Rep. C.W. Bill Young had an unpleasant encounter on the Fourth of July. After speaking at the dedication of a new freedom mural in Treasure Island, the Indian Shores Republican was set up by his political opponents. Asked whether he supports raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, Young responded "probably not'' and added, "How about getting a job?''
"I do have one,'' said the questioner, identified as Pepe Kovanis, as the Florida Consumer Action Network recorded the encounter.
"Then why do you want that benefit?'' Young asked as he walked away. "Get a job.''
Predictably, the video is bouncing around the Internet and Democrats are pouncing on Young's dismissive response. Young, who was first elected to the House in 1970, always has been accessible to constituents and never has been confrontational. The minimum wage question came after he was asked loaded questions by others about veterans and the federal budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Young acknowledged Friday it was frustrating. "I guess this is the new politics,'' he said. "I don't like the new politics.''
But it is the new reality in the Internet age, and Young has to adapt. "Get a job'' is not the appropriate response in a weak economy, even when being baited by political opponents. It is out of character for Young, and he has to be mindful that one dismissive remark on a hot holiday in Treasure Island can flash around the world in an instant.