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Lloyd Bentsen's Record

By Editorial Staff
Published October 1, 1988

Newsweek has led the media in labeling Democratic senator Lloyd Bentsen a “conservative,” saying, “On most major issues, the Democratic vice presidential candidate stands with Bush rather than his running mate.” However, a closer look at Bentsen’s voting record reveals that his views are much more in line with his running mate, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

When Dukakis announced Bentsen as his running mate, in an effort to gain votes from “Reagan Democrats” and the South, he caught political observers off guard; Bentsen was supposedly a “conservative.” His conservativism stems from his support of contra funding, although he voted to authorize $75 million in U.S. aid to the Marxist Sandinista regime in 1980. But we need to look at the facts:

In 1987, Bentsen opposed amendments to bar the use of federal or District of Columbia funds to pay for abortions in the District. He also voted against a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion.

In 1987, he offered a motion to kill an amendment, which was approved, to express the sense of the Senate, “that the American taxpayer is already overburdened and that … federal tax rates should not be increased in any manner whatsoever, whether direct or indirect, and no new taxes should be created.”

He has also opposed many attempts to reduce the federal deficit by cutting spending. On March 31, 1987, the Senate considered an amendment to cut the Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) which spends around $225 million annually to encourage business and other investors to revitalize various projects. For example, $3.5 million was given to Florida to renovate hotels; $10 million was given to help develop a festival market mall in Philadelphia; and $15 million was given to clear a site for a new Chrysler Plant in Detroit. Bentsen voted against cutting funds for the program.

Bentsen is one of the few remaining senators who voted in 1978 in favor of giving away the Panama Canal. This was in spite of polls, which demonstrated at the time that 80 percent of Americans opposed this move. According to the U.S./Panama Treaty signed by President Jimmy Carter on September 7, 1977, and ratified by the Senate by one vote, the U.S. agreed to turn over the canal to Panama in 1999.

The treaty was ratified in order to guarantee good relations with Panama and Latin America. However, Panama has no claim to the canal due to U.S. funding of its construction. The canal cost U.S. taxpayers $7 billion.

The misrepresentation of Bentsen’s political philosophy and background is either ignorance or a deliberate attempt to mislead voters into believing that they are electing another conservative cut from the same cloth as George Bush. Bentsen’s actual voting record shows otherwise.


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