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Minimum wage

We already know that the minimum wage doesn’t pay enough to get a two-bedroom apartment in the vast majority of the country. Yet conservatives continue to push the same old lie: that raising the minimum wage causes unemployment. Now, a group of Democratic Congress members are trying to raise the issue. Does it have a snowball’s chance in hell? Nope. But they’re still going to have the discussion:

If today’s minimum wage workers earned the same as their counterparts in 1968, they would receive $10 per hour. That, unfortunately, is $2.75 more than the current federal minimum wage.This would be a serious problem at any time, but it’s particularly relevant now, as the awful economy has forced millions of workers into minimum-wage jobs. (And they’re the lucky ones).

To that end, Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. has introduced the “Catching Up To 1968 Act of 2012.” Within sixty days of being enacted, it would raise the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour, and beginning one year after that, would index it to the Consumer Price Index. For workers that rely on tips, the bill would mandate the cash wage to be 70 percent of the minimum wage and never less than $5.50 per hour.

“We’ve bailed out banks, we’ve bailed out corporations, we’ve bailed out Wall Street, we’ve tried to create sound fundamentals in the economy—now it’s time to bail out working people who work hard every day and they still only make $7.25,” Jackson said this morning at a news conference outside the US Capitol. “The only way to do that is to raise the minimum wage.”

Ralph Nader and Representatives Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers also attended the news conference—a roster of liberal stars if there ever was one. But it’s important to note that raising the minimum wage has often found bipartisan support. Rick Santorum, for example, wrote legislation to increase it, and until recently even Mitt Romney supported tying it to the CPI.

And with 30 million workers receiving minimum wage, it should certainly be a viable political issue. “These are not just liberal workers or progressive workers or conservative workers or libertarian workers,” said Nader. “This is a unifying issue in our country at a time when there are few declared unifying political issues.“

What is missing is a unified drive by elected members of Congress to provide the requisite courage to challenge the merciless oligarchy, which includes the big-box stores like Walmart and McDonalds, and compel them to adjust their pay.

Kucinich added that it was a tough sell inside the Beltway, but an easy sell outside of it. “We live in a bubble here in Washington, DC. This place is dripping with wealth. Wealth is just cascading into the capital to buy elections,” he said. “But when you get outside Washington, DC, and you get to the cities and the townships and the villages of America, there are people struggling to survive. There are people who can’t make it on $7.25 an hour if they even have a job.”

The federal minimum wage increased in 2007, from $5.15 an hour. There hasn’t been any evidence that it caused businesses to hire less workers, and in fact research has shown that an increase in the minimum wage doesn’t create an increase in unemployment.

Do you remember Republican political consultant Nathan Sproul? C&L wrote about him back in 2010, when he was up to no good in California. He has a long history of destroying Democratic voter registrations and now he’s working for Mitt Romney:

Late last year, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign began paying Nathan Sproul, a political consultant with a long history of destroying Democratic voter registration forms and manipulating ballot initiatives. Sproul, who changed his firm’s name from Sproul and Associates to Lincoln Strategies, has received over $70,000 from Romney’s campaign. Much of the campaign coverage has focused on the rhetoric of surrogates and the role of high-priced television advertisements. But if Sproul continues to play a role in the campaign, and if his previous work is any guide, his firm may have an impact on key swing states.

ThinkProgress covered Sproul and his work for the coal industry. The post, which partially reprinted below, goes through his greatest hits, including evidence that his firm systematically suppressed Democratic overs on behalf of the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential team and deceiving voters during registration drives in 2006:

– In Oregon and Nevada, Lincoln Strategies — then known as Sproul and Associates — was investigated for destroying Democratic voter registration forms. The Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign paid Sproul $7.4 million for campaign work. [CNN, 10/14/04; KGW News, 10/13/04; East Valley Tribune, 09/07/06]

– In Nevada, people who registered as Democrats with Lincoln Strategies — then known as Sproul and Associates — found their names absent from the voter registration rolls. [Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/29/04]

– During the 2006 midterm elections, Wal-Mart banned Lincoln Strategies for partisan voter registration efforts in Tennessee. The Republican National Committee had hired the firm. [Associated Press, 08/24/06]

– In Arizona, Lincoln Strategies employed a variety of deceptive tactics — including systematically lying about the bill — to push a ballot initiative to eviscerate the state’s clean elections law. [Salon, 10/21/04]

– Lincoln Strategies, then employed by the Republican Party, was behind efforts to place Ralph Nader on the ballot in states such as Arizona. [American Prospect, 06/25/04]

Though Romney and his allies have decried supposed voter fraud by his opponents, they don’t have any evidence that people are illegally voting. Most accusations of Democratic voter fraud center on registration forms filled out by fake people — usually because signature gatherers are paid per-form — but these accusations do not include examples of these fake people actually attempting to vote.

