For Congressional Republicans, 2010 was the year of the Tea Party. In House and Senate races across the nation, 87 freshman Republicans won seats, many of them either claiming to speak for the Tea Party or actively courting their votes.
But did they live up to the hype? A new report from the fiscal-conservative interest group Club for Growth suggests that, while most of the freshman class voted about the same as veteran Republicans on tax and spending matters, freshman Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is pretty close to being the real deal.
The Club for Growth rates all members of Congress based on a scorecard. If, for instance, a legislator voted to cut Amtrak funding, limit the power of the National Labor Relations Board, or repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), he got a higher score. On the other hand, if he voted for a higher debt ceiling or against school vouchers in Washington, D.C., his score went down. Tim Scott received a score of 92 percent on the 2011 report card, compared to an average score of 71 percent among freshman Republicans and an average score of 69 percent among previously elected Republicans. He fared slightly worse on the report card than the three other freshman Republicans from South Carolina, Mick Mulvaney (99 percent), Jeff Duncan (97 percent), and Trey Gowdy (97 percent).
Scott's score puts him in 17th place among the freshman Republicans and 32nd place in Congress overall. Predictably, Republicans occupy the top 232 positions in the rankings, and six Democrats received a score of 0 percent.