For there has been at least one constant in Washington over the past 12 years: almost every time a serious piece of antipoverty legislation surfaces in Congress, [he] is there playing a leadership role.
In the mid-1990s, he was a floor manager for welfare reform, the most successful piece of domestic legislation of the past 10 years. He then helped found the Renewal Alliance to help charitable groups with funding and parents with flextime legislation
More recently, he has pushed through a stream of legislation to help the underprivileged.... With Dick Durbin and Joe Biden, [he] has sponsored a series of laws to fight global AIDS and offer third world debt relief. With Chuck Schumer and Harold Ford, he's pushed to offer savings accounts to children from low-income families. With John Kerry, he's proposed homeownership tax credits. With Chris Dodd, he backed legislation authorizing $860 million for autism research. With Joe Lieberman he pushed legislation to reward savings by low-income families.
In addition, he's issued a torrent of proposals, many of which have become law: efforts to fight tuberculosis; to provide assistance to orphans and vulnerable children in developing countries; to provide housing for people with AIDS; to increase funding for Social Services Block Grants and organizations like Healthy Start and the Children's Aid Society; to finance community health centers; to combat genocide in Sudan.
I could fill this column, if not this entire page, with a list of ideas, proposals and laws [he] has poured out over the past dozen years. It's hard to think of another politician who has been so active and so productive on these issues.
.... the substance of [his] work is impressive. Bono, who has worked closely with him over the years, got it right: ‘"I would suggest that [he] has a kind of Tourette's disease; he will always say the most unpopular thing. But on our issues, he has been a defender of the most vulnerable.'"
Who is this champion of the disadvantaged and downtrodden?
(And right now I'm biting my tongue. Annie, take note!)