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Sen. Claire McCaskill
Sen. Claire McCaskill's 2006 win was helped by a minimum wage measure on the Missouri ballot.
Republicans blocking a minimum wage increase (which is to say, basically all the Republicans in Congress) might want to reflect on what happened in 2006:
Republicans might have overcome those hurdles [war in Iraq and the botched response to Hurricane Katrina] in Missouri and Montana had it not been for the minimum wage issues there. Those victories delivered the party a two-seat Senate majority.

In all, Democrats picked up U.S. House or Senate seats in five of six states where voters approved raising the wage floor in 2006.

Of course, 2006 was a wave year and yes, there were other hugely significant issues. But minimum wage remains a very popular issue, and it's going to be on the ballot in several states in 2014, including Arkansas, where Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor is campaigning on the issue even as he opposes raising the federal minimum wage. It has the potential to be a powerful turnout issue for Democrats in states with potentially close elections. But Republican opposition to requiring businesses to pay above poverty wages is so fierce that they're handing Democrats this potent weapon for November's elections.

Sign the petition: Join the call for a higher federal minimum wage.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 09:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Since all minimum wage workers have had the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    purchasing value of their pay go down since the last long ago raise, an increase that would remove Walmart and McDonald workers from food stamp eligibility would seem to be a no brainer issue. As is a tax increase on the filthy rich. They need to pound both those issues and the Big Lie sponsors of all those ads against progress, the Koch brothers. Go get em Harry Reid

    Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

    by J Edward on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 10:01:15 AM PDT

  •  The Deeper Dynamics of the $10.10 Direction (0+ / 0-)

    Dear Laura and Daily Cos Readers:

    I'm going to post a little essay I sent out to my own Email group, which extends beyond the State of Maryland, which passed a minimum wage bill on Friday, March 7 in its House of Delegates.  It passed by a 89-46 count, but severed the link to inflation for future years, carved out an exemption for a seasonal industry employing teens, and pushed the time frame out by six months.  And simultaneously, it passed, by a far wider margin, 120-13,  a bill to raise the exemption for its estate tax to $4 million, matching that of the Republican Right's successful effort in Washington several years ago.  I make a connection between the two and ponder its implications for Democrats.

    My essay, isn't however, just about Maryland.  It is about the abandoned logic of tying a just minimum wage bill to labor's missing share of national productivity gains, which is how one reaches the $15.00 to $22 dollar per hour range.  Now Maryland is suggesting that linking a positive change to inflation, "indexing," is too daring - which is also what an entirely Democratic County council did in Montgomery Co. MD in December.  

    By rejecting the missing productivity argument the left - yes I did say left - risks giving up the most powerful lever for future change on wages; now the party is signaling, in two progressive locales, one of the richest counties in the nation, and one of the most progressive states (I would qualify that, substantially) that inflation indexing is too much, too far...leaving us with what?  A "certain political time and populist gesture" based on....expediency driven by politics?  

    I signed the petition just above, because I want to be clear that those at the minimum need any help they can get, but it won't, can't,  deliver on the claims made for $10.10; I ask, is this the beginning ...or the end (because of the tactics) of wage justice in America.

    I am no armchair critic of these topics, I am directly self-interested, and like some other workers' stories posted here, I have no sick time and must work hurt and sick or lose the pay.  

    Here's the essay...


    February 27, 2014

    Dear Citizens and Elected Officials:

    As centrist Democrats fret about the possibility of a genuine left populism rising to challenge them, inside or outside the party, and members of the very top rungs of the financial elite express their feelings of persecution in national media outlets in very unsavory terms, I’ve been trying to follow the minimum wage debate here in Maryland, my home state for the past nine years.  I will quickly confess my self interest in this matter, having written about the political economy extensively over the past seven years, and also from the more recent fact that I labor at that convenient borderline of 30 hours per week at $8.75 per hour for a Fortune 100 company.  And that princely sum comes after 18 months on the job, winning an 11 cent per hour raise after my first year. Yes, I’m on my way back into the “Middle Class,” climbing the ladder of mobility rung by rung, cent by cent.

     When I first began writing about the minimum wage two years ago, I noticed that the entire discussion, even among progressives, which is where it started, was only about making up for losses to inflation since that golden baseline year for labor, 1968, But wait a minute, I objected: whatever happened to the discussion of productivity, which was absolutely and obsessively insisted upon by all the right people in the economics profession and corporate management ever since the mid-1970’s.  There could be only a downward escalator, or at best wage stagnation, unless productivity increased.  Well, I said, here we are in 2014 after  the microchip- computer, Internet and IT “revolution,”  the marvels of American invention, the unravelling of the human genome…biotech!…and the “evolution” of the lean and networked international corporation and supply chain…as Thomas Frank wrote in 2000, we would all be in “One Market Under God”…and oh yes, after all those debt fueled corporate mergers which had, as we all know by wrote, only one motivation: to make business more …productive… by the wholesale slaughter – layoffs - of those bloated and despised – unproductive! – middle managers.

