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Inequality-Fighting Lawmakers Won Big in Election

Inequality-Fighting Lawmakers Won Big in Election
Wed, 11/14/2012 - by Sarah Anderson
This article originally appeared on The Institute for Policy Studies

Members of Congress who received good marks in an Institute for Policy Studies report card on inequality fared well in the election.

The report card awarded "A+" grades to 12 House members for doing the most to narrow America's economic divide over the past two years. Eleven of these won their races, including: Representatives Robert Brady (D-PA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Conyers (D-MI), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) lost his seat to a Democratic challenger.

Three of the five senators who received top marks were up for reelection and all were successful. They include Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Republicans identified as the most "99% friendly" within their party also did well. Three senators and nine House members received "C" level grades in the IPS report card for doing the most to reduce extreme inequality over the past two years. Of the seven House members on this list who ran for reelection, all were victorious. None of the three most "99% friendly" Senators was up for reelection.

The IPS report card handed out failing grades to 59 legislators who consistently favored the interests of the wealthy instead of looking out for the needs of everyone. Of the 45 who were up for reelection, two lost their bids.

One was Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY), who is highlighted in the IPS report card for being the lead sponsor of a bill to repeal a provision in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that requires corporations to disclose the ratio between what they pay their CEO and their workers. This new metric could encourage a narrowing of the staggering inequality gaps within companies. In the midst of Hayworth's two-year crusade against that provision, the SEC has failed to implement it.

The other House member who received an "F" grade and lost her seat was tea party-backed Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY).

The IPS report card also identified the 17 Democrats who have done the least to fight extreme inequality within their party and rated no better than "C" level grades. Of the eight House members on this list who were up for reelection, two lost reelection bids (Representatives Ben Chandler, D-KY, and Larry Kissell, D-NC) and one (Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-NC) appeared to be headed for a recount.

This first-annual Institute for Policy Studies report card, released in September, is based on voting records and co-sponsorships of 40 different legislative actions over the last two years. The bills considered range from legislation to establish a "Buffett Rule" minimum tax rate that all wealthy Americans must pay to a measure that would raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation.

Sarah Anderson is a co-author of the Institute for Policy Studies' first annual inequality report card, released in September.

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