Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Republicans Extend Middle Finger To Minimum Wage Earners

My wife and I enjoyed dinner and the theater about a week ago and, upon returning home, paid our little boy's babysitter $35 for the five-hour gig. While we consider the $7 hourly wage a bargain given what a handful our son can be, it's important to note that the recipient is a 14-year-old girl. A young girl with no mouths to feed, no rent and utilities to pay and no medical insurance to afford.

Granted, this is Westchester County and the going rate for a good sitter may be less elsewhere, but it seems extraordinary to me that the average teenaged babysitter in our neck of the woods makes more than the government mandates as the minimum wage for an adult worker.

Despite that, the Republican-led U.S. Senate on Monday voted down a bill that would have raised the federal minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 over the next 26 months.

"I believe that anyone who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year should not live in poverty in the richest country in the world," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., arguing for the Democratic proposal.

The Democratic amendment – proposed by Kennedy and cosponsored by prominent Democrats including John Kerry and Hillary Rodham Clinton -- was defeated, with 46 votes for and 49 against. Lincoln Chafee, Norm Coleman, Mike DeWine and Pete Domenici were the only Republicans who agreed that a working adult should not labor full time to remain near the poverty line.

Once again the Republicans have shown that, despite their rhetoric, they don't give a damn about working Americans. Amazingly, a good number of those hard-working folks will continue to vote for conservative candidates even though they show year after year that they are hardly friends of the working class.

My wonderful wife had an excellent idea: Make all the Republican Senators live for a few months on the current minimum wage of $10,300 per year -- ala Joe Pesci's slumlord character being sentenced by a judge to live in one of his own buildings in The Super. How fast do you think the minimum wage would go up after that experience?

This issue needs to be raised continually and highlighted in the 2006 midterm elections as a true issue of family values. Said Tom Harkin, D-Iowa: "This is a values issue. This is at the heart of what kind of country we want."