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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act of 2006

August 6, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of raising the minimum wage for the nearly 7 million minimum-wage American workers. However, I oppose this bill because it contains provisions unrelated to actually increasing the minimum wage. Those provisions should be voted on separately.

As a matter of fact, I am really ashamed to be a Member of Congress at this point. The Republicans are playing tricks again. They have coupled another tax break for the richest in America with this minimum-wage increase.

Since 2001, this Republican Congress has cut taxes by $1.8 trillion, and most of these tax cuts have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. Yet when it comes to helping low- and middle-income Americans, the Republican Party is nowhere to be seen. Even this vote came reluctantly and is tied to giveaways that will gut any increase in the minimum wage.

Each day Americans are confronted with rising prices of everyday items they need: gasoline, home energy, and health care. These rising costs are stretching family budgets thin, preventing them from saving for a family emergency, education, a new home, or retirement.

In California over the past 5 years, the cost of staple goods has risen at a steady rate. For example, the cost of milk has risen 23 percent; housing has increased 45 percent; and child care has increased 14 percent. However, the wages for thousands of workers have remained stagnant.

The increase in the minimum wage is about one thing, Mr. Speaker, justice for American workers. Without an increase in the minimum wage, the American worker cannot enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Quality of life is indeed important. Freedom to pursue one's dreams, whether it is in education or a new home, is freedom. Happiness is about fulfilling dreams. Workers earning the current stagnant minimum wage are simply not as happy as they should be in America.

I oppose this legislation as drafted. I am ashamed to be here with these people who are denying the poorest of our society a decent living.

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