Thursday, May 1, 2014

Making Them Own It

So yesterday, the Republicans in the Senate filibustered (of course) a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage. Despite the fact that there is little evidence suggesting that increasing the minimum wage will increase unemployment; and despite the fact that the minimum wage has not kept pace with worker productivity or inflation; and despite the fact that increasing the minimum wage would increase consumer spending, thus serving as an economic stimulus, the GOP, as ever, remains the party of NO (unless, more tax cuts for the top brackets are on the table, natch).

Aside from all of these crazy, evidence-based arguments for increasing the minimum wage, the moral argument that people working 40 hours a week deserve to make more than $15,000 a year is a strong one, and one I am glad to see the Democrats making:
With the Republican-led filibuster of a Senate proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 on Wednesday, Democrats moved swiftly to frame the vote as an example of the gulf that exists between the two parties on matters of economic fairness and upward mobility.
The question is not just one of money, they said, but of morality. And in doing so the Democrats returned to the themes that were successful for their party and President Obama in 2012 when they convinced swing voters that Democrats were mindful of the best interests of all Americans — not just those who are powerful and wealthy.
A majority of citizens agrees with a program of economic populism that directly addresses the income inequality and lapses in public investment that have dominated our politics since the Reagan revolution.

The Democratic party seems to be waking up from the "free-market Jesus solves all our problems" mentality that has been horrible for the world economy and sells out traditional Democratic constituencies. Wall Street money is awesome and all, but hedge fund managers only have so many votes (for now, at least). I think it is both smart policy and smart politics to craft and run on an agenda designed to help the bulk of Americans.
The minimum wage plan is an underpinning of both the president’s economic agenda and the plan drawn up by Senate Democrats to force Republicans to take votes on a variety of pocketbook issues. One of those, a bill that Democrats said would help close the pay gap between men and women, was defeated in a Republican filibuster a few weeks ago.
The Democrats’ plan, called “A Fair Shot for Everyone,” also includes a bill to help make college more affordable, the next one that is likely to come to a vote, and other measures that would close tax loopholes that benefit corporations with business overseas and provide family and medical leave for workers.
Polling shows that Americans overwhelmingly agree that the minimum wage should go up; 62 percent favor an increase to $10.10,a New York Times/CBS News poll found in February.  
The GOP has shown itself to be always and only in favor of policies that tilt the playing field even further in favor of the wealthy and powerful, and it is about time that the Democrats make them own that stance:
 Speaking from the White House shortly after the measure was defeated 54 to 42, with 60 votes needed to advance, Mr. Obama admonished Republicans and called on voters to punish them at the polls in November. “If there’s any good news here, it’s that Republicans in Congress don’t get the last word on this issue, or any issue,” Mr. Obama said. “You do, the American people, the voters.”
“If your member of Congress doesn’t support raising the minimum wage,” he added, “you have to let them know they’re out of step, and that if they keep putting politics ahead of working Americans, you’ll put them out of office.”

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