Who's More Progressive, Hillary or Obama?
Conservatives attacking Barack Obama and his supporters wanting change believe Obama is a more progressive candidate than Hillary Clinton. Let's take a look at that, because their voting records in the Senate suggest otherwise.
Progressive Punch is a site that rates the legislative records of all Senators on progressive issues. For 2007-2008, Barack Obama is the 43rd most progressive out of 100 Senators. # 44 is Joe Lieberman. After #50, they are all Republicans, except for Tim Johnson. (Overall, his ranking is 88% or 24 out of 99, possibly suggesting he has become less progressive over time in the Senate.)
Hillary Clinton is rated far more progressive for 2007-2008, at #29. Her score is 90% to Obama's 81%. Overall, she ranks 17 out of 99, with a 91% progressive voting record, to his 24 out of 99 and an 88% progressive voting record.).
Obama's weakest score: On human rights and civil liberties he's at 75%, and #42 out of 99. One reason: in 2005, he voted "no" on a bill to cut funding for a new $36 million maximum security prison at Guantanamo.
( Roll Call 93, HR 1268, Fiscal 2005 Supplemental Appropriations/Vote to Delete Funding for the Construction of a New $36 Million Maximum Security Prison at Guantanamo) Cuba. Apr 13, 2005.
Also, he was absent for a close FISA cloture vote in April, 2007. Hillary was there and voted with the progressive Dems.
Here's another one, on judicial nominations. Remember the contentious Priscilla Owen?
P.N. 194. Judicial Nominations/Procedural Vote on a Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Nomination of Priscilla Richman Owen to be a Federal Appellate Court Judge.
Obama voted for cloture and an up or down vote on Priscilla Owen. To be fair, so did Hillary. The Dems who voted otherwise: Biden (D-DE),Boxer (D-CA), Cantwell (D-WA),Corzine (D-NJ),Dayton (D-MN), Dodd (D-CT), Dorgan (D-ND),Feingold (D-WI), Kennedy (D-MA),Kerry (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Levin (D-MI),Lincoln (D-AR),Murray (D-WA),Reed (D-RI),Sarbanes (D-MD)Stabenow (D-MI).
Another example: Class-Action lawsuits. In one of his first votes as Senator, in Feb. 2005, Obama voted against progressives on a bill to move them to federal court which is more hostile to consumers than state courts.
In opposing the legislation, Progressives were joined by civil rights, consumer and other public interest groups in arguing that it would prevent seriously injured plaintiffs from obtaining justice, as the federal courts are already overburdened with case backlogs and because those courts might be less inclined to approve large monetary awards even where they are truly deserved. About half of all Democrats joined Republicans to pass the legislation by a vote of 72 to 26; thus defeating Progressives and approving legislation that would make it more difficult for whole classes of injured consumers to go to federal court to seek redress for their grievances.
Hillary voted with progressives against the bill.
Six days after becoming a U.S. Senator, Obama voted to confirm Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State. So did Hillary. The Dems voting against her confirmation: Akaka (D-HI),Bayh (D-IN) Boxer (D-CA), Byrd (D-WV),Dayton (D-MN), Durbin (D-IL), Harkin (D-IA), Kennedy,(D-MA),Kerry (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-NJ),Levin (D-MI),Reed (D-RI)
Obama was absent on a critical vote to Invoke Cloture on an Amendment to Create a Two-Step Process for Agricultural Workers to Apply for Temporary and then Permanent Legal Residence in the U.S. Apr 19, 2005. (Hillary voted with progressives to invoke cloture.)
One of the most hotly-contested areas of debate on the 2005 Supplemental Appropriations bill involved the status of immigrant workers in the U.S. (The general purpose of the supplemental spending bill was to provide emergency funding for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan and disaster relief assistance for victims of the December 2004 tsunami.) In an effort to address the seasonal worker shortage in agricultural areas of the country, Senator Craig (R-ID) introduced an amendment which would have created a two-step process for agricultural workers to apply for temporary and then permanent legal residence in the U.S. (Senators attributed the current shortage in temporary workers to newly-imposed caps on the H-2B visa program. That program allowed businesses to hire foreign temporary seasonal workers with a mandated return to their home country when no other American workers were available.) Progressives supported Craig's proposal as a way to insure the continued availability of labor for small and seasonal businesses.
The subject of this vote was a procedural motion to invoke cloture on the Craig-Mikulski amendment, a motion which Progressives endorsed based on their support for the proposal. If successful, the cloture motion would limit debate and amendment on the underlying legislation and allow the matter to be voted upon. However, sixty votes are required to invoke cloture, an often difficult task in the divided Senate. Although fifty three senators voted to invoke cloture, the motion failed to attract the necessary sixty votes to shut off debate and the Craig-Mikulski amendment was not allowed to proceed to a final vote.
Turning to Hillary:
She gets a 100% progressive voting rating on Enfranchising the Disenfranchised and Voting Rights. Obama has no record on this.
In 2002, she voted to restore voting rights to ex-offenders.
This amendment to the election overhaul bill would have made it easier for convicted felons to vote after serving their time. At the time of the vote, 14 states banned felons from voting and several others placed numerous restrictions on the practice. Progressives saw this as a form of disenfranchisement that disproportionately impacted African-Americans and Latinos. The opponents to the amendment carried the day, with the motion falling 31-63.
Other areas Hillary scored with progressive votes: on restoring habeas, interrogation practices, preventing military contractors from participating in interrogations and requiring DOJ to hand over documents on the detainees.
Here is Hillary's voting record on Equal Access to Justice Issues. Her negatives are her vote for cloture on Priscilla Owens and her being absent from a close vote on a bankruptcy amendment offered by Charles Schumer " intended to ensure that wealthy people could not hide considerable assets in trusts to prevent those assets from being seized in the course of a bankruptcy ," and a vote on a gun control bill that would have increased penalties for criminals who use armor piercing bullets. (85 Senators voted with her.)
Interestingly, she is being attacked by Obama for her votes on trade and labor rights. Her record shows a 100% backing of progressive votes on "Aid to Workers Negatively Impacted Upon by International Trade Agreements." and on General Union Rights and on Outsourcing of American Jobs Overseas. Here's her record on Preventing Workers' Rights From Being Eroded by International Trade Agreements. Solidly progressive with the exception of one bill in 2002.
She is also ranked as the number 1 progressive among all Senators on Darfur, nuclear weapons, arms control treaties, military spending in general, intelligence oversight, general U.S. military intervention overseas, and the well-being of military personnel.
You can follow the links for further analysis, For me the message is clear. Hillary has a more progressive record than Barack Obama, and Obama hasn't been in the Senate long enough to have a position on many issues I care about. I often say, with respect to issues on which I disagree with Hillary and have to take Obama at his word despite his modified over time positions on these same issues, the devil you know is better than the devil you don't.
Here, I'll say, the progressive you know is better than the progressive without a sufficient track record.
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