Monday, February 18, 2013

Boehner Has No Intention Of Allowing A Vote On The Minimum Wage


That graphic above is a stark reminder of why President Obama asked Congress to raise the minimum wage as part of his State of the Union address last week. Massachusetts state Rep. Carl Sciortino is running for the congressional seat being vacated by Ed Markey. He was one of the Massachusetts Progressive Caucus and of People For the American Way's Young Elected Officials Network. The head of the YEO Network, Andrew Gillum (D-Tallahassee) told me Carl's "devotion to our work has never diminished. He served as a YEO State Director for multiple years and has invested in training the next generation of leaders for both the Young People For and Front Line Leaders Academy. In 2010 he received the Progressive Movement Leadership Award from the YEO Network at the YEO National Convening." That's the kind of state Rep Carl has been and that's what we expect from him as a congressman as well. It's why Blue America is endorsing him. This is what he told us last night about the minimum wage fight Boehner is sabotaging:
"Lifting people out of poverty is good for families and for business. Increasing the minimum wage ensures that a worker who puts in a forty-hour week can make enough to take care of their family, pay their bills, and put food on the table, all money that stays in the local economy. There was a time when working a full-time job provided economic security, and it is an appropriate and necessary role of government to steer us back towards those days once again."
You may have heard Republicans shrieking over the last few days that President Obama's proposal to raising the minimum wage by a tiny bit would signal the end of the world-- or at least an increase in unemployment. This has, more or less, been the party line of the Party of Greed and Selfishness since 1933 when the first U.S. minimum wage law passed and since 1938 after a right-wing Supreme Court tossed it out and it had to be repassed by Congress. Their concern trolling about unemployment has always been a lie and is always being proven to be a lie, not that that ever slows them down. There is a reason for opposition to Obama's proposal, namely that the increase is far too small. But I haven't noticed any Republicans making that case.

When the Democrats took over Congress in 2006, one of their first priorities was to increase the minimum wage. H.R. 2, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, passed 315-116 on January 10, 2007, within days of Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker. Every single Democrat voted for it-- even the most reactionary right-wing Blue Dogs and the most corporately shilled-out New Dems. And so did 82-- not 8 point 2... 82 Republicans. Of course Boehner and Cantor and most of the die hard anti-family reactionaries voted against it, from Paul Ryan (R-WI), Buck McKeon (R-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Dave Camp (R-MI), John Kline (R-MN) and Ed Royce (R-CA) to outright crackpots like Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Joe Pitts (R-PA), Steve King (R-IA), Virginia Foxx (R-VA) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC).

The list of Republicans who voted for the minimum wage increase then is far more interesting. Included are GOP heavyweights like Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), now U.S. Senator Jim Moran (R-KS), NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Appropriations Committee chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), Financial Services Committee chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), now Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), now Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), current Senate candidate Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), now Senator John Boozman (R-AR), and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

It's not likely that Boehner and Cantor will even allow a vote on the proposal this year or next. They know Republicans who support increasing the minimum wage will be in jeopardy from the party's crackpot primary base and that Republicans who vote against increasing it will be in trouble with normal voters in the general election. The federal level right now is $7.25 far below what a family can live on without government subsidies. The states which have already raised the rate to at least $8.00 all have Democratic governors and voters who tend to be better educated, more prosperous and least likely to elect Republicans and religionist crackpots:
Washington....... $9.19
Oregon............. $8.95
Vermont........... $8.60
Connecticut....... $8.25
DC................... $8.25
Illinois.............. $8.25
Nevada............ $8.25
California.......... $8.00
Massachusetts... $8.00
Ohio has also raised the state rate above the federal rate, to $7.85, and over the weekend the Dayton Daily News did an in-depth look at the debate between progressives who back Obama's proposal and the conservatives' lies and fairy tales about why to inflict more pain on working families.

"The buying power of the federal minimum wage," they point out, "has risen and fallen with time and inflation, but is now far below where it was in 1968, when it was $1.60 an hour. If the minimum wage had been indexed to inflation then, it would now be $10.65 an hour. First the right wing lies and propaganda repeated endlessly by Fox and Hate Talk Radio:
Chris Kerschner, vice president of public policy and economic development for the Greater Dayton Chamber of Commerce, said the Dayton chamber is-- and has always been-- philosophically opposed to federal wage mandates.

“It’s not because we don’t think people should be paid a fair salary for the work that they’re doing,” Kerschner said. “It’s just we believe that free-market competition should determine what the salaries are and not government mandates.”

