Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Dem Colleen Hanabusa-- Fighting On The Wrong Side Of The Minimum Wage Battle… As Usual


I have no idea why, but corrupt conservative New Dem Colleen Hanabusa has me on her mailing list. Usually I just delete all the EMILY's List-generated spam she sends out, but this morning I opened one because "minimum wage" was in the subject line. A consistent shill for Big Business and K Street lobbyists, I wanted to see if she was using Republican talking points in her argument. As it turned out, she claimed to be in favor of raising the minimum wage-- just not as much as any other Democrats! President Obama and the Senate Dems are willing to settle for $10.10 an hour, which is barely enough for a family to live on. Hanabusa picked another number out of the hat: $9.25, the one being pushed by local business interests who are trying to keep the raise as low as they can. As usual, Hanabusa is eager to throw ordinary working families under the bus for potential campaign donors. This is from her e-mail:
The minimum wage is not enough to keep a Hawaii family from living in poverty.

However, by raising the minimum wage in Hawaii to at least $9.25, we can lift a mother of two above the federal poverty line.

Raising the minimum wage helps Hawaii families. Stand with me today: call on our Congress and Hawaii to raise the minimum wage.

…Hawaii’s poverty rate of 17.3% makes us the 9th poorest state in the nation. One in five of Hawaii’s children under the age of six-- 22,000 keiki-- now live in low-income working families.

Please, join our fight to achieve fair wages for Hawaii workers. Stand with me in supporting a raise for our working poor and our working women.
Bart Dame, the head of the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii and a long time grassroots progressive leader, was steaming when he led a comment on the Civil Beat discussion of the minimum wage issue. Referring to the same Hanabusa e-mail that I got:
Here is why this message sucks.

There is currently no bill alive in the Hawaii legislature calling for a minimum wage as low as $9.25. The argument had been between $9.50 and $10.10 up until a couple of weeks ago, when it narrowed to $10 vs $10.10. Yesterday, the House agreed to the Senate's call for $10.10.

So Congresswoman Hanabusa's information is a few weeks out of date. But even going back to the debate occurring a few weeks ago, when she weighs in (belatedly) she supports a figure LOWER than what is being argued?

She says: "...raising the minimum wage in Hawaii to at least $9.25, we can lift a mother of two above the federal poverty line."

Nice goal, but where does this claim come from? Does no one on her campaign own a calculator?

Here's the ACTUAL math:

Minimum wage at $9.25 x 2,000 hours = $18,500

Federal Poverty Level for a family of 3 in Hawaii for 2014 is $22,470.

If Congresswoman Hanabusa is truly hoping to lift a working mother, with two children, above the poverty level, she would be calling for a minimum wage of at least $11.24, NOT $9.25.

$22,470 / 2000 working hours = $11.235 an hour.

Yet, Rep. Hanabusa, takes the unusual step of intervening in a local legislative debate to give legitimacy for a $9.25 wage?

Further, she claims this would be a "living wage." Er, no. Those of us who have been working to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 wish we could be advocating for a "living wage" instead of only a hike in the minimum wage, which remains significantly below what can honestly be called a "living wage."

Given Rep. Hanabusa's assessment that $9.25 is an adequate "living wage" for a Hawaii mother of two working fulltime, how are we to interpret her claim she supports raising the Federal Minimum Wage? The Democratic Senate Majority favors a bill by Senator Tom Harkin, which calls for raising the minimum wage to $10.10. Since Hawaii has a cost of living 55% higher than the national average and Hanabusa has told us $9.25 is adequate, where does she stand on the Senate Democrats (and President Obama)'s for $10.10? If elected to the Senate, would she work to weaken the push for a higher minimum wage at the Federal Level as she has just done here, at the State level?

The glib platitudes in her email notwithstanding, the actual details of her proposal shows how out of touch she is with the realities facing Hawaii's working people. And it shows an amazing lack of professional among her campaign staff that such glaring factual errors could go out without any of them catching the mistakes. But then, the salaries they are being paid are also astronomic compared to those facing that "mother of two" in Hawaii.
It's this kind of crap from Hanabusa-- and this has been going on for the entire length of her sordid career in politics-- that made it natural for Blue America to endorse Brian Schatz. His take on the minimum wage is starkly at odds with Hanabusa's. His own e-mail on the topic in January reminded voters that "Here in Hawaii, we have an incredibly high cost of living; Honolulu was recently ranked as having the least affordable housing market out of any city in the entire United States, and the 3rd least affordable market in the world. With 14,000 workers in Hawaii earning the federal minimum wage at $7.25 an hour or less, they just can’t make ends meet. For workers earning minimum wage-- many of whom live below the poverty line-- one or two or even three minimum wage jobs just can’t keep their families afloat. People who show up and work hard every day, providing vital services we need like caring for the elderly, fixing cars, and ringing up cash registers, should be able to support their families. In order to keep these families afloat, we’ve got to raise the federal minimum wage for millions of American workers… These people work hard, and play by the rules, and they deserve to be able to support their families-- and raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour is essential."

This afternoon, the White House released a fact sheet laying out the case for increasing the minimum wage to $10.10. The fact sheet points out that there are 118,200 Hawaiians depending on this, something that Brian and the President care a greta deal about. Hanabusa… not so much.

The minimum wage is a critical tool for ensuring that hard work is rewarded with fair pay, but its real value has been allowed to erode substantially despite decades of economic growth. The president believes raising the minimum wage will help ensure opportunity for all Americans, and that’s why he has led by example signing an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for new federal contract workers.  Now Congress should act to raise the minimum wage for all workers and pass the Harkin/Miller bill which would raise incomes for millions of Americans in every state and reduce poverty.

In real terms, the minimum wage is worth less today than it was at the beginning of 1950.
Since 1950, real per capita gross domestic product (GDP) has increased 246 percent, and labor productivity has grown 278 percent, but the minimum wage’s real value has fallen.
Relative to the mean wage, the minimum wage peaked in 1968 at 54 percent but had fallen to only 35 percent in February 2014.
If no action is taken, the real value of the minimum wage will decline even further.
In 2014 alone, the minimum wage is projected to lose 1.7 percent of its value. For a full-time worker, that represents nearly $250, enough to pay for a month of groceries or a month of utilities.
Over the next five years, the real value of the minimum wage is projected to decline by 10 percent, or over $1,400 dollars of purchasing power for a full-time worker.
Increasing the purchasing power of minimum wage workers helps stimulate the economy. Research has shown that these workers spend the additional income they receive when the minimum wage is increased.
Over 28 million workers would benefit from the Harkin-Miller proposal to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Women (55 percent) and people with family income below $35,000 (46 percent) would make up substantial shares of the beneficiaries. One quarter of potential beneficiaries are caring for children.
The vast majority of people who would see their wages go up are adults in the prime of their working years, not teenagers, as some have claimed. Only 12 percent of beneficiaries would be under 20 years old.
About 12 million people in poverty would see their families’ incomes increase due to this proposal. It would lift 2 million of those people out of poverty.
At least 30,000 workers in every state would benefit from raising the Harkin-Miller proposal. In eighteen states, at least half a million workers will benefit.
If you'd like to see the minimum wage boosted to a reasonable level… well that doesn't happen by letting Republicans-- and Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, like Hanabusa-- get control. You can help Brian win reelection here on the Blue America page.

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