On the other hand, when a person goes to vote and learns their voter registration form was never turned in, they are denied their rights. Former Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), during a hearing on voter fraud, admitted that “the difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn’t throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”

R.I.P.

Bob Welch, 66.

Shipping out

The B-side of “Light My Fire” is a beautifully spooky ballad and a reminder, like the A-side, that the Doors burst onto the scene with a style that was fully developed and almost impossible to improve upon. Put another way, they recorded more than a few good albums but never topped their great debut.

Alan Grayson in Huffington Post:

…Bush claimed (as right-wingers always do) that tax breaks for the rich would create jobs in the private sector. Well, they haven’t. There were 110 million private sector jobs in America in 2001. There are 110 million private sector jobs in America today. Despite a population increase of more than 25 million, there are no more private sector jobs today than when the Bush tax breaks for the rich became law.

In the past 11 years, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased from 33 million to 44 million. The number of Americans receiving food stamps has risen from 18 million to 46 million. “Trickle-down” has not even been a trickle…

Virtually Speaking tonight

What Explains Falling Confidence in the Press? @jayrosen_nyuhttp://bit.ly/KiLmc7 Listen Live 9pm east http://bit.ly/Md7k1y #TopProg

The DOJ was ignored, but a Republican official is on the case:

Though Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL)’s administration has now said it will not follow the Department of Justice’s order to end its voter roll purge, a Republican county election supervisor’s spokeswoman told ThinkProgress she will not resume the purge effort…

What a funny guy that Republican candidate for the presidency is:

…Phillip Maxwell, a prep school buddy, told the New Republic in 2008 that Romney had pulled over students from a girls school next door to Cranbrook while wearing a police uniform as a prank…

In The Real Romney, a biography published by Boston Globe reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman this year, another former friend recalled how [Mitt] Romney had “put a siren on top of his car and chased two of his friends who were driving around with their dates.” The two friends were in on the scheme, but the girls were not. There was beer in the car trunk, according to a prearranged plan. Mitt told his two counterparts to get out of their vehicle and into his car. Then they drove off, leaving the girls behind.

“It was a terrible thing to do,” said one of his accomplices, a Cranbrook classmate named Graham McDonald…

Yes, the population bomb is real

Dr. Paul Ehrlich was ridiculed many times over the years for his book, The Population Bomb, in which he argued that the rapidly growing world population is a major threat to our survival. Ehrlich underestimated the amount of people ecosystems can support, but I can’t understand why anyone would argue with his general thesis. From The Raw Story:

Climate change, population growth and environmental destruction could cause a collapse of the ecosystem just a few generations from now, scientists warned on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The paper by 22 top researchers said a “tipping point” by which the biosphere goes into swift and irreversible change, with potentially cataclysmic impacts for humans, could occur as early as this century.

The warning contrasts with a mainstream view among scientists that environmental collapse would be gradual and take centuries…

The factors in today’s equation include a world population that is set to rise from seven billion to around 9.3 billion by mid-century and global warming that will outstrip the UN target of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The team determined that once 50-90 percent of small-scale ecosystems become altered, the entire eco-web tips over into a new state, characterised especially by species extinctions.

Once the shift happens, it cannot be reversed.

Cantor the saboteur

For years Democrats from Obama on down have largely refrained from accusing Republicans, out loud and unambiguously, of blocking legislation meant to get the economy — the real economy, the one that involves job creation — up and running again. Don’t bet on it, but maybe some Congressional Dems have finally realized they don’t impress unemployed or underemployed voters by reaching across the aisle to saboteurs:

If economic growth continues to slow ahead of the election, Democrats’ pitch to voters may have to sharpen as the party’s odds of victory in the presidential and congressional elections would likely worsen.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) floated one possible trial balloon Tuesday afternoon when he accused House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) of deliberately sabotaging the economy for partisan gain.


“You have heard, as I’ve heard, that there’s a battle going on between Cantor and [House Speaker John] Boehner as to whether or not there should be a [highway] bill,” Reid told reporters. “Cantor, of course — I’m told by others that he wants to not do a bill to make the economy worse, because he feels that’s better for them. I hope that’s not true…”

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