Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 4, 2010

PUTTING THE MINIMUM WAGE ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK.... In recent years, the debate over the minimum wage has largely been limited to two camps: those who want to keep the rate where it is, and those who want to increase it.

This year, with the Republican Party moving sharply to the far-right, the debate has added a third contingent that wants to see the minimum wage shrink, if not be eliminated altogether.

Republican Senate hopeful Linda McMahon of Connecticut, the wealthy and scandal-plagued wrestling company executive, suggested last week that it's time to consider lowering the minimum wage. Over the weekend, extremist Senate candidate Joe Miller (R) of Alaska went even further in an interview with ABC News.

We asked him, for example, if there should be a federally mandated minimum wage, something that has existed since Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938.

"That is clearly up to the states," Miller said. "The state of Alaska has a minimum wage which is higher than the federal level because our state leaders have made that determination. The minimum level again should be the state's decision."

So there should not be a federal minimum wage?

"There should not be," Miller answered.

This is, of course, the same Miller who also believes that federal unemployment benefits, Medicare, and Social Security should all be eliminated. He justifies all of this with a radical "Tenther" worldview that's popular in fringe circles.

Pundits often apply overly broad labels to various election cycles, in the hopes of capturing some key overarching trend. It's what's given us phrases like the "Year of the Woman," for example.

Can reasonable people agree now that this is the Year of the Nutjob?

Steve Benen 9:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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In the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Nutjob is generally followed by the Year of Deep, Lingering Regret and the the Year of Honey, Where Did We Put the Revolution?

Posted by: Personal Failure on October 4, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Why are Republicans so hell bent on turning America into a second world country?

Posted by: Ron Byers on October 4, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

I will agree with them as soon as they reduce their pay level to the minimum wage. Obviously if it would be good for the country they should lead the way.

Posted by: Dave on October 4, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

"second" - I thought they were perfecting the comeback of a third world country. They want to turn enclaves into being able to shop in the Zona Rosa, while, hiring all of their servants from Oaxaca.

Posted by: berttheclock on October 4, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

The 'poverty level' is $11,000 for singles, $22,000 for couples. 15% of Americans "qualify". Oh, and 18% of us are on food stamps- including many in the military. Many of these same folks apparently believe we need tax cuts for millionaires. . .

Posted by: DAY on October 4, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

"The minimum level again should be the state's decision."

So there should not be a federal minimum wage?

"There should not be," Miller answered.

I'm on board. Just as soon as we decentralize the military and give primary control of security back to states.

Posted by: BluePotSmokesBetter on October 4, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

The year of the nutjob indeed. They want to return America to it's glory days of mud roads, company towns and child labor.

Posted by: JoeW on October 4, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Today's Non Sequitur comic strip seems right on point -- http://imgsrv.gocomics.com/dim/?fh=11bb2a9e878d277aeae602d7655bb2a7

Posted by: argo0 on October 4, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

The way the government calculates poverty level is based on figures from the 60's. $11,000 for one person is totally unrealistic. If poverty levels were adjusted to reflect more accurate costs, we'd see a massive increase in people who are living in poverty.

Posted by: Athena on October 4, 2010 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

"Can reasonable people agree now that this is the Year of the Nutjob?"

Indeed, but reasonable people seem to be an endangered species down there in your great republic.

Posted by: davidp on October 4, 2010 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus Mary and Joseph. Cut the minimum wage; increase the minimum age for Social Sec. retirement; give MORE tax breaks to the uber wealthy so the pricks can by another Yacht in Bermuda ...

ummmm who is it that is waging class warfare??? SOmeone, anyone, Russ Feingold? Start trhowing long and hard. THIS IS FUCKING NONSENSE, and a vote for ANY R ANYWHERE IN THIS COUNTRY is a vote to drive this country down down down ....

Oh Canada ...

Posted by: bigtuna on October 4, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Miller wants to eat his cake and eat it too when he says the minimum wage and others federal programs and protections "should be left to the states." Why so? I would understand if a Tea Party anarchist like Miller wants to do away with the minimum wage altogether because setting wage rates is none of govenment's -- any government's business. But this notion of leaving it to the states is just a way for Tea Party candidates to oppose government action in areas that they know is popular with the public. They should be called on it. And given the ability of companies to play one state off against another, leaving the minimum wage to the states will mean that we can all look forward to Alabama ultimately setting wages for the rest of the country.

