Dave Taylor, of Taylor Chevrolet Buick Cadillac, recently wrote about how the Idaho Freedom Foundation uses the Freedom Index to rate legislators. Dave thinks scoring legislators is bad, but as a car dealer who relies on “scores” himself to assess a car buyer’s trustworthiness, Dave should know better.

Bryan D. Smith

Bryan Smith

The Freedom Index shows quickly and reliably how a legislator votes. If a legislator votes for enough bad bills, the legislator receives an overall bad score. If the legislator votes for enough good bills, the legislator receives an overall good score. If scores are really bad, voters can view a legislator as untrustworthy.

Most people have a FICO credit score that businesses use when they extend credit. Businesses use FICO credit scores to quickly and accurately judge whether a person will honor his promises. A FICO credit score helps answer the question, “Is this person trustworthy to keep his promises?”

The Freedom Index is much like a FICO credit score. Just like a FICO credit score of 450 is given to someone who doesn’t pay their bills and a score of 811 is given to someone who does, the Freedom Index gives scores in the 50s and 60s to legislators who raise taxes, increase spending, expand government and take away freedom, and gives good scores in the 80s and 90s to legislators who lower taxes, decrease spending, limit government and protect freedom.

The Freedom Index score quickly and accurately answers the question, “Is my legislator trustworthy to keep his promises after he’s elected?” This is important because many legislators campaign as conservatives but vote as liberals once they’re in Boise.

Just like creditors shouldn’t trust borrowers with a bad FICO credit score, voters shouldn’t trust legislators with a bad Freedom Index score. In response to a bad Freedom Index score, legislators and their friends complain about the Freedom Index rather than accept responsibility for their own bad choices just like some people complain that their bad FICO credit score isn’t their fault.

It’s not surprising that Dave is trying to rehabilitate his friends with bad voting records reflected in bad Freedom Index scores: Rod Furniss (63%), Doug Ricks (63%), Britteny Raybould (63%), Van Burtenshaw (53%) and Jerald Raymond (52%). And just to show the Freedom Index isn’t to blame, consider that the American Conservative Union (endorsed by Trump and Conservative Political Action Conference sponsors) gives them bad scores too: Rod Furniss (50%), Doug Ricks (65%), Britteny Raybould (46%), Van Burtenshaw (55%) and Jerald Raymond (56%).

These scores are closer to what you’d expect from Democrats, not Republicans. But rather than just recognize that his friends don’t vote as conservatives as reflected in both the Freedom Index and ACU scores, Dave attacks those doing the scoring.

But just like car dealer Dave relies on FICO credit scores to determine whether to trust a borrower, every voter like yourself can rely on the Freedom Index and ACU scores to determine whether to trust a politician.

Bryan Smith is a board member of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.