With just a few days left for the pivotal congressional elections Nov. 7, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said he considers the Hispanic vote important, but stressed the historical low voter turnout has to change.
"The Hispanic power in America will never be felt until they register to vote and vote," Mr. Reid commented. "Until it (voter participation) comes up to match their numbers, it'll continue to be felt in a very tepid way. If you have a ball team, and you have someone sitting on the bench that is the biggest, fastest, smartest of all your players, that doesn't do your team any good. (The Hispanic community) is that that giant on the bench. They can run faster, jump higher, they're smarter, they're more agile, but they're sitting on the bench. I say, get off that bench and help the team we call our communities around America. It will change dramatically how that team plays."
In a conversation with Hispanic Business magazine, Mr. Reid said that while Republicans stress that Latino-owned businesses will benefit by making tax cuts permanent, Hispanics are first better served by what Mr. Reid says is a Democratic focus on workers.
"You can't help business without helping those people who support those businesses. The minimum wage hasn't been raised in 10 years. That's something that helps people who need and want to work," Mr. Reid said. "Are we better off having people on welfare or are we better off having them work? (And) we have 47 million people without health care. This administration has been bad for working men and women, and there is no group of people in America that work and what to work harder than Hispanics, but the fruits of their labors are not there in this administration."
U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, among others in the Bush Administration, has said that letting the tax cuts die is tantamount to raising taxes. Mr. Gutierrez told Hispanic Business that the cuts are one of two key issues for Latino business, the other being new trade accords.
Mr. Reid also offered that if the Democrats were to win a majority in Congress, they would take up comprehensive immigration reform, including a guest worker program.
"I say every day that the Republicans used the immigration issue for political reasons. The president one day says he didn't think a border fence was necessary and then he goes and signs it. We (Democrats) will take the issue seriously."
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