News and Press Markey Gives Rally Speech to Berkshire Democrats

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — U.S. Sen. Edward Markey invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday in rallying Democrats for the progressive cause.

Speaking to open a gubernatorial forum put on by the Democratic organization Berkshire Brigades, Markey said King would want unemployment benefits to be extended, health care expanded for all and the minimum wage being raised.

“His challenge to us changed everything and as we gather to celebrate and remember this great man, we must ask ourselves, what would Dr. King say about the state of our country these days?” Markey said. “What would he expect from all of us? What would Dr. King say about the income inequality in the United States that he fought so fearlessly to eradicate?”

He said there are 46 million Americans living in poverty, households are making less than they did on average than in 1989 and one in three women are living in poverty.

“Women still make 77 cents on every dollar that a man earns. The average African-American woman earns 64 cents, the average Latina earns 55 cents compared to a white man,” Markey said. “Closing the wage gap between men and women would cut the poverty rate in half for working women and their families and add nearly half a trillion dollars to the national economy.”

Meanwhile, the top 1 percent of wage earners have seen their pay rise by 86 percent, he said. The unemployment rate is at 7 percent but 13 for African Americans and 11.5 for Hispanics. Emergency unemployment benefits have been debated in Congress and Republicans have fiercely opposed the extension.

“I think it is fundamentally wrong to blame people who have been laid off for their plight. If the jobs were there, they’d take them,” Markey said, after his speech. “From a humane perspective, it is our responsibility to continue unemployment insurance until the federal government and the private sector creates the jobs that most of these workers would much rather have than being on unemployment.”