August 8, 2008

Why Bill Sali is Really Ranked #423

Posted by Adam Graham in : Bill Sali

Bubblehead has a post up with another broadside against Congressman Sali. The issues raised are as stale as seven week old bread, and I don’t feel like rehashing them.

There are also many faulty arguments. For example, Bubblehead argues that Congressman Sali is out of touch with the district because he’s never supported a tax increase and Idaho’s 1st District frequently approves school levies. What Bubblehead leaves out of the equation is that these elections are lightly attended and are won by the targeted advertising of Teacher’s Unions and can’t be said to represent a majority of all voters, just those who learned from the Statesman an election was going on.

However, let us take a look at the vaunted “Power Rankings” Bubblehead gets excited about. He spent a whole post on why Bill Sali ranks #423 in Congressional Power and nothing he wrote about contributed to that score. Let’s take a look at how these power rankings come together and what really goes into them.

They are based on four factors as listed on the website that make up the score.

First is position, and that has to do with Congressman Sali’s tenure in Washington and the committees he’s seated on as well as positions held in the House leadership.  He sits on the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Oversight and Reform. These aren’t great assignments, but whether or not Natural Resources is important to, it’s a pretty darn important committee to Idahoans. As a new member of the minority party, House leadership positions don’t present themselves in the first term. Sorry.

The second element of this thing is called Influence. This is based on the important parts of a Congressman’s job such as “making media appearances, fundraising for colleagues, and serving in Caucus leadership.” Apparently, while the left loves to attack Brandi Swindell as a media hound, Bill Sali is unfit for office because he didn’t make enough appearances on Geraldo Rivera. His score here was only 0.12.

The third element of this score is called the Legislation Score which measures “How much power has the legislator demonstrated through the passage of legislation or shaping legislation through amendments thus far?” This seems a fair measure of success and by this measure, Sali did very well. Sali’s score of 1.50, as a Freshman of the Minority Party, was not bad. In fact, 197 Congressmen, many of them members of the Majority Party who had been in Congress for many years, ranked lower than Sali. Congressman Sali’s score is also on par with 50 members of Congress, meaning that, in doing the job of legislating, Congressman Sali ranks near or close to the majority of Congress.

The final element of the Power Ranking, though, is earmarks and that’s where Congressman Sali’s ranking really suffers. Congressman Jack Murtha (D-PA) (ranked #13 in Congressilonal Power Rankings) sought funding for his contributors’ pet projects and to maintain a wasteful National Drug Intelligence Center, a wasteful and a redundant program. Congressman Sali, in contrast, only requested some minor earmarks for reasonable projects totaling $11 million. Sali ranks 367 in Earmark Score with 0.30.

So Bill Sali’s big crime against his power ranking? He didn’t roll in the mud with Jack Murtha and hasn’t been on TV as much as Dennis Kucinich. Of that Idahoans can be proud.


  1. Comment by Cameron

    One point to highlight here would be that there’s a huge difference between local school funding support and federal earmark funding.

  2. Comment by Adam Graham

    Bills can fund schools directly. An earmark is actually inserted via a Committee that is not actually legislation that’s been approved by Congress.

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