Wednesday, April 30, 2014

No Pay? No Problem.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate Wednesday failed to overcome a GOP filibuster of a bill which would have gradually raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10  The final vote was 54 to 42, with Tennessee's Bob Corker the only Republican to vote to cut off debate.

The New York Times reported

Republicans accused Democrats of staging a show vote they knew would never pass.“So let’s talk about the 800-pound gorilla here in the Senate chamber,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican whip, said Wednesday morning. “This is all about politics. This is all about trying to make this side of the aisle look bad and hardhearted.”

Charles Pierce explains that Cornyn is a "jackass" because

First, this is the same John Cornyn who once got up in the Senate and opined that judges who made decisions with which he disagreed might be subject to physical violence? I think you lose your right to accuse anyone else of grandstanding after that one.

Second, the argument that Democrats were forcing Republicans to take tough show votes that make them look bad is an interesting one. Perhaps we should explore it in open debate on the Senate floor. Whoops, sorry, John Cornyn and the rest of his party made that impossible.

Third, Cornyn's statement can be reasonably be translated as, "Don't pass anything that to which the monkeyhouse on the other side of the Capitol might object." This is, of course, pretty much everything except the elevation of Jesus to the Supreme Court.

This might seem a little harsh. But it's not. Cornyn stated also “It would be great if we lived in a world where Washington dictates what wages can be, and peace, love and happiness will break out because Washington has somehow distributed free money.”

That's right- paying someone 8, 9, 10 dollars an hour for working is "free money" to the Texas senator.  But charts below from the Economic Policy Institute (via Policy Mic) indicate a)from 1948  to 2012, productivity grew 240.9% while real hourly compensation rose only 107.8%(and almost not at all since 1972) and b) if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity from 1968, the minimum wage would have been $18.30 last year.

Of course, this is no problem for most Republicans.  Wages faltering, workers falling behind? That's a benefit, not a bug.

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