The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

As Congress considers raising the minimum wage for the first time since 2009, Democrats have a golden political opportunity to pressure congressional Republicans on an issue that splits the GOP’s base — and highlights the GOP’s worst qualities.

The battle is currently being led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who have crafted a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, up from the current level of $7.25. The bill, titled the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, would immediately raise the minimum wage to $8.20 an hour, then to $9.15 an hour after one year, $10.10 an hour after two years, and tie it to the Consumer Price Index thereafter.

There is a litany of evidence backing up the value of such a proposal. The current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has lagged far behind productivity growth over the past decades, and falls short of most living wage standards. A worker employed full-time at the current minimum wage would make $15,080 for a full 52-week year, 19 percent below the poverty line for a family of three. As over 100 economists agreed in a June 2013 letter supporting a $10.50 hourly minimum wage, raising the wage “will be an effective means of improving living standards for low-wage workers and their families and will help stabilize the economy. The costs to other groups in society will be modest and readily absorbed.”

Opponents of raising the minimum wage generally argue that such a policy would hurt job growth. “When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) declared in response to President Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage at his 2013 State of the Union address. Contrary to the Speaker’s claim, however, there is little to no evidence that modest increases in the minimum wage actually eliminate jobs.

As strong as the economic case for raising the minimum wage is, however, the political case is even more persuasive. The Harkin-Miller bill has almost no chance of becoming law during the 113th Congress; it will almost certainly be blocked in the Senate, and even if Democratic leadership can round up 60 votes, the bill stands no chance in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. But the GOP could pay a steep price for killing the measure.

Americans strongly favor raising the minimum wage. According to a Hart Research Associates poll conducted in July, an overwhelming 80 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $10.10, then adjusting it for the cost of living, as the Harkin-Miller plan proposes. The basic parameters of the bill are supported by 92 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Independents, and even 62 percent of Republicans.

The poll also suggests that the issue could prove critical in the 2014 midterms. The Hart poll found that 74 percent of registered voters believe that raising the minimum wage in the next year should be an important priority for Congress, and 38 believe it is very important — 51 percent of registered voters would be more likely to support a candidate for Congress who favored raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, while just 15 percent said they would be less likely. Furthermore, 37 percent believe that — should Congress fail to raise the minimum wage this year — Republicans would be to blame. Just 15 percent would blame the Democrats.

In the wake of the Republican Party’s disastrous government shutdown strategy, it finds itself in a very precarious political position — especially on the critical question of whether they are actually interested in what’s best for the country. A high-profile act of obstruction to block a minimum-wage hike — a raise that is supported by four-fifths of Americans, and almost two-thirds of Republicans — would surely compound that problem. If Democrats want to paint congressional Republicans as elitists who are out of step with the needs of average Americans, this is how they do it.

On Friday, the Obama administration signaled its support for the Harkin-Miller bill, and it would be wise to be very vocal about that position. If the White House throws its full weight behind congressional Democrats’ efforts, then the minimum wage could form the backbone of an effective economic pitch for the 2014 midterms.

Photo: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights via Flickr

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}