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The Dems Have The Power To Increase The Minimum Wage-- But Do They Have The Will?

Another reminder: when the House Democrats passed the $15 minimum wage in 2019, only 6 Democrats voted against it-- all conservative Blue Dogs. This is what happened to each the following year



  • Anthony Brindisi (NY)-- DEFEATED FOR REELECTION

  • Xochitl Torres Small (NM)-- DEFEATED FOR REELECTION


  • Kurt Schrader (OR)-- PRIMARIED (And round 2 is coming)

And now the battle moves to the Senate, where McConnell, never allowed the House bill to get a hearing, let alone a vote. It is part of the Biden-Bernie COVID-rescue package, a reconciliation bill that need only pass with 51 votes... so not destined for death at the hands of a conservative filibuster. But... there are two right-wing, anti-worker, fake-Democrats-- Manchin and, worse, Sinema-- who have pledged to kill it.

Wall Street banksters and the Wall Street Journal are opposed and screaming that it isn't bipartisan of the Democrats to try to pass it. But the first battle is being waged inside the Democratic Party where the Republican wing of the party has the knives out against the working class.

Over the weekend, the Washington Post ran a piece by Alex Leary noting that "Republicans, who no longer control the White House or either chamber of Congress, are now divided between those who back Trump and those who wish he would fade away. For many, the path to recovering power will mean uniting those two factions around a common cause." Could that common Republican cause be uniting with conservative Democrats to kill the minimum wage increase, something that would kill any chance the Democrats might have for retaining congressional majorities in the midterms? Even though large majorities of voters back the increase, Democrats-- especially of the right-of-center Bidenesque ilk-- cringe when they hear Republicans shrieking about "Socialism!!!" and "lurching to the left."

This morning, The Hill gave a run down of the key players in the Senate battle, Bernie, chair of the Senate budget committee, first and foremost. He's vowing to fight on the beaches, fight on the landing grounds, fight in the fields and in the streets, fight in the hills and to never surrender to keep it in the bill. The biggest ally: the unions.

The Hill noted that "The AFL-CIO, a key constituency for Democrats, has been one of the loudest groups calling for a $15 minimum wage. The labor organization is keeping the pressure on Congress to deliver, with President Richard Trumka hitting cable news to tout the benefits of a wage increase. 'It would actually help millions of workers out there right now,' he recently told CNBC. Trumka added that the economy would also benefit because those workers would boost consumer demand and, in turn, create new jobs. 'Working people have waited long enough. This overdue raise will bolster the economy, reduce poverty, and ensure working families have the baseline economic security we deserve. Whatever it takes, our members expect Congress to get this done,' Bill Samuel, AFL-CIO director of government affairs, told The Hill this past week."

The conservative side of the case is being made-- as it always has been-- by the Chamber of Commerce, whose new CEO, Suzanne Clark, told Fox Business last week that "we don't support a $15 minimum wage and are hopeful that that's not in the final package. This should be a package that's about helping American families right now. This should be about a package that's getting targeted, temporary, timely relief to the people that are most hurting." There's always a reason for conservatives blood-suckers to keep ripping off workers. And, of course, those conservative blood suckers have bought themselves plenty of puppets in Congress-- and entire party and a good part of the other. Putative Democrat Joe Manchin (WV) thinks its fine if New York and New Jersey and Washington and California want to pay their workers $15/hour but he has gone on record to say that West Virginia workers deserve no more than $11. West Virginians-- especially Fox-brainwashed ones-- love him for it. Sinema is psychotic and a worse problem that Manchin because she doesn't operate from any kind of values platform, just from attention-craving literal insanity.

Conservatives are trying to dub right-of-center corporate whore Chris Coons as the ultimate arbiter in the matter. Coons is close to Biden. Coons is anti-worker and his voting record in the Senate is the 12th most conservative of any Democrat in that chamber. (Sinema is #1, Manchin #2, but they all sport "F" grades from ProgressivePunch.) Biden himself is a tepid supporter of working Americans-- a loud cheerleader on the outside, always looking for a way out beneath the surface. He's perfectly happy to let the minimum wage increase go as long as he doesn't get the blame. It's up to Ron Klain to keep it in the bill. Remember, anyone who says it should be removed from reconciliation is consigning it to the morgue because the GOP has every intention of filibustering it and conservatives like Sinema, Coons, Manchin and Biden know this perfectly well.

Schumer is in an awkward position because if he-- surreptitiously, of course-- allows the minimum wage increase to be taken out of the bill, it will make a serious and costly primary against him even more likely. The Hill added that "Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian, will play a decisive role in determining whether the minimum wage increase can be passed as part of the budget reconciliation process. The main hurdle for Democrats backing the minimum wage increase is whether its inclusion complies with the Byrd Rule. The rule details requirements for protecting what legislation can be passed through the reconciliation process. MacDonough will soon find herself in an unenviable position, one that led to one of her predecessors getting ousted. In 2001, during the debate over former President George W. Bush’s proposed tax cuts, then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) removed the parliamentarian following a dispute over whether the plan qualified for reconciliation."

This morning, the Washington Post ran a piece by Griff Witte about how more and more Republicans-- albeit not the partisan hacks in Congress tribe-- are supporting the Biden rescue package, bring on a new way at looking at what is bipartisanship. "Republicans in Congress overwhelmingly oppose the relief bill," wrote Witte, "casting it as bloated and budget-busting, with some heaping particular scorn on a measure to send $350 billion in assistance to states and cities. Should Biden go ahead without their approval, GOP leaders say, it will prove that his mantra of bipartisanship rings hollow. But to many Republicans at city halls and statehouses across the country, the relief package looks very different. Instead of the 'blue-state bailout' derided by GOP lawmakers, Republican mayors and governors say they see badly needed federal aid to keep police on the beat, to prevent battered Main Street businesses from going under and to help care for the growing ranks of the homeless and the hungry... Biden on Friday highlighted the rift, inviting a bipartisan group of mayors and governors to the White House to discuss the specifics of the bill. 'You folks are all on the front lines and dealing with the crisis since day one,” he told the group, which included the Republican governors of Maryland and Arkansas, as well as Republican mayors. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R) later told reporters from the podium in the White House briefing room that he had spoken with Biden and Vice President Harris more in the first several weeks of their administration 'than I had spoken to the prior administration in the entirety.'... [I]ndividual Republican governors have spoken up to back Biden’s relief plan, which can be enacted without GOP support. That includes moderates such as Maryland’s Larry Hogan, as well as Trump-aligned conservatives such as West Virginia’s Jim Justice, who has urged Congress to 'go big.' Suarez, the Miami mayor, has pushed the same message and has put pressure on Florida’s two Republican senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, to follow through... In an interview, Suarez said both senators have been receptive to his message in private, though they also expressed concerns about the price tag-- concerns that Suarez said he could understand, to a point. 'Under normal circumstances, this kind of government spending would be completely unacceptable,' he said. 'But this is a crisis.'"

For workers living on $7.25/hour for decades, every day is a crisis.



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