U.S. House Rep Bill Young (R-FL) is not exactly what you’d call a ‘people person,’ particularly when it comes to dealing with tough questions from constituents. Remember his response to a young man asking if he would support a House bill that raises the minimum wage to $10? He cheerfully responded, “Probably not.” The young man politely persisted, “Would $10 not give us a living wage?” to which the Congressman, less cheerfully, replied, “How ‘bout getting a job?”
You can see the video here:
Maybe it’s the fact that he’s about to turn 82 (on December 16) that has Young so on edge as of late. Or maybe it’s the edge of the ‘fiscal cliff.’
One week ago, Young spoke at the Tiger Bay Club’s luncheon, where he reiterated his hard stance on his refusal to raise taxes under any circumstances. According to Tampa Bay, FL’s Creative Loafing, Young said, “I did sign [Grover Norquist’s] pledge. I am really opposed to raising taxes when I know the money is going to be spent and not be used to deal with the budget deficit.”
Young went on to say, “The pledge talks about raising the rate of taxes, it doesn’t talk about not raising any revenue. We think we can raise a lot of revenue without raising the rate of taxation. I will support what has to be done if it meets the parameters of no taxing just to spend money….”
Constituents, primarily from the Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN) were unhappy with Young’s stick-in-the-mud stance, and organized a protest that took place outside his Seminole, FL offices earlier this week. According to the organization’s press release, they wanted a commitment from Young to “extend the middle class tax cuts, make the richest 2% pay their fair share, and protect Medicare, Medicaid, education, and other vital services from cuts.”
Apparently, it was more than Young could shake a stick at.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Young arrived at his office as it was closing, in the company of St. Petersburg College police officers and staff members, including his chief of staff, Harry Glenn. One of the louder protesters got a bit too close to Young, and so the congressman grabbed him by the arm and brandished his walking cane as if to strike the activist. Both were separated by police officers before the incident escalated to blows.
And while witnesses say Young was the first to get physical, the Congressman insists the protester was the aggressor. Young’s attorney, David Jolly, on Wednesday told Peter Schorsch of the Saint Peters Blog, “[The accuser] is a young man with a history of violating the law who has been physically following the Congressman for months. In the coming days counsel will be reviewing whether his activities rise to the level of stalking, assault, or tortuous harassment of any kind.”
And Young is ‘sticking’ to his story.