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Retirees group gives Traficant worst rating for voting record



Published: Sat, February 16, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Two congressmen wanting to represent the Mahoning Valley received 100 percent voting ratings from the retirees' organization.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. has the distinction of having the worst voting record among Democratic congressmen on issues important to older and disabled Americans, according to a national organization of retirees.

The Alliance for Retired Americans, a labor-oriented group based in Washington, D.C., which has more than 2.5 million retirees as its members, released a survey of votes cast by members of Congress last year on 10 key issues of importance to its members, including a Medicare prescription drug benefit, a patients' bill of rights, Social Security and pensions.

On the 10 issues, Traficant, a Poland Democrat, voted against the alliance's position nine times. Traficant and U.S. Rep. Ralph M. Hall of Rockwall, Texas, were the only two Democrats with 10 percent voting records, the lowest percentage of anyone in their political party.

The only vote of support Traficant gave for an alliance-supported issue was a Medicare budget protection bill that included a Medicare prescription drug program, protection of the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund surplus, and increased aid to education. The bill was rejected in the House in April 2001 by a 207-200 vote.

Have 100 percent: In contrast, two congressmen wanting to represent the Mahoning Valley -- U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer, an Akron Democrat -- and U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Lorain Democrat who represents western Trumbull County, all had voting records of 100 percent, according to the alliance survey.

U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette, a Madison Republican whose new district will include seven northern Trumbull County townships, never voted with the alliance position on any of the 10 issues.

Others in survey: Ohio's two U.S. senators also fared poorly in the alliance survey. U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, a Republican, didn't vote at all with the alliance position on the issues and U.S. Sen. Michael DeWine, a Republican, voted only once with the organization, on a patients' bill of rights.

In Pennsylvania, U.S. Rep. Phil English, an Erie Republican who represents Mercer County, and U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, a Bradford Woods Republican who represents Lawrence County, did not vote at all with the alliance position, nor did U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican. U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican, voted with the alliance position on 30 percent of the issues.

skolnick@vindy.com




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