      So there are costs to “creative destruction,” high human costs and many other costs that Americans cannot squarely look in the eye.

    Productivity there was, no doubt; now where was labor’s missing share, I asked Dean Baker and at the time I asked him he was just about ready to supply some numbers, the most prominent economist to courageously venture into this logical line of reasoning but explosive ideological minefield…really just picking up where our social betters had led us during the past three decades.

    So economist Baker used two sets of conservative assumptions and came out with two numbers. Labor’s missing share of productivity would put a new and fair national minimum wage at between $16 and $21 dollars per hour – phased in gradually of course; no responsible advocate for these numbers could insist upon rapid implementation…certainly it could not be done the way millions were riffed from middle management in the 1990’s…here today, gone tomorrow.  Separation stipend and clear out by 4:30. What color is your parachute?  Since that time, other progressive economists have piled in, and readers can do much worse than read the New York Times lead editorial from February 8th, here at  which manages to reveal more than most of the liberal lobbying material reamed out by progressives.

    The Times points out that “even a boost to $10.10 an hour by 2016 (also adjusted to 2013 dollars) would lift the minimum to just above its real value in 1968.  So while it is better than no increase, it is hardly a raise.”  The Times makes a case for $11.00 per hour while comparing today’s minimum to the “average” wage for non-supervisory production workers in the private sector.  Then comes the shocker: “The problem is that the average wage, recently $20.39 an hour, has also stagnated over the past several decades, despite higher overall education levels for typical workers and despite big increases in labor productivity…If the average wage had kept pace with those productivity gains, it would be about $36 an hour today, and the minimum wage, at half the average, would be about $18.00.”

    Well thank you, New York Times.  I didn’t expect you to be filling me in on what Centrist and even Progressive Democrats have decided on their own to leave out, skipping the productivity considerations and focusing only on links to lost inflation factors and, of course, silently factoring in the unspoken political “realism.’  These tactics and decision making processes leave me suspicious that this is not going to be a “first step,” followed by many others to bring wages and the missing productivity gains into alignment with historical reality – and economic justice.  No, I suspect the Democrats are going to try to do this $10.10 and then it won’t come up again for a decade and productivity can, well, be tossed into the dustbin of history.  Unless management finds it again a convenient discussion to have.

    This is not an argument to abandon the current minimum wage bills in Maryland(HB 295, SB 331) ,or nationally,  please don’t misunderstand me. Millions of workers at the very bottom, at the bare minimum wage, can use any help they can get.  But please, please, don’t delude yourself, Democrats, or us, that this figure is going to lift anyone out of poverty, where here in Montgomery County Maryland the County Council itself said a living wage for us was $17.00 per hour but only got a bill passed to get to $11.50 per hour by 2017, and having to give up the linkage to inflation to get that.  And I didn’t detect much enthusiasm among the other council members for Councilman Marc Elrich’s bold and skillful tactics in getting it passed. And remember, even many more millions of the working poor are not at the bare minimum, they are earning somewhere between $8.00-$10.00 per hour – that is how EPI reached its astonishing figure of 28 million Americans working for $9.89 per hour or less.

     President Obama, I don’t think the nation or your proposed policies include anything close to 28 million, or 14 million even, “ladders of opportunity.” So maybe we ought to put aside illusions of mass mobility and just make the pay and working conditions there “in place,” more humane.

    But I am not finished.  I have to be true to my own efforts in writing over the past seven years and the ignored and spurned work of many progressive economists like James Galbraith, L. Randall Wray, Thomas Palley and yes even Paul Krugman, who started out arguing for an array of greater stimulus programs, higher wages, direct governmental job creation programs built on infrastructure rehabilitation and expansion, combatting global warming, environmental restoration…and so on…a full array of programs that year by year were stripped off, pared down, whittled away by both the arrogance and intransigence of the Republican Right and the Democratic Centrist collaboration in neoliberal ideology…when the human needs were staring us all right in the face, screaming silently as people  were tortured through the foreclosure process, thrown out of work or written off as too old or without the proper skills.  So don’t try to convince me or anyone else that $10.10 is sufficient, adequate or some great humanitarian effort…it’s almost a bare skeleton…no not even that, just one bone from a fully human policy response to the great financial crisis.

