(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
The push for an increase in the minimum wage has grown with the recent passing of an increase in New Jersey from $7.25 to 8.25 with annual increases based in inflation. The amendment to the state’s constitution passed with 61% of the vote over newly reelected Governor Chris Christie’s objection. A Gallup poll conducted Nov. 5-6 shows that an even greater percentage of Americans would vote for an even higher minimum wage. According to a White House official, the Obama administration supports the bill introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour in increments of 95 cents.
The same Gallup poll that showed 76% of Americans support for the increase, also showed support across party lines with 58% of self-identified Republicans supporting it. So what’s the problem? The issue is congress’ feral children, the Tea Party coalition in both houses who have vowed to block it and would completely abolish the minimum wage if they had their way. These are the same extremists who would repeal child labor laws, as well.
Despite the objections of the radical minority, the wave for an increase of the minimum wage is swelling as RJ Eskow observes:
“There’s something happening here/what it is ain’t exactly clear …”
When Steve Stills wrote the dystopian anthem “For What It’s Worth” in 1966, it resonated with listeners who understood that great if half-hidden transformations were underway. There’s been a turn toward the dystopian in recent economic and social trends as well: Wall Street greed and criminality. The growing power of wealth over the political process. The rise of the Tea Party. The collapsing middle class. Growing inequalities of wealth. Lost social mobility.
But there were encouraging signs in 1966, as well as troubling ones, and that’s equally true today. Take the movement for a minimum wage. Voters in the state of New Jersey and the city of Tacoma, Washington voted to increase the minimum wage in last week’s election. These victories follow a series of polls which confirm that the general public holds strongly progressive views on issues which range from taxation to Medicare and Social Security.
Something is happening here.
Noam Scheiber, senior editor for The New Republic, spoke with Rachel Maddow about why economic populism is a wise strategy for Democrats.