Group - Bartlett not conservative enough

April 21, 1997


Staff Writer

A Washington County group believes Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th, considered to be a conservative congressman, is not nearly conservative enough.

An organization called TRIM - Tax Reform IMmediately - has formed to provide voting information about Bartlett, who represents Western Maryland in Congress.

TRIM, which is affiliated with the ultraconservative John Birch Society, produces report cards three times a year judging members of Congress. Selecting eight key votes from 1996, TRIM declares Bartlett voted for "high taxes and big government" five times.

John D. Clark, a Hagerstown resident who is spearheading the drive to organize a local TRIM chapter, said other surveys show Bartlett adheres to the Constitution about 61 percent of the time.


"We don't think 61 percent constitutional is really a conservative," he said. "He doesn't always take our advice. We're a little disillusioned."

Bartlett, through a spokeswoman, shrugged off the criticism: "You can't please all of the people all of the time."

His press secretary, Lisa Wright, pointed to congressional scorecards tallied by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Conservative Union and other conservative organizations that give him perfect ratings.

"If you look at that you see Congressman Bartlett's scores are pretty much 100 percent conservative," she said.

But TRIM members insist Bartlett's record does not match the rhetoric. On five votes, they contend Bartlett's votes were not only wrong, but unconstitutional. They included:

  • His vote against an amendment to cut 30 percent from the Economic Development Administration.
  • His vote against an amendment to kill the economic development portion of the Tennessee Valley Authority budget.
  • His vote for legislation mandating that health insurance be "portable" from group to group and group to individual.
  • His vote for budgets for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and the AmeriCorps program.

Founded about 15 years ago, TRIM is based in Appleton, Wisc. An effort to establish a local TRIM committee several years ago was short lived, Clark said. He said he believes the group has momentum this time, however.

The group, which has about 12 members, is affiliated with the John Birch Society, but Clark, 71, added that TRIM members do not have to belong to the society. He said he expects that number to grow rapidly.

Richard Oakley, president of the Hagerstown branch of the John Birch Society, said Bartlett is certainly better than many members of Congress and is a fine man personally.

But he said Congress for decades has ignored the constraints imposed by the Constitution.

"The purpose is to point this out, not to attack him," Oakley said.

Clark said he is confident his work on the TRIM committee will lead to more informed voting. He claimed TRIM bulletins have played a role in electing and defeating representatives in other districts.

The Herald-Mail Articles