    So now let us pick up the scent on the trail of Maryland’s pursuit of $10.10 per hour, backed by all those national opinion polls as well, and the Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.  In testimony given before a Maryland Senate Committee on February 17th, the Governor said this figure is actually “pretty modest.”  Yes Governor, it certainly is; that’s the result of leaving out all labor’s share of the missing productivity gains.  And ignoring  most of what the New Deal did in the 1930’s to create full employment, however incomplete its success, and despite the opposition of Maryland’s famous, or infamous, Senator Millard Tydings, who opposed FDR’s New Deal.  

    But then, after the 17th, the Maryland trail goes cold.  Even some Montgomery County Councilmembers are arguing that maybe it should just be left to Maryland counties; doubtless other legislators none too favorably disposed but reluctant to say it in public, will now argue that Maryland should wait to see if the federal government passes a $10.10 or $9.00 per hour bill.  For one has to admit American federalism – that is, what layer of government will or should act – that it is not only  the famous laboratory of democracy, but also a great stalling ground for insincere politicians.  I kept Googling and looking at my incoming Emails after this initial hearing, and the trail of the bill was dying out; not even its advocacy groups were reporting anything.  And then, growing even more curious, I found this alarming piece from the Executive Director of Progressive Maryland (Kate Planco Waybright) at David Moon’s Maryland Juice website:

    I was incredulous at first; then it began to make sense: the minimum wage bill was stalling, and in its place, accelerating - was a bill to change Maryland’s estate tax to mirror the one passed by the Republican Right a few years ago, changing Maryland’s threshold from one million to match the higher federal one - in year-by- year increments of tax break generosity.

    And then we have the sponsors of these estate tax breaks bills, SB-602 and HB-739: Senate President Mike Miller, true salt of the earth, friend of the working man, friend of nature too, no doubt and no surprise…but his often times opponent, House Speaker Michael Busch…et tu Busch? , who always was spoken of as many steps to the left of Miller…or was it just several steps…or a baby step…and then the other names supporting it: Senators Jennie Forehand,  Brian Feldman…and on the House of Delegates side: Luiz Simmons, Jim Gilchrist, Anne Kaiser…Ana Sol Gutierrez… no, no this can’t be true, can it?  But apparently it is.  And I noticed an interesting pattern.  Most of these surprising co-sponsors of additional tax breaks for the wealthy – and the loss of revenue for Maryland, because that’s what the state’s top legislative analyst projects – are also supporters of the minimum wage bill.  If you can ignore 30 years of national economic history, I guess you could call that “fair and balanced” legislating.  

    Is this a coincidence, or are the Democrats signaling that this minor and in fact harmless gesture to their long forgotten New Deal base, the working class, is so threatening during this period of rising storm clouds on the left - are these Centrists and yes even progressives- listening to Ralph Nader, Gar Alperovitz and Chris Hedges on the Baltimore based RealNews Network, as I am?  Are they so afraid of this minor humanitarian gesture to the working poor (and the unemployed can go and eat dandelions in a couple of months, can’t they?) that they have to counter-balance it with tax relief to the wealthiest among us?

    Well citizens, I hope I am very, very wrong, but I have already gone out on a limb and predicted no minimum wage bill for Maryland, and passage of estate tax relief for the destitute in Potomac,  with Maryland proudly living up to its new ranking as having the highest per capita ratio of millionaires in the nation.  Please tell me I am wrong, because if it is true, then I fear for our country because this minimum gesture is just one small step in making up for thirty years of outrageous policy and unfairness towards the majority of our citizens in matters of economic justice – and decency

    Once again, here is the link to Progressive Maryland’s posting; please use their tools to send in your outrage and protest now:

  •  Register those workers! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    How about mobile voter registration vans parked at some of those spots which hire so many minimum wage employees?   Let them know who has their interests at heart.

  •  NOPE (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it's not a winner this time, because anyone that knows anything knows it's an election year, and NO major legislation is going to pass.

    if one wants to posit that merely talking about raising the min wage is going to motivate democratic voters.. doubtful.

    in 2006 public approval rate of congress was much higher than it is now.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 03:36:41 PM PDT

  •  Won't make much of a difference. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Superpole, RichM

    Christie was re-elected by 20 points despite having a minimum wage initiative he vetoed on the ballot... if it's a bad Democratic year, throwing in ballot initiatives won't be enough to turn around a rough national environment.

    •  Right; It's Not Rocket Science (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, bananapouch1

      what is it? 1.6 million people just lost their unemployment benefits-- I'm supposed to believe these folks are all fired up to vote for democrats this fall?

      "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

      by Superpole on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 03:46:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Iraq overshadowed the min. wage . . . . (0+ / 0-)

    in 2006, combined with George W. fatigue in many races.  

    I was pretty involved in the Virginia Senate election and I don't remember anyone really highlighting the minimum wage.  We made big gains that year even though an anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment won pretty handily as well (which was just recently overturned by the Courts).

