- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman is often portrayed as a centrist politician, but critics of his voting record say he is as liberal as the man he would replace.

Mr. Lieberman has voted with centrists on such issues as missile defense, school vouchers and welfare reform. He also has strongly criticized fund-raising tactics by the Clinton administration and sided with Republicans in calling for the entertainment industry to reduce portrayals of sex and violence.

However, Mr. Lieberman's Senate record shows he consistently votes with the left on such issues as allowing partial-birth abortion and in favor of gun-control measures and homosexual rights. He voted against the balanced-budget amendment, eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and protecting the American flag from desecration.

In making his announcement, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore said he and Mr. Lieberman had "fought for fiscal discipline and for balanced budgets" and will "put this nation on the road to completely eliminating our national debt."

But John Berthoud, president of the National Taxpayers Union, which tracks congressional tax and spend votes, says a review of Mr. Lieberman's fiscal voting record shows he is a big-spending liberal.

"Several of his stances on high-profile issues, such as capital-gains taxation and welfare reform, have led to a national image as a fiscal moderate, but the details of his record reveal he is a card-carrying tax-and-spend liberal," Mr. Berthoud said.

Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman are not that far apart on tax and spending issues, he said.

"Fiscally, the difference is not like night and day, it's more like dusk and darkness," Mr. Berthoud said. "Their track records are very clear. They are big spenders."

The taxpayer group gave Mr. Lieberman a pro-taxpayer score of only 8 percent last year as part of its annual rating of Congress.

Mr. Lieberman scored 95 percent with Americans for Democratic Action, a group that supports "liberal candidates in the 2000 congressional election," and a zero with the American Conservative Union (ACU).

"While the media and the Gore campaign are correct in characterizing Lieberman as a man of integrity, the centrist or moderate labels certainly do not apply here," said David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

"Let's be clear, Lieberman is a liberal," Mr. Keene said.

A spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog group, declined to comment on Mr. Lieberman's record. However, its annual scorecard of 21 votes show he only voted to cut government waste three times, and received a score of 14 percent.

The centrist label can be tracked to the Democratic Leadership Council, which Mr. Lieberman currently leads.

The group calls itself "progressive" and "centrist," and is the "founding organization of the New Democrat movement." The movement was inspired by President Clinton's campaign in 1992, according to the group's literature. The Democratic Leadership Council promotes what it calls "the third way," which seeks to "adapt enduring progressive values to the new challenges of the information age."

"When people use the word 'progressive,' they generally mean 'liberal,' " said Cheri Jacobus, a Republican political consultant. "Since 'liberal' became a dirty word in the last decade, they say 'progressive,' because it's such a pretty word."

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