Saturday, August 05, 2006

Senator Salazar: The GOP has Abandoned the Middle Class

"America Needs a New Direction and a New Congress"

Radio Address of Senator Ken Salazar

Good morning! This is Ken Salazar, United States Senator from Colorado.

In my 18 months in Washington as a United States Senator, my greatest disappointment is that the Republican-controlled Congress has abandoned the dreams and hopes of middle class Americans. In so doing, the Republican leadership has caved in to the special interests and power brokers of Washington.

Instead of helping everyone get ahead, Republican Leaders in charge of our Nation care only about the fortunes of those at the top and with winning the next election.

When I ran for the Senate in 2004, I did so to champion the causes and hopes of the common man and woman. I wanted our government to feel their hope and pain. And I wanted our government to be a champion for their cause and find solutions to their problems.

The common man and woman of America are the middle class of America. They are the backbone of America. They are people who work hard, play by the rules, and struggle to get by. People who wake up in the morning and are afraid to lose their jobs. People who are afraid that their children will not get medical care because they don't have health insurance. People who feel the pain at the pump with three dollar per gallon gas. People who worry about good schools for their kids. And people who are concerned about the safety and future of their children in an ever more violent world.

My parent's dreams were shaped through the pain, sacrifice and hope of the Depression and World War II. They never graduated from college. And at home, they did not have electricity or a telephone. My parents worried about their eight children, but they put their faith and hope in the American Dream and in the opportunity America provided to the common man.

Their faith paid off. All eight of their children became first-generation college graduates. Each of us had the opportunity to live the American dream. I believe all of us have an obligation to protect that Dream. Yet the Republican-controlled Washington has failed on that solemn obligation.

Consider what happened in the Senate this week on an issue you would think Democrats and Republicans could easily agree upon - raising the minimum wage.

It has been 10 years since the federal minimum wage was last raised. In that time, the President's pay has gone up $200,000. Congressional pay has gone up $30,000. But minimum wage workers are still stuck at $5.15 an hour, despite the many times my Democratic colleagues have tried to increase the minimum wage.

Working Americans deserve a raise, but Congressional Republicans keep giving them political tricks. This week, they attempted with all their might to give away billions of dollars in tax breaks to 8,000 of their wealthiest friends in exchange for giving the common man a two dollar raise.

It was political blackmail, and an example of the cynical politics we have all grown tired of in the last six years.

I came to Washington to focus on America's great challenges, but that has not been possible in the "Do-Nothing Congress" we have today. For two years, Washington Republicans have done little to address the real problems facing our country. And when they have taken action, the results have made America less safe, and the middle-class of America has been forgotten.

We need a new direction for America, and a new Congress that works for our common good.

My fellow Democrats and I are committed to protecting our national security, so our troops can adequately confront America's threats. It is the first job of government to make sure that we have a strong defense, and that is a job on which Democrats will never fail.

Next, we will unite America behind our shared challenges. We will make real an era of energy independence based on new technology, renewable energy and conservation. Never again will America be held hostage to foreign oil.

We will give tax breaks to families struggling to afford college tuition.

We will raise the minimum wage.

We will tackle and solve the health care catastrophe that affects America's businesses and families.

Together, Democrats will change the current course of America and take our great Nation in a new direction of peace, hope and prosperity.

I am Senator Ken Salazar from Colorado. Thank you for listening.

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