It is a tough time to be out of work, especially for more than 26 weeks. Right now in the Senate democrats are trying to muster enough votes to push through a measure to extend federal unemployment benefits for three months. It is not going well. Apparently safe guarding the only income of 1.3 million people doesn't rank up there with buying a new rocket launcher, or some similar military toy.
NBC is reporting the bill, sponsored by Jack Reed, D-RI and Dean Heller, R-NV is four votes short of the 60 needed. All 55 democrats and independents are for it, while only one republican, the aforementioned Mr. Heller, is in favor. It probably doesn't matter anyway since an extension would never get through the republican controlled House of Representatives. The GOP leadership of that august body is calling the act "fiscally irresponsible." At least that is what the right wing super pac, Club for Growth is telling them to say.
Actually it isn't so easy now days even if you have a job at say a fast food establishment. The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. If you're lucky enough to be working full time at that rate your salary comes out to just a shade over $14,000 per year.
Well that isn't bad for some teen aged kid, right? I suppose not, but the problem is, according to economist, Paul Krugman teenagers make up slightly less than 25% of everyone working at minimum wage. 38% are in their 20's and another 38% are 30 years old or older. In fact, Krugman notes 43% of everyone toiling away at $7.25 per hour has at least some college education.
Krugman goes on to write that in terms of real spending power the minimum wage has decreased 32% over the last 46 years. In a moment of whimsy he also informs us if the minimum wage had increased percentage wise as much as the income of the top one percent of American earners the last few years, that the friendly greeter at Walmart's front door would be making $22.62 per hour at this very moment.
Obviously you can't have everything. The trouble is minimum wage workers might not get anything.
There will be a push by the Obama administration this year to raise the minimum to $10.10 per hour. NBC and the Wall Street Journal took a poll in December and found, 77% of democrats are in favor of it. Unfortunately only 47% of main stream republicans are in favor and when you get to that stiff upper right lip of the GOP, the tea party--wait for it--a full 55% are against any sort of increase at all.
I hate to be a pessimist, but who do you think John Boehner is going to listen to? This is the same guy who shut down the entire United States government because he was scared of pissing off those heartless wretches sitting on the far edge of delusion and cruelty. No, as long as the tea party virus is infesting the house in the sort of numbers it is now I wouldn't expect a raise for the cashier at the local McDonald's any time soon.
All the jabbering about becoming more inclusive after Uncle Mitt took it on the chin has gone out the window because the republican center is being held hostage by the tea party. That same NBC/WSJ poll showed overall, white voters approved of the $10.10 per hour figure 59% to 40%. However, 82% of African Americans are for it and 73% of Hispanics agree with them. Yessiree, saying screw you to overwhelming numbers of black and Latino voters is certainly an innovative way to expand your base.
Of course that's only if you were truly interested in expanding your base, which now seems like either an outright lie, or a moment of clarity quickly snuffed out by the tea party rubes. Yes, it looks like the whole don't let 'em vote thing is what the GOP is going all in on. In some ways you can hardly blame them. After all, voter suppression is far easier than trying to accommodate the needs and ambitions of tens of millions of people who aren't really American, or white.
So, there we have it on this frigid Monday.
There is nothing that warms the heart of a republican quite like cutting down the safety net for people in need and making sure the working poor remain really poor.
Hey, bitch, if scads of people aren't suffering then it ain't capitalism!
That's right. E Pluribus fuck 'em.