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Congress watchers rate Scott as middle-class champion

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Congressman David Scott (D-Ga.) has been recognized by both the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) as a champion of the American middle class.

In its "Congressional Voting Record for the 110th Congress, First Session Scorecard," the AAUM recognized Scott as having a perfect voting rating, based on his stance on bills relating to college affordability, expanding educational opportunities for women and girls, hate crime prevention, and equal pay for women.

In the DMI's "TheMiddleClass.org 2007 Congressional Scorecard," Scott received an "A" rating based on his support of increased funding for health care programs, making higher education less expensive, and protecting American jobs from being outsourced to other countries.

The two organizations monitor congressional voting records and issue grades.

"He's in the elite A-plus club," said DMI Executive Director Andrea Batista Schlesinger. "We look back at the bills that we think are significant to expanding and building the middle class. He voted the right way on 10 out of 10 bills."

Schlesinger said Scott helped pass several bills, such as the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which in two years, will increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. She said Scott fought against bills the DMI considers against the interest of the middle class.

Scott voted for the Employee Free Choice Act, which, while unsuccessful, sought to make it easier for workers to join labor unions. Though vetoed by President Bush, Scott voted in favor of re-authorizing the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), also known as PeachCare in Georgia.

Scott also voted against the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act. While the bill was successful, Schlesinger said it "undermines American workers by providing companies incentives to move their businesses offshore."

"There is no question that there is a profound middle-class squeeze around the country," said Schlesinger. "That's why it is important for legislators to vote for bills that will alleviate that squeeze ... this is a congressman who is putting the needs of an aspiring middle class at the forefront."

Scott said he is "honored" by the DMI's and AAUW's recognition.

"I think the biggest issue facing the middle class right now is downward economic pressure ... I grapple with that and I understand that," said Scott. "It's those who are in the middle who have to pay full bear for health care and education. It is the middle class who are paying the bulk of their income to taxes."

Scott said he has worked hard in Washington to author and support bills which stimulate the economy and provide buoyancy to the middle class. Locally, Scott said he has helped coordinate efforts such as the annual 13th Congressional District Job Fair, which will take place this year on April 11.

In the future, Scott plans to push a bill that would create a moratorium on foreclosures. It would guarantee working people a chance to have their home loans restructured.

"It is the job and the home that define the middle class," said Scott. "My focus is on trying to keep people in their homes," and making "sure that they have jobs."

A representative from the AAUW could not be reached for comment.