrats voted in favor of the ban, 41 to 6.

9. Unemployment Benefits. Republicans voted 179-39 against extending unemployment benefits for 13 weeks. Democrats voted 187-0 in favor.

10. Country-of-Origin Labeling. Democrats voted 37-7 to implement a country-of-origin labeling program for beef. Republicans voted 29-20 against.

For more visit ILSR's American Voice 2004 project



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