Are Conservatives About To Get Hoist On Their Own Anti-Minimum Wage Petard?
New polling from Change Research shows that ending the filibuster is popular among voters. "Voters favor eliminating the filibuster by an 8-point margin," wrote the pollsters, "and if Republicans used the filibuster to block a $15 minimum wage, they’d support ending it by a 14-point margin ... [T]he political price Democrats will pay for bending to Republican obstruction is far greater than the price they’ll pay for changing the rules to pass legislation by a simple majority."
No doubt Team Biden's pollster is finding the same results and a graphic like this one may be putting some steel in their spines:
I'm hopeful. This morning the AP's Kevin Freking reported that Democrats aren't going to dilly-dally with conservative obstructionists over the $15 minimum wage. Despite lots of rending of clothes from "moderate" Republicans and threats of armageddon from less moderate ones, Freking wrote that "The Democratic push to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour has emerged as an early flashpoint in the fight for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, testing President Joe Biden’s ability to bridge Washington’s partisan divides as he pursues his first major legislative victory," as though bridging partisan divides-- rather than getting the legislation passed-- is somehow Biden's job. "Biden called for a $15 hourly minimum wage during his campaign and has followed through by hitching it to a measure that, among other things, calls for $1,400 stimulus checks and $130 billion to help schools reopen. Biden argues that anyone who holds a full-time job shouldn’t live in poverty, echoing progressives in the Democratic Party who are fully on board with the effort. 'With the economic divide, I mean, I want to see a $15 minimum wage. It should actually be $20,' said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)." The working class has lost billions of dollars in buying power because conservatives have blocked the minimum wage from being raised since 2009, when it was set at a puny $7.25.
Alan Grayson, who may be persuaded to take on anti-minimum wage zealot Marco Rubio next year, told me this morning that heendorsed the Fight for $15 in 2016 and that "the only reason why the GOP is against it is that they think that rich people should have ALL the money."
State Sen. Chris Larson, the strong progressive being drafted to run against Trumpist Ron Johnson next year, told me this morning that "Workers deserve to be paid what they're worth. It's beyond time for Democrats to do right by the American people and raise the minimum wage to $15/hour. If Republicans choose to stand against workers after voting for their budget-busting corporate tax break, that's on them. Their party is increasingly sliding out of relevance for the people who are doing the real work in our country. This will further galvanize that in voters minds."
Bernie says he doesn't care that these saboteurs oppose raising it now. He said the government needs to pump money into the economy to make sure "people are not working on starvation wages... [M]y Republican colleagues used reconciliation to give almost $2 trillion in tax breaks to the rich and large corporations in the midst of massive income inequality. They used reconciliation to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act and throw 32 million people off the health care they had. They used reconciliation to allow for drilling in the Arctic wilderness. You know what? I think we can use reconciliation to protect the needs of working families."
Conservatives don't agree. Some want to abolish the minimum wage altogether. Most just oppose an increase and the few who back an increase, want a much smaller one and want it phased in-- something Democrats, foolishly and for no reason that makes any political or economic sense-- have already surrendered to. Conservatives posing as "moderates" like Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and so-called Problem Solvers co-chair Tom Reed (R-NY) think they can derail the minimum wage increase by having the Democrats split off the minimum wage hike from the overall COVID-19 legislation that Bernie plans to pass through filibuster-proof budget reconciliation. That makes Republicans sad and angry.
Freking wrote that resistance from the conservatives-- especially the ones who pretend-- with media complicity-- to be "moderates," leaves the Democrats with what he calls "a stark choice: Wait and build bipartisan support for an increase"-- that will never come, not in a million years-- "or move ahead with little to no GOP backing," the only way anything that benefits working families will ever pass. Freking ventures that "Democratic leaders appear to be moving toward the latter option, with no guarantee of success. Even if raising the wage can get past procedural challenges, passage will require the support from every Democrat in the 50-50 Senate, which could be a tall order." Yes, a tall order because of one hateful psychopath in the Democratic caucus-- and that is not Joe Manchin: Kyrsten Sinema, who revels in being the center of attention even as an arch-villain.
Announcement: Blue America is looking for an opponent-- primary or general election third party-- to help drive Sinema out of politics.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the Senate as early as next week will begin taking the first steps toward getting the COVID-19 relief bill passed through the budget reconciliation process. The goal would be passage by March.
The latest sign that a $15 minimum wage is popular with voters came in November, when more than 60% of voters in conservative-leaning Florida approved an amendment to the state’s Constitution that will raise the minimum wage there from $8.56 an hour to $15 an hour by 2026.
The House passed legislation to gradually increase the minimum wage in the last Congress, but it went nowhere in the GOP-controlled Senate. Opponents argue that a large increase in the minimum wage would lead many employers to cut the number of workers they have on their payrolls. [All but one of the Democrats who opposed it in the House-- anti-worker Blue Dog Kurt Schrader of Oregon-- were defeated in November.]
A 2019 study from the Congressional Budget Office projected that an increase to $15 an hour would boost the wages of 17 million Americans. An additional 10 million workers making more than $15 an hour would see a boost as well. However, about 1.3 million workers would lose their jobs.
...Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union, said that increasing the minimum wage would benefit many of the people who have been working on the front lines of the pandemic. That’s why she supports including it in the COVID-19 relief package.
“They’ve been called essential, but they all believe they’ve been treated as expendable or sacrificial because they don’t earn enough to be able to put food on the table and keep themselves and their families safe and healthy,” Henry said.
Henry says nursing home workers, janitors, security guards and home health workers are among the union’s 2 million members.
“The real way to appreciate this work is to raise the minimum wage to $15,” she said.
Most states also have minimum wage laws. Employees generally are entitled to the higher of the two minimum wages. Currently, 29 states and Washington, D.C., have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Shervin Aazami is the progressive candidate taking on corporate careerist Brad Sherman in the San Fernando Valley next year. He spoke for most progressives when he said that "Biden must not back down from pushing for a $15 minimum wage. He must not back down from recurring $2,000 checks for the duration of the pandemic. No Democrat should back down. Why is this so hard? Why is it that we can find billions for endless wars and corporate bailouts with only a few distant mumblings about the deficit, but as soon as we're talking about relief for working class Americans, suddenly the deficit becomes paramount. Democrats have a mandate. And to be clear, $15 minimum wage is the bare minimum. Here in LA, we have tens of thousands of houseless community members because we have severe shortages of affordable housing and an extremely high cost of living. In fact, in order to avoid paying over 30% of your income to rent in LA-- the golden rule-- you would need to make nearly $38 an hour-- more than 2.5 times the $15 minimum wage."
Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd, who's running a strong primary campaign for the seat Steny Hoyer occupies while representing the K Street lobbyists, had a similar perspective: "The U.S. Senate," he said, "should end the filibuster. It’s a major relic of America’s legacy of racism, and, historically, its utility has primarily been in helping folks like John Calhoun protect slavery and in helping folks like Strom Thurmond oppose civil rights. Moreover, the filibuster is extremely undemocratic, and, currently, it really just helps Republicans block all manner of progress on things like covid-19 relief, the minimum wage, and DC Statehood. The Senate should end the filibuster, and Congress should raise the federal minimum wage to $15-- and probably even $20-- while also indexing that to inflation. Congress also should approve stimulus checks, but I don’t think they should just be one time $1,400 payments. The checks should be $2,000 monthly checks. And, finally, while I agree that Congress should provide money to assist with school reopening, local communities that have been especially hard hit by the covid-19 pandemic should not be rushed into school reopening without consideration for the concerns of teachers and families."