Whatever happened to the Dems and the minimum wage?
by skeptic06, Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 08:02:20 AM EST
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.
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!