Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Two of ours come out swinging

As the situation in Iraq deteriorates almost as quickly as the price of gas rises and the President's poll numbers fall, two of the Texas Democratic candidates yesterday broadsided their GOP incumbent opponents for their respective failings.

David Van Os writes under the headline "Yearning to Breathe Free"(emphasis mine):

An August 22 story in the Austin American-Statesman describes the plight of immigrant workers who perform some of the most laborious jobs in our economy yet have difficulty obtaining the pay they have earned for their work. (“The power of shame pays off; public vigil helps migrants claim money owed to them,” Austin American-Statesman, Asher Price, 8-22-05; link above req. reg.)

Under state law the Texas Attorney General has the power to come down hard against unscrupulous employers who exploit low-wage immigrant workers by refusing to pay such workers for work they have performed. Suits by the Attorney General to obtain injunctions and to assess the stiff monetary penalties provided by Texas payday laws would quickly get the attention of employers who unlawfully refuse to pay their workers and would deter other employers from similar conduct.

The immortal words on our Statue of Liberty proclaim, “Give me your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.” We are mostly a nation of immigrants who came and whose ancestors came to this land fleeing injustice and seeking the breath of liberty. The exceptions, such as those who are descended from victims of the African slave trade and those whose ancestors were incorporated into the nation under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, nevertheless often take lead positions in our nation’s pursuit of freedom and justice for all. No human being can “breathe free” if unable to purchase the necessities of life as a result of laboring without just compensation. The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution is uncompromising in its permanent prohibition of involuntary servitude as a fundamental value of the American social covenant.

The Texas Legislature meant what it said when it enacted laws against non-payment of wages with stern penalties assessable through suit by the Attorney General. While the current Republican Attorney General politically grandstands over a Ten Commandments monument on the State Capitol Grounds, he ignores the biblical injunction that "You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers.” The Republican Attorney General should move quickly on this issue, but he will not do so because it would interfere with the immigrant-bashing philosophy of his radical political base. It is a terrible shame that enforcement of the laws of Texas on behalf of the working poor will have to wait until I am sworn in as Attorney General in January 2007; but when that time comes, enforcement will arrive swiftly and aggressively on behalf of not only immigrants but all Texas workers, regardless of background or status, who are victimized by such unjust and unscrupulous labor practices.

And then Barbara Radnofsky smacks down KBH with this:

Recent news reports showed that Senator Hutchison has abandoned the issues on which she based her announcement to seek re-election, choosing to focus on three issues our campaign identified: veterans? affairs, education, and health care. She has crawfished on a variety of issues our campaign raised.

* She has flip-flopped on veterans affairs after a series of speeches and press releases from our campaign, and has finally called for a VA Hospital south of San Antonio, after months of my campaigning for such a facility.

* She has flip-flopped after her abandonment of her Constitutional obligation of Advise and Consent, and is now calling for Senate vetting of Supreme Court appointees, after her prompt rubberstamping of the President's nomination and her immediate call on her colleagues to ensure the nomination.

* She wrongly claims to be supportive of health care when in fact she voted against the bipartisan Bingaman-Smith amendment that restored Medicaid funding cut from Texas. After the last eleven years of rubberstamping and failed leadership, Texas now leads the nation in percentage of uninsured children and adults. She now parrots our campaigns call for insurance reform. We call on her to echo our call for prompt pay and preventive care.

* She wrongly claims to support education, while on her watch Texas has achieved the lowest high school graduation rate in the U.S. We call on her to echo our recommendations for mediation and full funding for grants for higher education.

* She has proudly touted her role in passage of the transportation bill. We call on her to concede that the transportation formulas in the bill that she rubberstamped have harmed Texans, sending our hard-earned Texas dollars out of state so that we can build needless construction projects in Alaska.

It sure will be nice to have real leaders in Austin and Washington for a change, won't it?

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