Posted by: Ted Frier on October 4, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Illinois' own, Bill Brady (GOPer candidate for Gov. and yet another rich guy) wants to lower the minimum wage here. Of course, he doesn't call it 'lowering' but rather 'equaling' as in:

"'I would support equaling, uh, adopting the federal minimum wage, yes,' Brady said."

Chicago Tribune

Posted by: leo on October 4, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

And yet there are still Progressives on the 'let's punish Obama by staying home this year' bandwagon. Still progressives who don't realize what Steve said so well yesterday:

[T]he American mainstream doesn't fully appreciate just how far to the right the Republican Party really is in 2010. I also suspect the electorate might be surprised if there's a GOP congressional majority next year, and voters get to see just how conservative this bunch really is.

I remind you again that there are simply no Republican seats coming up that are winnable next time -- and a LOT of vulnerable incumbents we will have to defend. And it's only a little better in 2014. So we don't get a chance to make up the losses we seem determined to have.

And, btw, it is this Senate that will have to vote on any Obama nominee to replace a departing SCOTUS Justice -- and while we all wish RBG well in her fight with cancer, that is one that everybody eventually loses. Want to guess what sort of nominee can get past a Senate with a half-dozen New Republicans thrown in the mix -- and there's already a good chance that DeMint will be challenging McConnel for leader?

(People consider me an alarmist when I mention that Robert Heinlein -- in 1940 -- picked 2012 as the year that Nehemiah Scudder was elected. But with Huckabee, Palin, and the others out there, the similarities are growing.)

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on October 4, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

while talking about cutting the minimum wage may sound nice to your Republican voting base who won't give a rat's ass how that would damage our economy, it sure as hell doesn't sound nice to the unemployed, the poor, and pretty much every other American terrified that their employers will cut their salaries in half first chance they get.

How the HELL are the Republicans even winning in the polls when their registered voter counts are way below both Non-Party voters and Democratic voters? Just who the hell are they convincing to vote for them in November?! All because they accuse Obama of being a ZOMG SOCIALIST OTHER?

Posted by: PaulW on October 4, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, why not? Let's try maximum income limits for a while.

Posted by: Sandtress on October 4, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

All this minimum wage talk reminds me of the '50's, when getting your 'working papers' was a big thing. I think you had to be 16. Perhaps we should also lower THAT figure; think of all the job opportunities for, say, 10 year olds. (I have a narrow chimney that needs cleaning: Calling Mr. Dickens. . .)

Posted by: DAY on October 4, 2010 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

We should be winning, yes, PaulW -- which is why I was so optimistic earlier. But we are losing for a lot of reasons, but one above all. Republicans are Voting -- Democrats are Pouting. Sure, there is a lot of justified criticism that we haven't moved far enough fast enough -- though in many (not all) cases the proper response is 'we couldn't get the votes.'

But this year even the abysmal, awful Blanche Lincoln is still considerably to the left not only of her opponent, but of every Republican Senatorial Candidate. (You can argue if Dick Shelby or Kelly Ayotte is the most 'progressive' Republican -- but simply stating it that way makes the point.)

And this isn't a Dorm Room 4 AM bull session or a 'Civilization'-type game like Sandtress seems to think. We don't get to 'restart the game' once we lose, or create our own rules. We're going to live with Next Tuesday for a long time.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on October 4, 2010 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Funny how these people never seem to have a problem with raising the Maximum Wage.

Posted by: chrenson on October 4, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is just smart negotiating by the party that knows how to do this successfully. If our side had their smarts, we'd have Nancy Pelosi calling for doubling the minimum wage.

It's hard to believe that the Dems in fact WANT to win...

Posted by: Jim P on October 4, 2010 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

The minimum wage needs to be increased to at least $20/hr. If some people lose their job (especially youth employment), that would be unfortunate.

Posted by: JW on October 4, 2010 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

I like your article post. I think E filing of state taxes and federal taxes is the best way. Now we can easily check our state tax refund status from internet.

Posted by: 2010 Alaska Tax on October 5, 2010 at 3:45 AM | PERMALINK

The minimum wage is a poverty wage as it exists now. Where I live what would be considered a living wage for a single man with no kids is $12.36/hour. Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr. Nobody anywhere in the U.S., even in Alabama, could live on $7.25/hr. Nobody. The federal minimum wage needs to be raised to a LIVING wage. The fact that it's $7.25 is breathtakingly heartless. Just another example of how the U.S. government is nothing but the octopus arms of big business.

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Posted by: Judy Harris on February 2, 2011 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK



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