Saturday, November 1, 2008

Roger Wicker: Bad For Mississippi College Students


Roger Wicker Hides His Anti-Student Policy Positions from Young People

Senator does not put policy on website where students can find them

Washington, DC – The College Democrats of America are disappointed to find that Mississippi interim Senator Roger Wicker will not share his policy positions on his website – the research medium utilized by most young people. However given Senator Wicker's long history of voting against Mississippi's young people, it's not surprising that the Senator would try to conceal his record. []

Just last year, Senator Wicker stood among a small number of Congressmen in voting against the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. With the cost of attending college skyrocketing and family income levels remaining stagnant, the bill increased the amount of money available for student aid by roughly $18 billion over the next 5 years – the largest increase in student aid since the passage of the GI bill after World War II. [HR 2669, Vote 864, 9/7/07; House Committee on Education and Labor, September 2007]

Unfortunately, his vote on the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 is only emblematic of Senator Wicker's disappointing record with regard to college students.

Senator Wicker has a long record of opposition to the Pell Grant – indeed he voted against raising the Pell Grant nine times. [Vote 864, 9/7/07; House Appropriations Committee Markup, 6/13/06; Vote 301, 6/24/04; AP, 6/25/04; Washington Times, 6/25/04; House Appropriations Committee Markup, 6/9/04; House Appropriations Committee Markup, 6/25/03; Vote 415, 7/19/00; House Appropriations Committee Markup, 5/24/00; Vote 124, 5/5/98; House Appropriations Subcommittee Markup, 6/13/96]

In 2006, Senator Wicker voted against lowering the fixed interest rate from 6.8 to 3.4 percent on student loans and against allocating $84 million of grants to middle and low-income students. Indeed Wicker's extreme anti-student record has placed him on the fringe of the Mississippi delegation – he was the only member of the Mississippi delegation to oppose again lowering the student loan rate cuts from 6.8 to 3.4 percent. [H Amdt 772 to HR 609, Vote 80, 3/30/06; HR 5, Vote 32, 1/17/07]

Additionally in 1997, Wicker opposed amending the tax code to help make college more affordable. The bill he opposed aimed to provide a "$500-per-child tax credit to working families, support a HOPE Scholarship credit for the first two years of a college education, and include tax benefits for families paying tuition costs for the second two years of a college education out of wage and salary income." [HR 2014, Vote 258, 7/10/97]

In Contrast, Governor Ronnie Musgrove has spent his career fighting for Mississippi students. He chaired the Education committee during his tenure in the State Senate. Over his career he has also served on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and as Chair of the Southern Regional Education Board. In Washington, he will fight to ensure that every Mississippi student has the ability to attend college.

"Time and again Roger Wicker has voted against the youth of Mississippi," said Katie Naranjo, President of the College Democrats of America. "It's no wonder he won't put his policy positions on his website where students are looking for them. Young people want a Senator who will address the inaccessibility of college to otherwise qualified students. Despite Roger Wicker's tactics, young people know that Governor Musgrove will bring Mississippi's students the change they need."

Moreover as one of President Bush's most loyal allies in the Congress – voting with the president over 90 percent of the time – Roger Wicker has carried the economic policies of deregulation on Wall Street that led directly to the current financial crisis and made it harder for Mississippi's students to secure college loans given the frozen credit market. Just last year, Senator Wicker voted against regulating the sub-prime mortgage industry – the industry that led to the current financial collapse. [CQ House Presidential Support Scores, 109th Congress; HR 3915, Vote 1118, 11/15/2007]

In addition, while Senator Wicker has voted against students, the interests of our economy, and increasing the minimum wage he has repeatedly taken care of himself – voting to increase his own salary nine times. [HR 2, Vote 18, 1/10/2007; HR 2378, Vote 435, 9/24/97; HR 246, Vote 300, 7/15/1999; HR 560, Vote 419, 7/20/2000; HR 206, Vote 267, 7/25/2001; HR 488, Vote 322, 7/18/2002; HR 517, Vote 580, 6/27/2007]

"Mississippi needs a Senator who will put an end to the Bush-Wicker policies that have jeopardized the ability of Mississippi youth to pursue higher education – a Senator who will look out for Mississippi students rather than for himself," added Naranjo. "Mississippi students deserve a Senator who will vote to increase jobs, increase the minimum wage, and increase student aid, not a Senator who will increase his own salary. Governor Musgrove will restore much needed fiscal responsibility to Washington – as Senator, he'll never put the priorities of Wall Street before those on Mississippi Main Street."

The College Democrats of America is the official youth outreach arm of the Democratic Party.