Of course I realize the biggest news in the country is about Michael Flynn trying to make a deal to stay out of prison! But there is plenty of time to get to that one, or get to what may be the beginning of the end of Agent Orange. In the mean time, Republicans are doing other things that need attention. Right now, I want to talk about something much more immediately important to a lot of folks, a lot of working folks who don’t earn much money, many of whom, if we believe what we are told, voted for Agent Orange last November.
I will start my post in a weird way. I will start with a 24-year-old right-wing freak, a typically nasty and bigoted talk show host who hated Hillary Clinton, loved Tr-mp—and Tr-mp loved her, phoning her last month after she said nice stuff about him on Hannity—and who has more than 4 million followers on Facebook. Tomi Lahren, and her Fox-blonde hair, worked for Glenn Beck’s BlazeTV until just recently. Beck fired her because she correctly called anti-choice conservatives “hypocrites” during an appearance on ABC’s The View:
I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies.
Beck, of course, doesn’t think it is hypocritical to hotly believe in small government but also hotly believe that government should be big enough to snoop around in vaginas and decide what women ought to do with them. The truth is that no matter what they say, conservatives only believe in small government when it comes to things like taxes and healthcare and the environment. But when it comes to probing vaginas and robbing women of their reproductive rights, they love a powerful, manly-thrusting government. Oh, and the point of this piece: when it comes to robbing the working poor of a decent wage, they also love a big government that thrusts its manhood into the lives of the vulnerable.
More than three years ago, I wrote about Oklahoma’s governor, Mary Fallin, signing a bill that banned “cities in Oklahoma from passing a higher minimum wage requirement than the state’s current minimum (which is set at the federal level of $7.25), and that bans those cities from enacting sick and vacation leave requirements on behalf of workers.” At the time, Oklahoma City was in the process of establishing a higher minimum wage than the federal rate, and that bit of decency simply could not happen. I wrote about the hypocrisy involved, about how Republicans love “local control” until local control “conflicts with larger business interests,” the protection of which is the primary reason the Republican Party is able to attract large donors.
Now comes similar news, courtesy of HuffPo:
In an appalling move to keep low-wage workers locked in poverty, the Iowa legislature this week gave final approval to a bill that reverses local minimum wage increases already approved in several counties and bans cities and counties from setting any wage and benefit standards. It is the first time that a state has nullified local minimum wage ordinances that had already taken effect and forced jurisdictions to lower minimum wage rates that had previously been raised.
On a vote of 29-21, Republicans in the Iowa Senate voted unanimously for the bill, which passed the House earlier. After signing it today, Governor Terry Branstad will forever be known as the governor who robbed tens of thousands of Iowa’s lowest-paid workers of their pay raises.
An Associated Press article noted that up to 100,000 workers may be affected and quoted a local organizer for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement:
It’s a big business measure. It’s something that actively makes Iowans poorer and does not represent working people at all.
Now, just why would Republicans want to make Iowans, or anyone, poorer? The Iowa City Press-Citizen tells us:
“This prevents a patchwork quilt of different regulations,” and ensures uniformity for wages on a statewide basis, said Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, who spoke in favor of the bill.
Uniformity. That’s it. Uniformity. No good can come when some working folks are making $10.10 an hour (the minimum wage passed in Iowa’s Johnson County, home of the University of Iowa) when they could all be making $7.25. HuffPo gave us a snapshot of who these working folks are:
Eighty-four percent of these workers are 20 years of age or older. Nearly 60 percent work full-time. More than half are women. Thirty-one percent are parents. Almost a third are at least 40 years old. And now they face not only low pay, but pay cuts.
Small price to pay for uniformity. HuffPo tells us why all this is happening:
In recent years, more and more cities have enacted local minimum wage laws as a means of improving jobs for local workers – especially when state legislatures refuse to act. In response, corporate lobbyists from groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are going over the heads of local leaders and pushing preemption laws to strip cities of the power to act. To date, 23 other states have enacted minimum wage preemption laws, including the notorious case of Alabama last year, which blocked a higher minimum passed by the City of Birmingham from taking effect.
