NPR logo Rep. Kanjorski Seems To Insult Minorities


Rep. Kanjorski Seems To Insult Minorities

Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a Pennsylvania Democrat, was in the midst of a passionate defense of a program in his state that uses federal money to keep financially stressed low-income families in their homes when he made a distinction that's causing him some trouble.

He said:

"Because of the longevity of the recession, these are people - and they are not minorities, and they're not defective, and they're not all the things you like to insinuate that these programs are about. These are average good American people. Most of them have been veterans who served, responsible, have worked all their lives, but they're not full of money. They live pay check to pay check and they always will because they are in the lower margins of our society."

Lou Barletta, the Republican mayor of Hazleton, Pa. who is challenging Kanjorski, jumped on the Democrat for his comment, issuing a statement:

“Kanjorski must apologize for saying some people are ‘defective.’ He said Wednesday that ‘defective people’ are not ‘average, good American people,’ so who are ‘they?’” Mayor Barletta asked. “Also, Kanjorski, in his own words, said Wednesday that minorities are not ‘average, good American people.’ This is outrageous and shows how out of touch Kanjorski is with the real world.”

Kanjorski's spokesperson responded that he didn't intend to apologize. An excerpt from

Kanjorski spokeswoman Abigail McDonough said Kanjorski’s remarks had been intentionally misconstrued. “Anyone trying to politicize this issue clearly doesn’t get it,” she said.

“In his impassioned plea for conferees to adopt Pennsylvania’s model program to help homeowners facing foreclosure to stay in their homes, the congressman was stating that many people insinuate that those who benefit from government programs are those not looking for jobs, but that those suggestions are wildly inaccurate,” said McDonough.