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Obama Has Been Speechless on Minimum Wage

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Democrats cannot even articulate the most basic bread-and-butter issues, like raising the minimum wage. That's because their standard bearer “has not said anything meaningful about the minimum wage since he was campaigning for president in 2008.” Raising the wage floor is hugely popular, a good issue to run on – but not pleasing to the rich, and therefore a no-no for Obama.

 

Obama Has Been Speechless on Minimum Wage

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The lowest wage sector now accounts for almost 60 percent of job growth.”

The impoverishment of politics in the Age of Obama has been nothing short of amazing. This president has so suppressed every vestigial remnant of progressivism in the political discourse, that the most fundamental bread and butter issues have become taboo. I’m talking about raising the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2007, the year before the bottom fell out of the economy.

A new study shows that the Great Recession was most destructive of decent-paying jobs, the middle tier where working people earned between about $14 and $21 an hour. That’s where sixty percent of job losses occurred between 2008 and 2010, and most of those jobs have not come back. Instead, the greatest increase in jobs has come in the low-wage sector, with a median pay from $7.69 – just above the federal minimum – to $13.83 an hour. The lowest wage sector now accounts for almost 60 percent of job growth, with traditionally bad-paying jobs in food preparation and retail sales leading the way.

High unemployment, on top of the disappearance of living wage jobs. You would think that in an election year, the party that is most identified with working people and folks that need to find work would be screaming at the top of their lungs: Raise the minimum wage! But, you will hear little or nothing of that from the Democratic convention festivities in Charlotte.

Poll numbers show huge public support for an increase, including among lots of Republicans.”

It’s not that the delegates are unaware of the crying need for a higher minimum wage. The Democratic platform – for what its worth – declares that “we will raise the minimum wage, and index it to inflation.” However, it doesn’t say how much, or when. And that’s in deference to the party’s standard bearer, who has not said anything meaningful about the minimum wage since he was campaigning for president in 2008. Back then, Obama promised to work to raise the minimum to $9.50 by 2011. Then he got elected, and we heard nothing more about it.

When the president is mum on an issue, then the party faithful put themselves on mute. There are bills in the House and the Senate to raise the minimum wage – the best one is sponsored by Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., calling for an immediate $10 an hour minimum, tied to inflation. But, there’s no chance of these bills going anywhere without the cooperation of Democratic leadership. Ralph Nader and others have beseeched party leaders to break the silence, but they don’t dare raise the issue for fear of embarrassing their President.

Apologists for Obama will claim that pushing for a $10 minimum wage indexed to inflation – or any significant raise – would hurt his chances for re-election. But the poll numbers show differently, with huge public support for an increase, including among lots of Republicans. Even Mitt Romney says he supports linking the minimum wage to inflation – just not right now. Obama has effectively been saying “no, not now” to underpaid workers for almost four years. So, why in the hell is labor getting ready to spend tens of million of dollars to re-elected him, instead of building a movement that will force politicians to do the right thing? For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

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Comments

Minimum Wage

Well let me see.  What do you think would be the chance of the republicans passing a minimum wage bill increase in the House?  The president has been like a one legged man in butt kicking contest since he entered the office.  If he gets reelected and the voters fix the mess they caused in the mid-term, this will get fixed.

Wrong answer.

Obama had 2 years from January 2009 through January 2011 when this country had a Democratic supermajority in the Senate, a sizeable Democratic majority in the House plus an ostensibly Democratic president. Golden opportunity to actually get off their asses and do something about the minimum wage, the Employee Free Choice Act, single-payer health care... What do we have to show for it?

Minimum wage stuck at $7.25/hour -- great for business owners but absolute shit for the average low-wage worker. No Employee Free Choice Act because it would give the capitalist ownership class acid reflux. No single-payer health care, not even a public option, no ability to reimport affordable pharmaceuticals from Canada because that would cut into Big Pharma's profit margins. No, instead what we got was a health care "reform" bill that only Big Pharma and the health insurance companies could love. If you don't believe me ask yourself why did the stocks of big insurance companies skyrocket as soon as word reached Wall Street that the "reform" bill was going to pass in Congress? We also have had an administration that floated a trial balloon in the Washington Post a couple of years ago suggesting they want to privatize public housing. If a white Republican president had suggested that they'd run his ass out of town on a rail and call him the biggest racist since David Duke. But an African-American Democrat president suggests it and I hear crickets chirping. If a Republican president had ramped up the failed natural gas pipeline war in Afghanistan the anti-war protesters would have come out of the woodwork... but Obama does it and the left doesn't make a sound.

Just what exactly do you expect the billionaires' puppet and corporate whore Obama to do in the next four years? When he has absolutely no pressure whatsoever from having to face another election? If he didn't do jack nor shit these last four years knowing he'd have to face progressives at the ballot box in 2012 what the hell kind of leverage do you think we'll have with him over the next four? Get real buddy, as Glen Ford and others on this blog have said before Obama is not the lesser of two evils but the more effective evil. Don't be an enabler for him. Vote for none of the above. Refuse to give your endorsement to a transparently phony and meaningless process. Refuse to lend it undeserved credibility. Otherwise you're part of the problem.

I think you're right.

And I still can't believe he called the esteemed Mr. Ford "a skinny white guy with long hair." This troll obviously has no idea what this blog is all about.



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