Here in Missouri, where our Republican legislators have been engaged in a race to the bottom with Kansas (oh, and ain’t it wonderful that the governor of Brownbackistan just vetoed an expansion of Medicaid that would have helped 150,000 low-income folks? Don’t ask me why so many Republicans dislike poor people; I don’t have any answers), we have the same stop-the-locals-from-increasing-the-minimum-wage issue brewing. Mitchell Hirsch, writing for The Hill, gave us the details:
Back in 2015, the elected Board of Aldermen in St. Louis approved, and Mayor Francis Slay signed, an ordinance to set St. Louis’s minimum wage at $8.25 per hour and then raise it gradually to $11 by January 2018. Lickety split, Republican state lawmakers passed a law to bar cities from enacting local minimum wages, and business groups pressed a lawsuit to try to halt the St. Louis raise. Lawmakers overrode then-Governor Jay Nixon’s veto to enact the measure, and the lawsuit yielded an injunction halting the St. Louis wage increase before it took effect.
But last month, a unanimous Missouri Supreme Court ruled that state law did not prohibit St. Louis from moving ahead with its higher minimum wage. As a result, when the injunction is lifted — which could happen in a matter of days — St. Louis’ minimum wage will increase to $10 per hour, giving 70,000 low-wage workers there a badly needed raise.
And so, on March 1, one day after the high court’s decision, Republican lawmakers dusted off their minimum wage preemption bill and rewrote it to be a local minimum wage nullification bill — one that would nullify, even retroactively, the St. Louis raises and impose state-mandated wage suppression targeting Missouri’s underpaid workers.
Hirsch told us that “business lobbyists in Jefferson City” are hard at work:
They are telling state lawmakers to drop everything in order to rush through “emergency” legislation to make sure the workers don’t get these raises, claiming that raising pay for workers at the bottom somehow poses a threat to Missouri’s public health and safety.
“Pubic health and safety” is, admittedly, a better excuse than “uniformity.” But it is still all bullshit based on greed. Hirsch offered us some reality to counter the bullshit:
Research comparing job-growth patterns in neighboring cities or counties with differing minimum wages shows that higher minimum wages effectively boost incomes without slowing job growth or making businesses leave.
As of now, we don’t know what Missouri’s version of Tr-mp, Governor Eric Greitens, will do if that nasty GOP bill makes it to his desk. But, as we have found with Tr-mp and Paul Ryan and other Republicans, they cannot be confused with the facts. They have their big-donor interests to protect and facts just get in the way of doing that. But there is one fact they cannot dodge, one fact they cannot run away from: they are not small-government conservatives. They love big government as much as, if not more than, any wild-eyed liberal. It’s just that they love it for different reasons:
- They love it when it reaches between the legs of women and grabs them by their reproductive rights.
- They love it when it comes to a massive military budget.
- They love it when it subsidizes agriculture.
- They love it when it subsidizes the fossil fuel industry.
- They love it when it wants to build a big and beautiful wall at the border.
- They love it when it wants to round up and deport the immigrants who make our hotel beds and pick our fruit.
- They love it when they send the cops out to prosecute the war on drugs.
- They love it when it restricts the voting rights of people of color.
- They love it when it discriminates against non-Christians.
- They love it when it tries to bust unions.
And, as this post makes clear, they love big government when it comes to keeping the minimum wage as low as possible, either in the name of “uniformity” or protecting “public health and safety” or whatever reason they can invent to defend the indefensible.
So, tomorrow we can get back to Mike Flynn and Tr-mp’s Russia problem. Today, though, let’s think about the utter hypocrisy of a political party whose leaders speak so loudly about the dangers of big government, even as they use big government to serve their own interests.