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Kennedy Invokes Brother's Words In Minimum Wage Fight

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It had been a long week in the Senate and it took Ted Kennedy (D-MA) finally blowing a gasket on Thursday and torching Republicans for their standard Simon Legree act in blocking a minimum wage increase for the tension to become apparent to the entire nation. But it's important to note that, as the Senate leader on this issue -- and its chief proponent for years -- Kennedy had a lot of time in front of the microphone and most of it was spent trying to diplomatically cajole his GOP colleagues into doing the right thing. On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Senator remembered the words of his brother, President John F. Kennedy who, at a pivotal time in U.S. history, tried to lead Americans with a philosophy that is all but forgotten by the Republican party under George W. Bush. Here's Ted Kennedy invoking his brother's memory in appealing to Republicans:
President Kennedy once said: "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." We are a rich nation, but unless we do more to help the poorest Americans, we will not be able to save ourselves. We have an opportunity today to take one bold step toward solving the problem of poverty in this great Nation. Today -- right now -- we can pass the House bill and send it to the President. We can raise the minimum wage and give 13 million hard-working people hope for a brighter future.
But, as many expected, Kennedy got just the opposite result as the rest of the week unfolded with Republicans proposing over 100 amendments designed to stall a vote on the wage hike and secure more giveaways for business. Indeed, in a move that shocked even the most cynical among us, Republican Wayne Allard even proposed a bill to eliminate the Federal Minimum Wage entirely. So the issue goes back to the Senate floor on Monday, when the measure to raise the minimum wage from the $5.15 per hour it has been for a decade to $7.25 -- which the vast majority of Americans support -- will once again hit the Republican wall. "This should not be a partisan issue," said Kennedy, still holding out hope on Wednesday. "It is about standing behind our values. It is long past time to do the right thing and give minimum wage workers a raise." You can read more from Bob at
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Bob Geiger is a writer, activist and Democratic operative in Westchester County, NY.
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