CALHOUN CITY – Tax cuts, including a possible 4-cent gas tax r

CALHOUN CITY – Tax cuts, including a possible 4-cent gas tax repeal, would be preferable to a hike in the minimum wage, 1st District U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker said during a visit to Calhoun County Friday.

Congress is considering a proposal by President Clinton and congressional Democrats to raise the minimum wage by 90 cents to $5.15 an hour. It also is considering a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole to repeal a 4.3 cent gasoline tax enacted in 1993.

Wicker, a Republican in his first term, said he prefers tax cuts to raising the minimum wage even though a recent Associated Press poll showed 78 percent of Americans favor an increase in the minimum wage.

“I think the president was right when he said about a year or so ago that the minimum wage is not the most efficient way to raise the take-home pay of working Americans,” Wicker said. “I don’t understand why he changed his mind, except this is an election year.”

Wicker said he would prefer a tax cut to raising the minimum wage, which he said would actually cost jobs and hurt the economy.

“A tax cut for working Americans on the lower end of the wage scale would do a whole lot more to help people,” he said. “A minimum wage hike would help about 4.1 million people. I’d rather increase the take-home pay for 50 million people with a tax cut.”

Wicker was noncommittal about supporting the gasoline tax repeal but said he was in favor of cutting taxes in general.

“If I had been in Congress in 1993, I never would have voted for it,” he said of the tax hike. “I’m interested in exploring ways, in the context of a balanced budget, to repeal a lot of these taxes.”

Democrats credit the 4 cent gas tax, along with spending cuts, with cutting the federal government’s annual deficit in half. Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, however, have vowed to pass the gas tax repeal by Memorial Day.

Wicker, who is up for re-election this year, was in Calhoun County Friday to chair a town meeting on flooding problems on the Yalobusha River. His opponent in the election, Democrat Henry Boyd Jr. of Holly Springs, could not be reached for comment Friday.

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