NDN Blog

The Minimum Wage and Ballot Initiatives

Progressives are united on the need to raise the minimum wage. It's been almost a decade since the last hike and it's unrealistic to think that anyone could survive or raise a family on $5.15/hr. Yet, House Republicans are refusing to allow a vote on increasing the minimum wage to $7.25/hr over two years. They must have exhausted the energy they devote to legislating in their attempt to pass another pay raise for members of congress - whose pay has jumped by $31,600 since the last increase in the minimum wage.

In Arizona and Montana, the AFL-CIO and its members are taking matters into their own hands. Activists are collecting signatures in those states to put initiatives on the ballot for a $2.10/hr increase in the minimum wage. Reasonable people may disagree on the proper role of ballot initiatives in our Democracy, but this is an intriguing tactic for two reasons. First, moving towards a living wage is an important policy goal and ballot initiatives offer a way around obstinate Republican leadership in the House. Secondly, anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives drove culturally conservative voters to the polls in 2004; ballot initiatives on the minimum wage may have a similar effect on working families and progressive voters in 2006.

Misgoverning Philosophy

This morning's Post has an excellent overview of yesterday's Court decision. It hones in on why the judgement should properly be seen not just as slap in the face on the issue of guantanmo trials, but as a Governing Philosophy Rebuffed.

The Supreme Court has struck at the core of his presidency and dismissed the notion that the president alone can determine how to defend the country...  For many in Washington, the decision echoed not simply as a matter of law but as a rebuke of a governing philosophy of a leader who at repeated turns has operated on the principle that it is better to act than to ask permission.

The use of that phrase "governing philosophy" strikes a chord here at NDN. A central contention of our meeting last week was that the Republicans have given us bucketfulls of evidence that theirs has now failed. But two things further things strike us. First, the brazen response of Tony Snow when he said yesterday: "I don't think it's ever been the goal of the administration to expand executive authority. We don't have `expand executive power' sessions." As Think Progress points out, it seems pretty clear that the Vice Presiden't couldn't disagree more. But even more than the landgrab for executive privledge, it the historical analogy which really stands out. Bush now sits joins Nixon (wiretapping Vietnam protestors) and Reagan (gun-running for the Contras) in the short-but-dismal list of Presidents handslapped by the Court for over-reaching their powers.  And what can be more instructive of this President's failed agenda than the company he keeps?

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