Kanjorski race remark sparks flap

June 24, 2010

Republicans are seizing onto racially-freighted remarks Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) made Wednesday evening at the financial reform conference committee.

Speaking before the committee, which is trying to reconcile the House and Senate reform bills, Kanjorski appeared to imply that “minorities” are not “average, good American people.”

Kanjorski, who chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, said, “We’re giving relief to people that I deal with in my office every day now unfortunately. But because of the longevity of this recession, these are people — and they’re not minorities and they’re not defective and they’re not all the things you’d like to insinuate that these programs are about — these are average, good American people.”

Kanjorski went on to add that, “Most of them have been veterans, have served, have worked all their lives. But they are not full of money. They live paycheck to paycheck and they always will because they are in the lower margin of our society.”

Republicans immediately pounced on the remarks. Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, a Republican who is running against Kanjorski, called the Democrat’s comments “outrageous and shows how out of touch Kanjorski is with the real world.”

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Tory Mazzola said, “Kanjorski’s candid moment reveals a mentality that goes against American values and traditions. The fact that he does not believe minorities are ‘average, good American people’ uncovers a harsh inequity that has no place today, never mind at the seat of government.”

A Kanjorski spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

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