WASHINGTON -- Maryland congressional Democrats may be singing the blues after a lobbying group parodied them in song Friday as Congress' biggest spenders, but even the most thrifty Republican from the state could do no better than a "B".
The National Taxpayers Union gave all six Maryland Democrats in Congress an "F" letter grade for voting against spending cuts and for tax increases in 1993.
In the report, Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski was rated the eighth biggest spender in the Senate, while Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes was 18th.
Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Frederick fared the best, with a "B" or "good" rating. The other three Maryland Republicans were given "C" grades, considered "satisfactory."
Even those grades were not high enough to make the union's "taxpayers' friend" list.
Mr. Bartlett, who represents Carroll, attacked the union for criticism of every appropriation, even though he had the best grade among the 10-member Maryland delegation.
"I am doing what I came to Congress to do, which is cut the deficit, but I'm doing it responsibly," said the Republican, who scored a 78 percent -- one percentage point shy of an A.
The National Taxpayers Union supports low taxes and spending cuts. For its annual study, the union rated 271 House votes and 206 Senate votes, all dealing with taxes and spending cuts.
Jesse Jacobs, a spokesman for Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer, criticized the study as partisan.
Mr. Hoyer, of Prince George's County, was given the lowest score of the Maryland House members, scoring a 14 percent, or F rating, on his weighted votes.
"If you look at the top 20 they're Republicans and the bottom 20 are Democrats," his spokesman said. "That in and of itself says a lot."
Ms. Mikulski, who received a 16 percent rating, said in a statement that Washington groups, such as the National Taxpayers Union, "are not familiar with our state and our needs."
She said she is trying to "put our government on a fat-cutting diet," with programs such as a federal work force reduction bill. She added that an earned income tax credit, which she supports, "will reward work and lessen the tax burden."
David Keating, executive vice president of the union, had a different view. At the news conference -- where a singer belted out "Hit the Road Jack, Don't You Come Tax No More" -- Mr. Keating said the Maryland delegation has some of the biggest spenders in Congress.
"It used to be Massachusetts, but Maryland is giving them a run for their money, or our money," he said.
The two Maryland senators, Mr. Keating said, have given "a pretty pathetic performance" in the past. "Nothing has changed this year."
Mr. Sarbanes received an 18 percent for his weighted votes.
Mr. Keating, disputing charges of partisanship, said the bills were chosen and rated by a former Democrat and Republican from Congress.
He said no Democrats made the "taxpayers' friend" list because most voted for President Clinton's Budget Reconciliation Act -- considered a tax increase by the union -- and against a $90 billion spending cut bill sponsored by Rep. Timothy Penny, a Minnesota Democrat.