    I think the minimum wage and other bread and butter issues are a good strategy to focus on, but 2014 is still going to be an uphill battle.  Think this is probably the last election cycle for a while, where the GOP still has some built in advantages thanks to demographics and open seats.

  •  Um... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Is this really part of the Democratic platform?  Are they running on this?  Because it seems like the only thing they want to run on is the Zombie Cat Food Commission platform.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck (Disputed)

    by RichM on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 04:04:58 PM PDT

  •  What's the Harm, I See From a Number of Sources (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that it polls well. Will it drive enthusiastic turnout; probably not, but given the frequency the Democrats run on base-depressing issues, anything that's tepidly supported looks ingenious.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 04:07:03 PM PDT

  •  If we can deliver it will help some (0+ / 0-)

    Keep in mind, these voters have been living with a bad economy, shrinking incomes and severe financial stress since 2008, with little or no relief.

    Since the Great Recession, we've promised them a lot, but haven't delivered on much economic recovery.  So don't blame them if they're skeptical.

    I'm uneasy with the idea that Dems should "target" certain states by pushing for minimum wage increases at the state level.  That's very unfair and will be interpreted as such by voters.  

    I'd suggest they add some additional action on other employment/income related issues like ditching TPP, enforcing laws against currency and tariff manipulation by foreign countries that result in more jobs being shipped overseas.  Start protecting people's pensions, enforcing and tightening pension regulations.  Those are just a few things to start - and all of them can be done without Congress.

    Action, not talk. They're tired of the promises.

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by Betty Pinson on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 04:19:11 PM PDT

  •  if the dems (0+ / 0-)

    don't stop with this meely mouth way of asking for votes they will keep losing seats.

    except for a few dems most act like they are begging for support rather than telling people they have the best agenda for america and standing up for that agenda.

    if they don't have the passion needed to govern then get out of the way and let some real pols left of center get involved and take up the fight.

    •  the Dems "method" of governing (0+ / 0-)

      I like your spirit PC.  

      There is a long history, not quite a tradition, but some might say that's so, of the tension between reformers and politicians.  It was there in the "relationship" between Lincoln and the abolitionists, like William Lloyd Garrison, FDR and the left of Norman Thomas, John L. Lewis...the CIO..

      So on the matter at hand, and my previous posting reminding Maryland Dems of Millard Tydings, whom FDR tried to purge in ...1938 for his opposition to the New Deal...and the minimum doesn't show much of a strategy, either to get people fired up and to the polls, or for the long term to restore labor's missing share of productivity gains, which is what it will take to get us back to a "living wage" in the range of $15.00-$22 dollars per start at $10.10, thereby undercutting the SEIU's courageous attempt at $15 per hour for fast food workers (note that it was based in urban areas where that's not even ball park liveable...) and then to send the unmistakable signal that this is a one-off political gesture and not for the long cut the link to future increases to inflation, as the Democratic controlled Montgomery County Council did in December of 2012, and the Maryland House of Delegates just did on March 7, 2014...and the same applies nationally, where they might not get $10.10 through...but don't cut the crucial reasoning linkages for future improvements - missing inflation and productivity gains - keep them as part of the dialogue and indicate this is the just the first step...not a one time gasp...  

      And remember, the minimum wage issues ignores all those who can't find work, young and old...and the missing New Deal programs - CCC, infrastructure, global warming fighting for those who need work...universal programs for those in need...that will take pressure from the outside...and of course, let's face the bleak reality: both the minimum wage and a robust full employment strategy which involves vigorous governmental leadership are anathema to the Republican Right...the continued Democratic accommodations to the Right haven't worked...that's how 28 million are stranded at $9.89 per hour or less...and President Obama, there aren't enough ladders of opportunity in all the firehouses and Home Depots in America to let that many - even a quarter - "climb" into the middle class - whatever its boundaries are today.  

      •  trying to raise (0+ / 0-)

        the minimum wage to 10.10 is a joke and obama and the dems are just doing enough to get by with their supporters.

        with a few exceptions the dems of today are just kissin cousins to the rw, there hasn't been a real left acting as an opposition for many many years, the charlatans of today posing as dems are poor excuses for the left that used to fight and protect the workers of america.

        the opposition to the right today are to the left of them but still right of center, i know the electorate doesn't see the problem there but i'm beginning to wonder if the dems themselves actually know the reality of the situation.

        with hillary and others on the horizon i see no way anything changes for years too come, it will only get worse as we sink into fascism more each day and our democratic rights disappear before our eyes as we celebrate another con dem getting elected to save us from the right.

        i am angry and very militant but there are so few that think that way i see no interest in fighting back the rw horde that are turning us into a shell of the country we used to be or thought we were.

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