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Republicans are the party of...?
It's about that time again. Just before the August recess and Congressional Republicans are trying to get something accomplished. However, when I was reading the Times this morning, I was perplexed. Instead of the usual push for a ban on gay marraige or the triumphant return of the flag burning issue, we have minimum wage on the floor possibly tomorrow.
Says the Times:
"Mr. Boehlert and others have argued that Republican support for an increase in the federal wage is essential to shore up the party’s strength among blue-collar and low-income workers who could decide critical House contests in the Northeast and Midwest.
The willingness of the leadership to relent on a wage vote after months of reluctance illustrates Republican nervousness about the November elections, and a desire to break for the August recess on a politically positive note. Although many states now require higher wage levels, the federal minimum wage has remained at $5.15 an hour since 1997."
A curious realization that $5.15 times 40 times 52 is well below the poverty line. Senator Kennedy nicely illustrates the difference in the party lines here in the Post article covering the bill, asserting "we should be rising above politics" on such important issues.
And this is an important issue. The Economic Policy Instute has a quick snapshot showing that almost 60% of the workforce is covered at the state level by a higher minimum wage. Even at the city level, just two days ago the Chicago City Council voted to up the minimum wage gradually to $10/hour for certain stores in the city.
But turning back to politics, minimum wage simply shows the fracturing of the GOP - a party that quickly raised it's own salary, yet struggles to raise the ceiling for those at the bottom. Certainly not a party willing to rise above politics and do what's right.