Friday, January 26, 2007

Kennedy to Republicans: "What is it about working men and women that you find so offensive?"

It's a sure bet that Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has a lot of bottled-up frustration from years of fighting the Republican party to get a simple minimum wage increase for America's families and it boiled over on the floor of the Senate Thursday night.

Angry about Republican filibustering of the minimum wage increase that easily passed the House of Representatives two weeks ago, Kennedy erupted on the Senate floor, demanding of the other side of the aisle "When does the greed stop?"

After listing many of the unrelated and pricey amendments for business that the GOP has tried to join to a minimum wage hike, Kennedy blasted Republicans and demanded to know how they can be as cruel as they are to the working poor in America.
"We have now had amendments that have been worth over 200 billion dollars… Amendments that have been offered. We've had amendments on education of 35 billion dollars. We've had health-savings amendments that will benefit people with average incomes of $112,000… We've had those kinds of amendments and we're looking at the Kyl amendment at 3 billion dollars. But we still cannot get two dollars and fifteen cents -- over two years. Over two years!

"What is the price, we ask the other side? What is the price that you want from these working men and women? What cost? How much more do we have to give to the private sector and to business? How many billion dollars more, are you asking, are you requiring?

"When does the greed stop, we ask the other side? That's the question and that's the issue."
Kennedy, upset about the noises Republicans made just three weeks ago about their renewed bipartisan spirit and seeing them already blocking simple legislation that is favored by the vast majority of Americans, angrily chided them for the ridiculous number of amendments they have offered on a bill that went untouched through the House.

"Make no mistake about it -- they have on the Republican side, 70 more amendments. 70 more amendments!" said Kennedy. "We have none. We're prepared to vote now. 70 more amendments… 'Oh yes, we want an increase in the minimum wage, we want this, we want that but… let's have some other kinds of amendments that have virtually nothing to do with this.'"

But Massachusetts' Senior Senator -- who has seen his efforts to increase the minimum wage shot down in the Senate three times in the last two years -- really unloaded on his Republican colleagues for their utter contempt for working people in this country.

"240 billion dollars in tax breaks for corporations. 36 billion dollars in tax breaks for small businesses. Increase in productivity -- 42 percent over the last 10 years," yelled Kennedy emotionally. "But do you think there's any increase in the minimum wage? No. At 12 after five today, on Thursday, I speak for all of our Democrats and say we're prepared to vote now. Now!"

"Do you have such disdain for hard-working Americans that you want to pile all your amendments on this? Why don’t you just hold your amendments until other pieces of legislation? Why this volume of amendments on just the issue to try and raise the minimum wage? What is it about it that drives you Republicans crazy? What is it? Something. Something! What is the price that the workers have to pay to get an increase? What is it about working men and women that you find so offensive?"

And at this early stage of the 110th Congress, Kennedy has already had it with the hypocrisy that has always characterized the Republicans in dealing with Senate Democrats -- and he called them on it.

"We don’t want to hear any more from that side for the rest of this session about permitting or not permitting votes in here when you're denying it on the most simple concept of an increase in the minimum wage," said Kennedy. "We don’t want to hear any more about that."

"This is filibuster by delay and amendments. I've been around here long enough to know it when I see it and smell it, and that's what it looks like, that's what it is, make no mistake about it. Make no mistake about it."