Weekly Democratic Address
August 11, 2017
Hi, this is Congressman Cedric Richmond. I proudly represent the 2nd Congressional District of Louisiana, and I’m honored to serve as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
My fellow Democrats and I are painfully aware that America – the land of opportunity – has morphed into a country that has turned its back on too many of our families: our rural families, our blue-collar families, our minority families, and especially those families working hard to escape poverty.
This is not the land of the free and the home of the brave, where opportunity and prosperity are available to all.
I am a product of that America.
My mother, Maple, was one of 15 children, and grew up in the poorest place in America: Lake Providence, Louisiana. Her mother was a housekeeper, and she didn’t know her father. But because of family, access to quality public education, a supportive government and, especially, affordable access to a college education, she made it.
She then worked hard every day, and into the night, as a public school special education teacher. She did that with great enthusiasm, steadfast dedication, and extreme pride because she knew she was adding to the lives of her students and earning enough to provide for her two boys.
She lost her husband and my dad when I was 7 and my brother was 9. However, her wage as a public-school teacher was a living wage, and where she fell short, family and government were there to help. She made sure college was an option for my brother and I, and we both earned degrees from Morehouse College.
It’s important for me to tell my mother’s story because that story wouldn’t be the same today.
That’s why my fellow Democrats and I are fighting non-stop to change the deal that America has with her citizens. Instead of the current raw deal, we want to deliver A Better Deal. A deal that means if you work hard and play by the rules, you and your family will have endless opportunities.
This time of year, I know that too many families are sitting around the table experiencing great anxiety. Parents are wondering how to pay for school clothes, school supplies or tuition. How to pay for your child to go to that college that they busted their tail to get into, because you don’t want to let them down. Not to mention how to pay for childcare or care for an elderly parent. These are the real-life issues facing us.
Now, I’ll be as plain, straightforward and honest as possible. You deserve better.
You deserve a quality public education system that invests in our schools, our teachers and our students. One that prepares our students for the future and teaches them the skills required for a 21st century economy. A system that guarantees that where a child is born, what they look like, what they believe or what their gender is won’t limit their possibilities. A system that ensures that they can be whatever they want to be.
You deserve a health care system that delivers affordable health care to all. One that doesn’t discriminate because you have a pre-existing condition. One that doesn’t cap benefits. A system that doesn’t penalize rural America or punish a baby for coming into this world with a heart condition.
You deserve real investment in our infrastructure. Investment in roads, bridges and levees, as well as broadband and schools. That investment will create millions of jobs and create economic gains for those left out of the recovery from the Great Recession.
You deserve Congress to put ordinary American families first.
You deserve a living wage, because a full-time job should allow you to provide for your family.
You deserve a fair tax structure. One that doesn’t allow America’s richest people to pay a tax rate lower than their secretaries. A tax structure that will mandate that corporations pay their fair share, rather than bankrupt the country using loopholes and schemes.
You deserve an America that values diversity, protects freedom of religion, promotes equality and provides security for vulnerable populations.
Here’s what you don’t deserve: a society that tolerates bullying or promotes hate. You don’t deserve a country that puts the wealthy at an advantage at the expense of our regular families. You don’t deserve a President you can’t trust to tell the truth, and, finally, you don’t deserve to go to bed every night wondering if the President is going to lead us to war.
The Democratic Members of Congress are determined to bring prosperity and opportunity to every nook and cranny of this country. I’m very proud and honored to be able to sit here today and reaffirm our desire to bring you A Better Deal because you deserve better, and I know it.