Monday, September 19, 2016

Does The Democratic Party Still Stand For Working Families? That Depends How You Define "Democratic Party"


Many of us are watching the clock tick down to November 8, election day. But millions of American workers have their eyes set a few weeks further down the calendar to December 1 when a Department of Labor rule kicks in that will double the salary threshold-- from from $23,660 to $47,476-- at which workers get overtime pay for overtime work. Republicans, of course, are up in arms. But so is the Democratic wing of the Republicans Party. Four of the worst Blue Dogs, ringleader Kurt Schrader (OR) and fellow conservatives, Henry Cuellar (TX), Collin Peterson (MN) and Jim Cooper (TN), all of whom are reliable supporters of Paul Ryan's reactionary austerity agenda, introduced a bill, H.R. 5813, to postpone the rule, stretching out the help the bill offers workers until December, 2019. 5 conservative co-sponsors signed on last week, Blue Dog Gwen Graham (FL) and 4 Republicans, Jeff Fortenberry (NE), Tom Emmer (MN), Jeff Miller (FL) and David Jolly (FL).

The bill is now with John Kline's Committee on Education and the Workforce, where we can count on progressive committee members Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Mark Takano (D-CA) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) to put up a massive fight. But they are outnumbered by 22 extremely anti-worker Republicans who very smoothly align with the Blue Dogs and New Dems. Schrader announced that his opposition to the new rule stems from having "heard from business owners and their employees who are worried about implementing this increase overnight. Without sufficient time to plan for the increase, cuts and demotions will become inevitable, and workers will actually end up making less than they made before. It’s long past time we strengthen overtime pay protections for American workers in a meaningful and effective way." Typical textbook Republican scare tactics that are always puked up any time there's a proposal made to lessen the economic burdens on working families.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, what Big Business and the corporate world like so much about Schrader's approach is that it would eliminate the rule’s indexation of the threshold, which would raise it automatically every three years, as wages for salaried workers rise, reproducing "the very disaster for working people the Department of Labor is seeking to prevent: an inevitable and significant loss of guaranteed overtime coverage due to inflation and wage growth."
Failure to adequately update the salary threshold over 1975–2015 caused the share of the salaried workforce that was guaranteed overtime pay to fall from 49.6 percent to just 9.5 percent in 2015. Had 49.6 percent coverage been maintained, some 26.6 million workers would have been covered, rather than the scant 5.1 million who actually were covered in 2015. Raising the salary threshold to $913 per week in 2015 would have allowed 17.6 million employees to enjoy overtime protection (12.5 million of whom would have newly obtained protection), but it would not restore the level of protection provided in 1975.

...[I]ndexing the salary threshold, as provided by DOL’s new rule, allows the share of salaried workers enjoying overtime protection to remain at or near 32.7 percent. The number of workers protected increases as the salaried workforce grows, rising to 20.5 million by 2035. Without indexation, however, the share of the salaried workforce guaranteed overtime pay would decline each year, falling to 23.1 percent in 2025 and just 16.1 percent by 2035. If Rep. Schrader’s bill were enacted, by 2035 there would be 10.4 million fewer salaried workers covered by overtime protection because of the failure to index the salary threshold. Lack of indexation would cut in half the share of the salaried workforce provided overtime protection, which would fall from 32.7 percent to just 16.1 percent (20.4 million versus 10.1 million).

So who's this Kurt Schrader fellow? The head of the Blue Dogs and a member of the New Dems, we talked about Schrader quite a bit last spring when he was being primaried by Berniecrat Dave McTeague back in Oregon. As we pointed out at the time, Schrader went even further than many Republicans care to go in his zeal to wreck Social Security and Medicare. Back in early 2013, Schrader offered an amendment to accept the Simpson Bowles proposals that do just cut Social Security and Medicare benefits and raise the retirement age. 54 disgraceful excuses for Democrats-- mostly New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- went along. Schrader's amendment failed 75-348.

