Sunday, August 12, 2012

The 23 Democrats

A bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, the level it was, when adjusted for inflation, in 1968, introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr (D-IL) on June 6, 2012, was co-sponsored by the following House Democrats.

Rep Bass, Karen [CA]
Rep Cleaver, Emanuel [MO]
Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI]
Rep Edwards, Donna F. [MD]
Rep Ellison, Keith [MN]
Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA]
Rep Fudge, Marcia L. [OH]
Rep Green, Gene [TX]
Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL]
Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL]
Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA]
Rep Jackson Lee, Sheila [TX]
Rep Johnson, Henry C. "Hank," Jr. [GA]
Rep Lee, Barbara [CA]
Rep Lewis, John [GA]
Rep Moore, Gwen [WI]
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC]
Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY]
Rep Roybal-Allard, Lucille [CA]
Rep Rush, Bobby L. [IL]
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL]
Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY]
Rep Waters, Maxine [CA]

No New Mexicans. No Martin Heinrich. No Ben Ray Lujan.

No House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. No Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Democratic National Committee chairwoman. No Dennis Kucinich, champion of the White, Middle Class Left.

There are 191 Democrats in the House. Only the 23 listed here co-sponsored Jackson's bill, which would lift some, not all, of working Americans out of poverty. Notice how the list contains mostly Blacks and Latinos. Notice how it includes the only Muslim House member, Keith Ellison.

Ralph Nader in writing about this lack of support, asks:

"What would President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who signed the first minimum wage law in 1938, say about today's pathetic Democrats (with few exceptions like the more than twenty Representatives who signed on to Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s H.R. 5901 bill to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour)? Remember how FDR pushed his Democrats in the 1930s? He would not have tolerated today's Democratic Party of caution, cash and cowardliness."

In another article about the bill, Nader gives the answer:

"The explanations go back some years. The Democrats have long receded from the Harry Truman days of “give ‘em hell, Harry.” But their political castration occurred in the late seventies when the Democrats were persuaded by one of their own, Congressman Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), to start aggressively bidding for corporate campaign cash."

The chart above is from Bloomberg Business News, which is owned by billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and is hardly a Liberal mouthpiece. It shows the decline in the purchasing power of the minimum wage since 1967. The "nominal" amount, in gray, is the actual dollar amount of the minimum wage. An article accompanies the chart.

The chart below is from the Humboldt Economic Index, a project of the Economics Department at Humboldt State University in northern California and covers the minimum wage from 1954. There's an informative article there about the history of minimum wage and "living wage" struggles.


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