If two businesses decide to set different wages, he said, employees are free to leave one and go to the other.

“But when there’s mandatory wage requirements, that restricts an employer’s ability to be able to run their business the best way they see fit. And that causes concern to us at the chamber.”

Kershner said the organization would be lobbying lawmakers to oppose the wage hike.

Michael Strain, of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, wrote a rejoinder to last week’s State of the Union entitled “Now is not the time to raise the minimum wage.” It cites studies saying a raise would lead to job loss.

“Ideally our government would be implementing policies to help workers get jobs,” Strain wrote. “But surely the government should not actively increase the cost of hiring workers. An increase in the minimum wage would do exactly that by design.”

Mark Peebles, president and founder of the OinkADoodleMoo barbecue chain said an increase in the minimum wage will harm restaurants already struggling in a market where disposable income is tight.

“We operate on very thin margins, so every time the minimum wage gets raised, it does impact us,” Peebles said. “Honestly, the only way we can do it is to pass it along to the customer. It doesn’t just drive up costs of the industry, it affects everybody. Those increases, they add up over time.”

Peebles, who also sits on the board of the Ohio Restaurant Association, said about half of his company’s 25 employees receive minimum wage.

“I realize it’s hard for somebody to live on minimum wage,” he said.

But he said minimum-wage jobs are good for some segments of the work force, including high school and college students and stay-at-home moms looking for extra income.

Raising the wage, Peebles said, “actually hurts people making minimum wage in the first place because it costs them more to take their family out to eat. Having the government legislate that we have to pay out more affects even those young people who want to go out to eat, go to the movies.”
Now the facts:
Advocates, however, say the hike will not only help workers who are struggling the most, but that it will also boost the economy. And, they say, it has the support of a broad coalition of voters.

A nationwide survey of likely voters conducted last February by Lake Research Partners found better than 3-to-1 support for increasing the minimum wage. Close to 70 percent supported the move while 22 percent opposed, with a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

In 2006, just before the minimum was raised the last time, a Gallup poll found 83 percent approving a hike while 14 percent opposed.

Doug Hall, a Washington-based director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network, has co-authored a study that found a raise to $9.80, as was proposed last summer by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would have resulted in raises to 28 million workers, would have boosted the economy (Gross Domestic Product) by close to $40 billion and would have created about 100,000 new jobs over the three-year phase-in period.

Although the president’s proposal doesn’t go as high, Hall, whose organization is part of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said his preliminary estimates show a boost to the economy of between $12 billion and $14 billion, and an increase of at least 100,000 jobs.

That many jobs is a drop in the bucket for a country with a job deficit of 12 million, he said, “but the most significant thing about that number is that it’s not negative.”

The most immediate effects of a minimum wage hike, Hall said, would be to improve the lives of those at the bottom of the pay scale and allow them to spend more money in the local economies on the things they need.

“First, and the most obvious, it puts additional money in the hands of the very folks who are the most vulnerable and have been struggling the most. For those folks, an extra $1 an hour or $1.75 an hour that turns into real money, that’s pretty significant.”


Rob Zerban is in the process of deciding whether or not to run against Paul Ryan again in 2014. When Ryan goes on TV and babbles nonsense about how raising the minimum wage harms working families, it pushes Zerban towards running. And we hope he will. This morning he expressed a very different perspective on the minimum wage than Ryan's:
"Ryan and the GOP can't relate to working families and those that struggle to earn a living wage. They fight at every turn for greedy corporate CEOs, and Wall Street bankers that drove our country in to recession and forced record numbers of families onto assistance programs. Then Ryan and the GOP want to punish the victims for the criminal acts that were perpetuated upon them. It is no wonder why the GOP-controlled House can't pass an increase in the minimum wage or the Violence Against Women Act and other meaningful legislation that help people. This is a perfect example of how out of touch Ryan and today's GOP are with American society."

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At 5:51 AM, Blogger Scott said...

"There has been class warfare going on," Buffett, 81, said in a Sept. 30 interview with Charlie Rose on PBS. It's just that my class is winning. And my class isn't just winning, I mean we're killing them."

"While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks," Buffett wrote in a Sunday New York Times Op-ed.

"One reason companies are so profitable is that they're paying employees less than they ever have as a share of GDP. And that, in turn, is one reason the economy is so weak: Those "wages" are other companies' revenue.
In short, our current system and philosophy is creating a country of a few million overlords and 300+ million serfs." Blodget


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