Schrader represents a solidly blue district which Obama won 53-44% in 2008 and 50-47% in 2012. There are 7 counties in the district and in the Oregon primary in May, Bernie won all 7. These were Bernie's wins by county:
Benton- 61.2%
Clackamas- 51.5%
Lincoln- 53.7%
Marion- 53.0%
Multnomah- 57.0%
Polk- 54.5%
Tillamook- 53.8%
On the same day, Berniecrat Dave McTeague, a former state legislator, went up against Schrader. The huge Bernie support just didn't bother to vote or didn't bother to vote for McTeague. Schrader win 67,124 (72.6%) to 25,289 (27.4%). There's no excuse for that. For a Bernie voter, Kurt Schrader has no saving graces on any level.

By the way, among the supporters of Schrader's amendment to gut Social Security and Medicare were many of the usual scum always looking for chances to lick the asses of the corporate campaign donors, including several Blue Dogs and New Dems up on the ballot in November, like Loretta Sanchez, who's running for California's open Senate seat, Chris Van Hollen, the Democratic candidate for Maryland senator, as well as recently defeated conservaDems trying to weasel their ways back into Congress-- Colleen Hanabusa (HI), Joe Garcia (FL) and Pete Gallego (TX). Electing more of these garbage-Democrats is the last thing we should be doing, but the DCCC and the California Democratic Party are delighted to be backing Lou Correa, a former state legislator who was widely considered the most right-wing Democrat in Sacramento (and one of the most corrupt). The progressive mayor of Garden Grove, Bao Nguyen, also made it through the primary and will be duking it out with Correa in a Dem vs Dem election November 8-- one real progressive Democrat against one from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. A few minutes ago he told us that "These corporate Blue Dog Democrats are eagerly pumping money into my opponent Lou Correa's campaign. We certainly have every reason to expect that my opponent will do the bidding of corporations in Congress if elected, as he has done in the past as a state legislator. What we really need is someone in Congress who will protect the pro-worker agenda that so many of us in the labor and progressive movement have fought so hard to achieve. I've been that champion for working families as Mayor of Garden Grove and as a labor organizer. If the people of the 46th Congressional District elect me in November, one of the first laws I would vote against is anything that would compromise or threaten Obama's overtime rule for salaried workers."

Only 21 Republicans voted for the Blue Dog anti-Social Security amendment, including Pat Meehan from the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Funny, he doesn't tell the voters in PA-07 that he voted to raise the retirement age and cut their benefits. Mary Ellen Balchunis, the progressive Democrat running against him this year, expected nothing more from Meehan. "I wasn't surprised when Pat Meehan voted to support cuts to Social Security and Medicare because he told us he would do that when he ran as a Tea Party candidate in 2010. Pat Meehan thinks that if he says he is a moderate enough times, the voters will believe it, but votes like this tell the truth. The real Pat Meehan has also voted to cut taxes for the wealthiest of Americans, to cut healthcare and cancer screenings for women, and end Medicare as we know it. If Pat Meehan was a true moderate he would stop prioritizing tax breaks for the rich and start looking out for seniors."

Please help replace Meehan with Mary Ellen and help keep Correa out of Congress-- he did enough damage to working families when he was in Sacramento-- by electing Bao Nguyen instead of him. You'll find them both by tapping the thermometer below:
Goal Thermometer

UPDATE: Certain States...

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin are suing the government to stop the overtime rule. What do all these states have in common? No, they weren't all former slave-holding states that started the Civil War-- though most of the former slave-holding states that started the Civil War signed on to the suit. This list is a list of states that have Republican governors. Don't people in these states want to get overtime pay for overtime work?

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At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Sanchez is running for Senate, not Governor of CA.

At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, at least there is the progressive wing of the Democratic party. There is no such animal in the Republican party. Roosevelt was only able to do what he did because things were so incredibly bad at the time. People were starving in the streets. Things are not bad enough (yet) for enough people to care vehemently and to rise up and vote progressive. Also, the right wing press has hoodwinked way too many. It is no wonder the Republicans do not support education - they want everyone too ignorant to know what is really going on and to be unable to think critically.

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous AntiSpin said...

Kurt Schrader does not represent a solidly blue district. Its major-party registration is exactly even.

And the reason that McTeague did so poorly against Schrader in the recent primary is that he didn't campaign. I live in the district, all my friends are political activists, and no one that I know ever saw or heard from him.


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