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Teddy Kennedy introduces "Rebuild with Respect Act"

Senator Teddy Kennedy offers the following statement while introducing the "Rebuild with Respect Act":

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita exposed the silent slavery of poverty for all of America to see. There's no excuse for ignoring what so obviously needs to be done to achieve genuine equality and basic fairness in this country. We know we're a stronger country when we're a fairer country and the crisis on the Gulf Coast has given us a chance to move closer to that goal.
Yet, the Bush Administration's response to the crisis has been fundamentally unfair. They have awarded billions of dollars in contracts to many of their corporate friends. Yet they also took the harsh step denying fair wages to workers implementing the contracts. They have allowed their no-bid contractors to ignore safety protections and exploit undocumented workers. They have cut off emergency aid, at a time when many are still struggling to survive. These responses reflect the misguided priorities that have become the indelible hallmark of this Administration.
Sadly, our Republican colleagues in Congress share the Administration's misguided priorities. Instead of finding ways to meet the needs of the hardworking Americans affected by Katrina and Rita, they are focusing on their proposal to grant over $70 billion in new tax cuts for millionaires...

This Act would:

# Allow Gulf Coast families to rebuild their own communities by requiring all recipients of federal disaster relief funds to employ individuals displaced from jobs or residences by Katrina and Rita and ensuring that federal contracts go to local businesses in the Gulf Coast region.
# Ensure that workers who have lost everything do not lose fair wages, too, by reinstating the protections of the Davis-Bacon Act for workers in the construction industry.
# Recognize and address the racial inequalities that have sparked national outcry by requiring contractors receiving federal disaster relief funds to fully comply with all affirmative action requirements applicable under law.
# Ensure that the federal contracting process is fair to small and disadvantaged businesses.
# Protect the health and safety of recovery and reconstruction workers and volunteers in the Gulf Coast region by requiring federal agencies to develop a coordinated health and safety plan that includes safety training, needed equipment, and monitoring of safety conditions.
# Provide economic security for those who have difficulty finding jobs by providing an emergency extension of unemployment insurance benefits and expanding eligibility for the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program.

Despite the bold move of mentioning "undocumented workers" (in reality they're called "illegal aliens"), there's nothing in there about enforcing the immigration laws against those who employ said workers.

Rebuilding czar considered

From this:

...Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Democrat Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts said today that they have introduced legislation to create a federal agency to oversee the recovery. The director of the agency, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, would oversee all federal resources involved in the recovery effort, under the legislation.
``We must provide an accountable structure for ensuring that these taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and in a systematic way,'' Gregg said in a statement.
Bush said Sept. 26 that a federal reconstruction czar is ``an idea that I'm still considering.''

"Liberals" trying to do more damage to Katrina victims

The "liberals" have been "looking out for" America's poor for the past four decades, and New Orleans exposes just how little good they've done.
Now, they want to continue their failed policies, the Toronto Star reports in "America's dark underbelly":

...Hurricane Katrina has exposed America's cursed underbelly, its multitudes of poverty-stricken and hopeless, forgotten by a government bent on offering tax breaks to the wealthy.
Already, there are suggestions Katrina could help swing a social pendulum back in the United States, a pendulum that has swung in favour of less tax, smaller government and cutbacks on entitlement programs since the late '60s, a philosophy that flourished with the 1980 inauguration of Ronald Reagan.
"This has the potential to be a watershed moment," says Rosa Brooks, a professor and social commentator at Georgetown Law School in Washington...
...Ronald Walters of the University of Maryland, an author and expert on class and racial politics, is also optimistic that the images of the poor suffering in New Orleans could spark a national debate on an issue that has been ignored for too long.
"This hurricane dredged it all up and shoved it in people's faces like nothing before in our history," he said. "I am reasonably confident that some type of sea change could be afoot. What you're seeing here is the blowback of the failure to deal with social policy over the years."
...The national media "discovering" poverty in America is a little like Columbus "discovering" America, Brooks said. Both were already there...
...If the move away from social issues and safety nets and toward the sacrosanct U.S.-style rugged individualism is cyclical, it has been a long cycle.
Most historians say it dates to the backlash against the civil rights movement of the 1960s and took hold with Reagan in 1980 when the war on poverty became a war on the poor...

OK, that's enough. I had to stop before they get to the Nancy Pelosi and Teddy Kennedy quotes.
Your policies have been tried, and they've failed miserably. The corruption and cronyism of the Bush administration is certainly not optimal either. Hopefully we can find a common sense, mainstream American policy that helps those who really need it, but doesn't convert millions of people into wards of the state.

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