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Friday, October 28, 2016

It’s nothing short of a miracle: The fact that, after three years of lurching from one fiscal crisis to another, a badly divided Congress, in the waning days of 2013, was able to come together and agree on a budget with strong bipartisan support. True, in terms of substance, it wasn’t much of a deal. But the fact that, given all we’ve been through, they were able to reach any deal at all was itself a big deal.

That agreement was only struck, of course, because Speaker John Boehner — in even more of a miracle — finally summoned enough nerve to stand up to the minority Tea Party members of his own caucus. Not only that, he defied those extremist, anti-any-deal-Obama-would-sign know-nothings — and politically survived! Suddenly, congressional watchers — from President Obama on down — felt a flutter of hope in their hearts. If Congress, with Boehner’s new-found courage, could reach a budget deal in 2013, just imagine all the other unresolved issues they might be able to agree on in 2014. In a flight of optimism before leaving for Hawaii, President Obama told us White House reporters that he even predicted that 2014 would be a “breakthrough” year.

We’ll find out soon enough, when Congress meets its first real test after returning to town: legislation to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009, under legislation signed by President George W. Bush. The fact that almost 28 million American workers still struggle with a full-time job paying only $7.25 an hour is a national disgrace. At that rate, they take home only $15,080 per year, well below the federal poverty level of $23,550 for a family of four.

Nobody can support a family at that level, and everybody knows it. Thirteen states raised their minimum wage as of January 1, making a total of 21 states now paying more than the federal minimum. As many as 11 states and the District of Columbia are expected to follow in 2014, according to the National Employment Law Project. In November, Gallup found that more than three-quarters of Americans support an increase in the minimum wage, including 70 percent of moderates, 64 percent of Independents, and 57 percent of Republicans.

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    Raising the minimum wage may be the first test of the alleged post-gridlock Congress, but the first reminder of what is ahead may very well be the U.S. Supreme Court decision to stop same-sex marriage in Utah. That decision, worthy of neanderthals, remind us of what is at stake in 2014, 2016, and every single election in years to come. The suspension of same-sex marriage in Utah may be temporary, but it shows how far the ultra conservative movement, and some Justices, are willing to go on issues that should not even elicit a word.
    As for the minimum wage, suffice it to say that it is an embarrassment and, again, a demonstration of how far our special interests and their minions in Congress are willing to go to accumulate wealth at the expense of the middle class and the poor. The time to send our elitist elected officials an unmistakable message is now. The USA is not Bangladesh, and we don’t have to drop our standard of living or forgo basic necessities to be able to prosper and compete.

  • Bill Thompson

    Just think about where we are politically in this country. In the GOP’s mind any compromise is seen as a big deal, compromise without the threat of shutting the government down is seen as progress. The center line has shifted so far to the right that we applaud communication across the aisle as a sign of progress. Make no mistake there was only one motive for the GOP to cooperate right now and that is the 2014 elections. They need to look competent especially after what they did with the government shutdown. In the way it was played in the media Baynor looks like a leader once again, unbelievable.

    The GOP will continue to hammer away on social issues and play the religious right like a fiddle. And get their constituents to vote against their own best interest. Now is the time the Democratic leadership has to come to the forefront and advocate for higher minimum wage and domestic policies to put people back to work, infrastructure being number one. Roads, bridges, airports, seaports, upgrading the electrical grid to make it terrorist proof, probably the single most vulnerable part of our infrastructure in America today, upgrading air traffic control to a GPS system, are in dire need of implementation. This is clearly the path forward to financial security for this country and putting tens of millions of hard-working people back to work.

  • howa4x

    This is why we need a strong progressive wing of the democratic party to emerge led by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown. Currently the senate and house democrats respond only to right wing agendas. A progressive wing would be a force to move the conversation back to the center, and if income inequality is going to be the agenda you need shock troops to take on the TP and evangelicals head on. Also it would force democrats to grow a backbone and fight.

  • Helen

    Most of these coments is enough to make an intelligent person want to puke!…….Not only want to, have to….excuse me while I puke!!!!

  • Budjob

    As an Ohioan,if the voters in John Boneheads district even consider putting that man??!! back in office,we deserve everything WE don’t get!!!