Ted Kennedy's real record

By AL GIORDANO  |  August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy has been a national senator: a leader for civil and equal rights, and for the economic needs of working Americans in employment, education, and health. He remains an internationally respected leader on human-rights issues. And he has repeatedly prevented the right wing from implementing much of its social agenda, even during the Reagan-Bush era (see "Kennedy and the Court," page 18).

But Kennedy has also brought home billions of dollars through construction projects, university and medical grants, defense dollars, small-business aid, and environmental and arts funding.

In the past decade alone, Kennedy has steered $5 billion to the Central Artery/Tunnel Project and $4.3 billion to the Boston Harbor cleanup. And there is more. Just a few examples:

* $500 million in small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants. In fiscal 1992, Massachusetts's share of SBIR dollars reached 17.5 percent of the national total.

* $770 million annually in National Institutes of Health grants, for projects that have created 4000 jobs.

* $200 million to local universities.

* $90 million in arts grants.

* $30 million to Massachusetts through his Ryan White AIDS Care program.

The record shows that Kennedy has delivered hundreds of additional grants for education, transportation, environmental protection, economic development, law enforcement, job training, and military and medical projects – far beyond what Massachusetts would have received without his influence.

Although Romney's advertising has attempted to portray Kennedy as

ineffective, the majority of Kennedy's critics acknowledge that they dislike him precisely because he succeeds in achieving his goals where less powerful legislators fail.

"When motivated, he can really swing into a battle," says Peter Flaherty, national director of the Conservative Campaign Fund. "His strength is his willingness to network and to build the liberal activist movement. I say that with a tinge of jealousy, because I wish more Republican senators would be so committed to our activist community."

Massachusetts's other senator, John Kerry, a Kennedy supporter, agrees.

"He's a very effective legislator who spends a great deal of time at his job," Kerry says. "He's developed a staff that is known to be extremely competent. He has relationships with other senators that help him build coalitions and compromise. He's also been at it for a long time. There are not a lot of people who can claim the network he can claim of people who've been involved in his life politically."

` As an example, Kerry cites David Burke, a former administrative assistant to Kennedy who later became president of ABC News.

"You can find a similar balance of people who have been involved with Ted's life who are networked all over the government and all over the country," Kerry says.

"They all represent powerful forces who can help effect legislation, move publican opinion, and help frame the debate; to get some important person to testify, to help focus a particular research project. It's one huge networking structure."

Economic security blanket

"This state has been blessed with getting a lot of federal dollars," says Joe Moakley, the state's senior Democratic congressman. "Without Ted Kennedy, Boston would have a different face." Among the projects Moakley points to: the $4.3 billion Boston Harbor cleanup; the federal courthouse to be build on Fan Pier; and the Big Dig, which is 85 percent federally funded. The key to the cleanup funds, according to Moakley, was Kennedy's clout with senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland).

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