Whatever happened to the Dems and the minimum wage?

It's a genuine question: the record shows that, in the first flush of GOP success in finally wresting control of Congress away from the Dem, a bill which (among other things) increased the minimum wage passed the House 354-72 and the Senate 76-22. With such guys as Thurmond and Frist voting for it.

Even Kerry, in his Our Plan For America, said (p78) he planned to increase the minimum wage to $7.00 an hour by 2007. (Which is almost upon us.)

Yet I get the impression (it's as scientific as that!) that Dems in general aren't terribly keen about discussing the issue.

As if it's a negative for the November elections, or in general.

I'm not saying that, even if the Dems get both houses this year, it would be possible to pass an increase over Bush's veto. (Though - 76-22, for Christ's sake!)

But, in terms of agenda-setting for 08, you'd have thought it would be up there, rather than buried in the small print.

On a wider point - it meshes with the extraordinarily tentative relationship between the Dems and the unions right now (and for some time past). I get the feeling that neither party wants to get anywhere near to the other.

The Stern/Sweeney pre-civil-war doesn't help. And, from what I pick up, some unions still bear the taint of racketeering and organized crime (with what justification I know not).

But the mutual benefit from the relationship (at least potentially) seems so enormous that it's bizarre that it should be frozen like this.

Or perhaps I'm missing something. (Wouldn't be the first time!)

Update [2006-3-19 13:47:54 by skeptic06]:

Edwards is taking up the cudgel for the minimum wage, it seems.

It's fair to note that the bill, HR 3448, which contained the 1996 minimum wage increase, also contained a load of corporate welfare in the form of assorted tax breaks. (A Postpiece explains.)

A quote:

By the time the bill became law, it was "an ugly little piece of work that was welcomed on both sides of the aisle," said Rob Shapiro, vice president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.

So it was a piece of Congressional whoring? At least the hi-jinks benefited the poor as well as the rich.

Not really Robin Hood. But, then, wasn't Robin Hood mythical?

(This CRS Report from 2000 has useful data.)

I note that the original value of the minimum wage set under the Fair Labor Standards Act (effective October 1938) was 25 cents an hour.

Apparently, adjusting by the CPI to 2004 (latest the page gives) gives $3.34; by the unskilled wages index, $7.27; and, as a share of GDP, $34.07. Using the same gizmo, $5.15 in 1996 was worth in 2004, by the same measures, respectively $6.20, $6.58 and $7.73.

You do the math!

Tags: Andy Stern, Democrats, frist, John Edwards, John Sweeney, Kerry, minimum wage, Unions (all tags)

Comments

3 Comments

Dems and the minimum wage?

I agree - this shioudl be front and center in the Dem agenda, like the Living wage is in the Green Party agenda, but Dems don't seem to stand for much these days, aside from opposition to the Rethugs.

by brooklyngreenie 2006-03-19 12:20PM | 0 recs
Minimum Wage

I think the party and its candidates should be advocating a fifty cent increase every two years for the next ten years, with an inflation review and increase every three years thereafter.  That will help bring the working poor back into the middle class.

by Demo Dan in Dayton 2006-03-19 02:11PM | 0 recs
LET JUSTICE ROLL

The LET JUSTICE ROLL Living Wage Campaign, a nonpartisan program of more than sixty faith-based and community-based organizations, works in support of federal legislation to raise the federal minimum wage and state legislation and ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage in selected states.

LET JUSTICE ROLL

by Jeff Sinnard 2006-03-19 07:22PM | 0 recs

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