- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

In the Maryland Senate race, the differences between the two candidates couldn’t be starker. Twenty-year House veteran Rep. Ben Cardin — who has been an elected official since he was 23 — is a reliably liberal Democrat, according to ratings from Americans for Democratic Action, which gives him a lifetime liberal rating of 89 percent. In the past five years, Mr. Cardin has voted against the ADA only five times in 100 votes.

For a state in which registered Democrats outnumber Republicans almost 2-1, Mr. Cardin’s voting record might seem to be more in tune with Marylanders than that of his opponent, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. Yet a brief summary of some of Mr. Cardin’s more noteworthy votes presents a politician whose liberalism is clearly anything but mainstream.

On the issue of national security and defense, Mr. Cardin has been a lifelong dove. In 1990, he voted against the use of force in the first Gulf War. He repeated that vote in 2002, when 81 of 208 House Democrats voted for the Iraq war authorization. However, unlike other Democrats, Mr. Cardin did vote to fund the war in 2003. Also, Mr. Cardin favors withdrawal from Iraq, yet he voted against a Republican-sponsored immediate withdrawal bill last year, which was modeled off of Rep. John Murtha’s plan. He also voted against the Patriot Act in 2001 and later in 2005 voted to have all 16 provisions in the act sunset by Dec. 31, 2009.

On taxes, throughout his time in House Mr. Cardin has consistently opposed tax cuts. From 2001 to 2005, he has voted against every major Bush administration tax cut, including the 2001 income-tax reduction and the 2003 cut in the tax rate on capital gains and dividends. He has also consistently opposed eliminating the estate tax. There is little disagreement here: A vote for Mr. Cardin in November is a vote for tax increases.

There’s also little doubt whom Planned Parenthood will endorse. In 1993, Mr. Cardin voted against a federal parental notification law for minors seeking an abortion. Going back to 1997, he has voted against every attempt to ban the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion. Also, he has twice voted against legislation that would make it a crime to injure or kill an unborn baby during the commission of a violent federal crime. (The Unborn Victims of Violence Act became law in 2004.)

On education, Mr. Cardin is an unabashed opponent of school vouchers. He voted against a federal voucher program in 2001 and against the D.C. voucher program in 2003.

Looking at Mr. Cardin’s record the one thing that can be said is that he is consistent — consistently liberal. No one doubts Mr. Cardin’s experience in legislative affairs — he’s been at it his entire adult life. But one wonders if this seasoned politician has learned lessons as simple as, say, reducing taxes helps the economy. After 20 years, it appears he hasn’t.

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