As promised, President Obama signed an executive order today raising the minimum wage for employees of federal government contractors from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.
But that increase won’t show up in actual paychecks any time soon. First, the increase doesn’t even take effect until January 1, 2015. Second, it will take three to five years to be fully implemented as contracts get renewed.
GOP House leadership has given their rank and file talking points to try to justify their opposition to extending unemployment benefits without sounding dickish.
The talking points cite the “success” of ending emergency benefits in North Carolina last July, where the unemployment rate did, in fact, drop. But that’s because people just gave up and stopped looking for work. The labor participation rate in NC is the lowest it’s been in 37 years.
Six Republican senators joined with the Democrats to break a filibuster for a three-month extension of the unemployment benefits that expired on December 28. The vote was 60-37 (Dem Mark Begich of Alaska couldn’t get there).
Thank you to these “good” Republicans — Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Dan Coats of Indiana, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Rob Portman of Ohio — for doing the right thing — at least procedurally — for both our long-term unemployed and our economy.
But now they move to the substantive vote — and they still have to find a way to pay for the thing, so it’s far from done.
Then, of course, it would take a miracle to get it through the House, where 207 of the GOP seats are considered safe, so no incentive to rock the boat there .
I agree with Brian Beutler at Salon that the GOP is opposing an extension of unemployment benefits because they don’t want to do anything to help the economy — besides helping the affected families, an extension would create jobs and raise GDP.
From “GOP’s ulterior motive on unemployment: Economic sabotage?”:
“Congress has never cut off these benefits when unemployment has been as high as it is right now, and the long-term unemployed and chronically poor aren’t equivalent populations. So there’s got to be more going on than just conservative indifference.
“Some Republicans would claim the deficit is too high to renew benefits, but we know that’s not true because the deficit is shrinking fast, and there are myriad, painless ways to defray the cost….
“Unemployment benefits make people’s lives better and buoy a fragile, but possibly accelerating recovery. Some Republicans are apparently reluctant to give Democrats and the economy a shot in the arm right now.”
There are no principles involved here, just pure politics. From now on, it’s going to be all about the GOP retaking the Senate, and after the mid-terms, it’s going to all about the GOP retaking the White House. No governing, just campaigning.
“Both parties have fairly well-defined ideas about the general role of taxes, spending, and regulation. The difference is that the Democratic Party also has a policy agenda that is specifically related to the special conditions of high unemployment and low interest rates. The Republicans are still merely asserting that their normal agenda applies just as well now as ever. … They just want to get back to normal, and since normality has not arrived, they’d just as soon pretend it has.”
Jonathan Chait, “Why Republicans Have No Ideas About Mass Unemployment,” New York Magazine
They’re certainly good at pretending the long-term unemployed have plenty of jobs to choose from, if they’d just get off their tushes.
Billionaire Ken Langone ( he founded Home Depot) has asked NYC Cardinal Dolan to tell Pope Francis that he is pissing off rich American Catholics, and if he persists in pushing all this stuff Jesus preached, they will stop contributing to the Church.
So basically he wants the Catholic Church to be like the GOP and get folks all wee wee’d up about abortion and gay marriage, while ignoring anything having to do with economic justice.