As we go into a new Congressional session where Republicans have returned to the majority in the House of Representatives, the Republican Liberty Caucus' newly released Liberty Index ratings for 2009 provide an important reminder of the positive effect which being out of power and in the minority had on Republican legislators. With a clear anti-liberty, big-government agenda coming from the White House and the Democrat leadership, Republicans embraced their role as the "party of no" in 2009 and were more true to basic principles of limited government and individual liberty than they have been in many years. The Liberty Index reflects this environment with more high ratings on both the Personal and Economic Liberty scales than ever before, particularly in the House of Representatives.
A surprise standout in the House of Representatives rankings is Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who is the first member of Congress in the 22 year history of the Liberty Index to score a perfect 100/100 in the Economic and Personal Liberty components of the index. Flake was not alone at the top, with perennial top scorers Ron Paul (R-TX) and Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) not far behind. They both scored 100 on Personal Liberty and came up with a 96 on Economic Liberty because of problematic votes on earmarks and a technology bill. Other than that they were outstanding champions of liberty.
With Democrat spending completely out of control a lot of Republicans were given an opportunity to oppose their policies and as a result score very well on Economic Liberty. Forty-eight House members scored perfect 100s on Economic Liberty. Personal Liberty scores were less consistent, though 115 House Republicans scored in the Libetarian range on their combined scores.
Senate Republicans were somewhat less impressive than their House allies, but five did manage to score perfect 100s on the Economic Liberty scale. Because of the kinds of votes which came up in the Senate it was more difficult to score well on Personal Liberty, but 31 Senate Republicans did have combined ratings in the Libertarian category.