As many of you already know, one of the first changes in the way the House will be conducting business come January is longer work hours. The upcoming House majority leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer, delivered the news last week.
The Congressional workday, which had become a Tuesday through Thursday affair, along with huge blocks of additional time off, has resulted in a workload of just 103 days this year. As the Washington Post correctly pointed out, "that's seven days fewer than the infamous 'Do-Nothing Congress' of 1948."
Rep. Hoyer has put Congress on alert that the House workday will now run from 6:30PM Monday through 2PM Friday. Rep. Hoyer also said that some of the extended holidays will be a thing of the past.
Considering that the current Congress was so lax that 9 major spending bills were left unresolved, a move some said was deliberately done to lock-up the upcoming Democratic majority for a time, the lengthened work week was absolutely the right thing to seek.
However, not to Republican Rep. Jack Kingston.
Most Inane Quote Of The Year
In a widely reported comment, that will surely come back to haunt him, Kingston said,
"Keeping us up here eats away at families. Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."He really said that.
I was so taken aback by the utter crassness of his comment...at his total lack of political acumen for having the audacity to utter those words...that I sought to find out a little more about this great orator.
Here is some of what I uncovered.
The 'U' Word
Rep. Kingston, who serves on the Appropriation Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee, has an issue with what he refers to as a new "urban-based" Congress, which he is telling farmers, is going to be out to undercut our nation's agricultural interests.
According to the Southwest Farm Press, here's what Kingston told the Southern Crop Production Association in their annual meeting last week:
“Now, we have a new Congress that has more of an urban base, and the urban newspapers have decided that one of the problems with the national budget is spending for agriculture programs. So I believe we’ll have a lot more skirmishes over subsidies and the movement toward fuel independence.”I must have missed something.
Were districts redrawn before this election to allow for more 'urban' representation? Or is 'urban' a code word for something else? Ethnicity and race, perhaps?
Unless he was referring to non-existent, city-friendly redistricting, he's got some explaining to do.
Rep. Kingston is also one of the fiercest opponents of raising the federal minimum wage.
That same Southwest Farm Press article, which reveals that Kingston was "rated by the National Journal as the 'most conservative House member' in 2005," had this Kingston quote on changing mimimum wage laws:
“The Democrats have promised to raise the minimum wage. I oppose it. In 1980, 15 percent of U.S. workers were on minimum wage; today, it’s just 2.5 percent — of which 15 percent are teenagers, 40 percent have never held a job in their lives, and 30 percent are part-time."Interesting how using stats can dehumanize, isn't it?
What is Kingston's point, teenagers, or first-time job-holders are not deserving of a liveable wage?
As for the 30% part-timers that Kingston refers to, has he considered that this is quite often a worker's 2nd job because they cannot make ends meet?
The minimum wage has been at $5.15 for the past 9 years. How can anybody think that this is a wage that people can live on? Plus, each year, the spending value of that wage declines. The Democrat proposal to raise it to $7.25 is the least we should be doing.
Kingston, though, is allegedly more concerned about business owners, adding "A government-controlled, government-mandated wage generally means small businesses are going to lose jobs. When the minimum wage is increased, there’s a wage push in all directions,and that’s what causes a wage/price spiral."
What Kingston didn't refer to, but CNN did, back in June, is that, Congressional salaries over the the past 9 years have increased by $31,600, which would translate to a gain of $15 an hour, for a 40-hour work week.
Imagine what that translates to with the current work schedule?
This is from a man who supposedly cares about families?
It's a good thing that the Democrats are making increasing the minimum wage a priority and have refused to increase their own salaries until that wage increase is passed.
Kingston On A 'Booming' Iraq
Finally, here is the wit and wisdom of Rep. Kingston on Iraq. He thinks reporting on Iraq is not as upbeat as it should be.
Once again, from the Southwest Farm Press:
“'Since 2003, 33,000 businesses have filed for licenses in Iraq; there are 44 television stations, where there once was just one; over 100 newspapers, where there was just one; and a port, never used under Saddam Hussein, that now handles 40 ships a month. All this we never hear about.'The 'Family' That Kingston Cares About
"Noting that the United States is at war with Sunnis and Shiites 'who’ve been fighting for thousands of years,' he said, 'if we don’t have the staying power to remain in there for 10 or 15 years, we ought to be realistic and say, This is not a war for us.’"
Since it seems apparent that Kingston would have no problem asking families let their loved ones remain in harm's way for 10 or 15 more years, I would love to ask him one question...
Just what kind of work week does Kingston think our soldiers are enjoying during their tours of Iraq?
It's certainly a helluva lot longer than 103 days out of the year.
The only family that Rep. Jack Kingston truly cares about is his own.
(If you would like to read more about the wit and wisdom of Jack Kingston, and respond to him directly, please note that he has his own blog which you can access here.)