Monday, July 31, 2006

Ford Votes To Give Tennesseans A Raise While Corker Continues To Flash His Wealth In Our Face

"Corker said setting wages was the responsibility of the private sector” (7/14/2006 Memphis Commercial Appeal, Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Corker opposes raising minimum wage, and thinks the responsibility to govern that falls to the private sector: “Ed [Bryant] and I agree on the issue, and I do want to say though, as a business person that was worked through out the country, that we consistently, always made sure that the people working with us had a livable wage, and I think that’s the responsibility of the people in the private sector to govern that. I did that in other positions, and yet on this issue, I would say that Ed and I agree.” (7/13/2006 WBIR Knoxville debate)

"It is an issue of fairness to raise the minimum wage for hard working Tennesseans and Americans." U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr.


Millionaire Corker Opposes Minimum Wage

NASHVILLE -- In the same week that the oil companies funding his opponents' campaigns announced record profits and Tennesseans paid record prices for gasoline, U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. today voted in the U.S. House to stand beside Tennessee families, and raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25.

Rep. Ford's stand is in stark contrast to GOP candidate Bob Corker, who not only opposes raising the minimum wage, he opposes the existence of the minimum wage. Corker, who is worth up to $230 million and who has already spent more in the primary campaign than most Tennesseans will earn in a lifetime, said in a July 13 debate in Knoxville that he opposes setting any minimum wage at all. This should come as no surprise to the people of Chattanooga; when Corker was mayor of that city he accepted a pay raise at the same time he eliminated cost-of-living raises for city employees. [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/15/06]

Congressman Ford issued the following statement today:

"People who work hard everyday trying to create a better life for their families deserve better, especially when the heads of oil companies are enjoying record profits and astronomical pensions. It is an issue of fairness to raise the minimum wage for hard working Tennesseans and Americans.

"If the people of this great state give me a chance to serve them in the Senate, I will stand up for them everyday and be a leader on the things that matter most."

Ford for Tennessee senior advisor Michael Powell also issued the following statement:

"Mayor Corker raised his own pay every year, and he raised taxes on working people struggling to get by on the minimum wage. And he says they don't deserve a raise, too? That's more than unforgivable policy. That's forgetting your raising.

"The next time Bob Corker picks up one of his Wal-Mart rent checks, he should take some time to listen to the people shopping there. He'd find out they need change--and they need it now.

"A decent wage isn't a Republican idea or a Democratic idea--it's just a good idea. That's what Harold Ford Jr. and a new generation of leadership are about."

Corker Opposes Any Minimum Wage. During the July 13 Republican senatorial debate in Knoxville, Bob Corker was asked if he supports raising the minimum wage. Not only did Corker say he opposes and increase, he also proclaimed that it was not the government’s business to be setting a minimum wage in the first place. “I think that’s the responsibility of the people in the private sector to govern that,” Corker said.

[GOP Senate Debate, 7/13/06; Memphis Commercial Appeal, 7/14/06]

Corker Raised Pay At The Same Time He Cut City Workers’ Pay. In 2001, Mayor Corker’s pay rose from $118,796 to $122,360. He also accepted pay raises in 2002 and 2003, when he was the only mayor of the state’s four largest cities to receive one. Soon after finding out about his own salary increase, Corker proposed his first budget, which eliminated annual, the automatic cost-of-living increase for city employees, including police officers. Instead of the cost-of-living increase, Corker offered a smaller increase and said that employees should be happy with that. As one police employee said, “That is messing with our livelihood.”

[Chattanooga Times Free Press, 7/17/01, 7/03/03, 8/22/01, 10/23/01, 10/28/01]

Corker Earns 1,870 Times More Than Minimum Wage Worker. A single parent earning minimum wage earns $10,700 per year, $6,000 below the federal poverty guidelines of $16,600 for a family of three. Bob Corker made up to $20 million last year, 1,869 times what a person earning the minimum wage earned.

[Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/15/06]

Real Value Of Minimum Wage At 51-Year Low. Since then the minimum wage was last raised in 1997, its real value has eroded by 20 percent. Minimum wage workers have already lost all of the gains of the 1996-1997 increase. Today, the real value of the minimum wage is more than $4.00 below what it was in 1968. To have the purchasing power it had in 1968, the minimum wage would have to be more than $9.26 an hour today, not $5.15. In fact, the buying power of the minimum wage is now at a 51-year low.

[April 2006 Inflation Data; EPI Report, 6/20/06]

Minimum Wage Increase Would Aid Almost 450,000 Tennesseans. Nearly 450,000 Tennesseans would benefit from a minimum wage increase to $7.25 an hour – 153,000 directly, and another 294,000 indirectly.

[Economic Policy Institute Analysis]

Wal-Mart Supercenter on Corker-owned land: “A Wal-Mart Supercenter could be coming to the Brainerd area as a developer looks at building on a 40-acre site near Osborne Office Park. The site, a former par 3 golf course bordering Interstate 75, could hold a proposed 208,000-square-foot Wal-Mart, according to documents filed with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The proposal also calls for 45,000-square-feet of other retail space. The land long has been owned by Osborne Group, an affiliate of the Corker Group, the company built by Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker.”

[Chattanooga Times Free Press, 03/05/03, Personal Financial Disclourse 2005 filed with Secretary of Senate, pg 8, attached]

Wow, this once again shows two things that we already know: 1) Harold Ford Jr. is someone with real leadership and 2) Bob Corker is seriously out of touch.

The minimum wage needs to be raised--no question about it. Congressman Ford understands that. He knows that everyday Tennesseans are struggling to make ends meet these days--and he wants to help. That is why he voted to raise the minimum wage.

The minimum wage has not been increased since 1997, when Bill Clinton was President. However, since 1989, members of Congress have voted granted themselves over $60,000 in raises. (I am proud to say that Congressman Ford came out against annual pay hike last year) Something is wrong with that picture.

With his support of the minimum wage increase, Congressman Ford is once again demonstrating real leadership, which is what folks all around our state are craving.

Can you believe how out of touch Bob Corker is? I mean come on! The guy is throwing millions of dollars around like it is nothing, yet he can't support a raise for Tennesseans?

During this campaign, Corker has spent more than two-thirds of what Tennesseans make in a lifetime working. That alone should tell you just how out of touch he is with hardworking Tennesseans.

Bob just doesn't get it.

Our next Senator should be someone who cares about everyone's well being--not just an elite few.

It's time we do our duty and be our brother's keeper. That first means raising the minimum wage, helping millions of families all across our state and nation.

Harold Ford Jr. has the leadership and the compassion to vote for the increase.
Thank you Congressman Ford!

Related: Van Hilleary Advocated Lowering The Minimum Wage

210 Days

Days of Congressional Inaction on Ethics

Above is the number of days that have passed since Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman.

It is also the number of days in which Congress has failed to pass an ethics reform bill that would limit private travel, ski and golf junkets, and would call for a full disclosure of expenses by lobbyists on members of Congress.

It is time for Congress to step up and pass an ethics reform bill that would do all of the above. In addition, it is time to end the pork barrel spending system as we know it and establish an independent ethics commission that would review ethics complaints against members of Congress.

I am proud Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is fighting for that reform!

Read Congressman Ford's call for reform of the House rules here!