Rachel Maddow Tells Democrats the Minimum Wage is a Key to 2010 Victory

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As Republican candidates around the country openly discuss repealing the minimum wage on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow made an interesting argument that the single issue that could power the Democrats to victory is the minimum wage. Maddow said, “When minimum wage is an issue, not only does it win, Democrats win alongside the issue, too.”

Here is the video from MSNBC:

Maddow pointed out that the minimum wage is great issue for the Democrats, “If you had a secret decoder ring for democratic electoral success, the minimum wage is what your ring decodes to. Whenever minimum wage is on the ballot, it blows up. In 2006, minimum wage initiative passed in Nevada by 38 points. Minimum measure in Arizona passed by 32 points. Two years earlier one passed in Florida by 44 points. Montana, Montana! Democratic senator Jon Tester of Montana elected in 2006, when was that minimum wage ballot initiative ballot wage on the ballot? 2006. This is the code for Democrats. When minimum wage is an issue, not only does it win, Democrats win alongside issue, too. Quoting Congressional Quarterly, “In 2006, voter motivation and reported interest in the election was disproportionately high among democratic-based voters, especially where minimum wage initiatives were in play.”

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Maddow discussed how Republicans have tried to hide their position on the minimum wage to the voters, “The minimum wage issue is not something that gets talked about on the federal level very much, very often. But it is a very, very potent issue for Democrats. Raising the minimum wage is very popular with voters, and Republicans know it….Business interests, the backbone of the Republican Party have fought minimum wage initiatives tooth and nail over the years. Like the Chamber of Commerce, that brags it continues to oppose increases.”

She highlighted the political dilemma for Republican candidates on the minimum wage issue, “This is really awkward for Republicans. On the one hand, they’re so reliant on the support of business interests, they represent business interests. But on the other hand, they recognize that opposing minimum wage increases is really bad electorally, even in conservative states. So Republicans have been against the minimum wage, but very quietly. I’m convinced the republican jihad against ACORN was not about some fake expose. It wasn’t about that. it was was because they organized people around minimum wage initiatives that always passed. Initiatives that also turned out Democratic base.”

She concluded, “That sound you hear in the distance is the sound of Democratic antenna beginning up going up across the country. It is proven to energize Democratic voters over and over and over again. Every where in the country. Republican John Faese running for Senate in West Virginia. Linda McMahon of Connecticut, County Joe Miller of Alaska, all on record arguing against the minimum wage. In Connecticut, Democratic Richard Blumenthal already hit Linda McMahon on it. Now she says she misunderstood the question. She didn’t understand it at all. Good luck. The principle that anyone working a full time shouldn’t be poor, the richest most powerful country on earth, you ought to be table to live on what you earn if you live full time as Americans, that leaks out of our veins and Republicans are against it. It’s always been incredibly potent political issue for Democrats and this year the Republicans made the mistake of admitting in public where they always quietly stood on it before. It is the softest target there is in this entire election.”

It is stunning that the Republicans are so confident heading into next month’s election that they are openly discussing repealing or lowering the minimum wage. The minimum wage is a populist issue that cuts across all ideological lines. It is a pocketbook issue that motivates low wage earners in both Red and Blue states all across the country. It is a powerful, personal issue that energizes millions of voters, so the Republican willingness to discuss their unpopular position on the minimum wage is an absolute gift.

Politically savvy and experienced Republicans never ever volunteer to discuss their position on the issue, but this year the GOP is running a crop of inexperienced ideologues who don’t know when to shut up. When they spout off about repealing the minimum wage, they not only look completely uncaring and out of touch, but they undercut their own message of populism. All of these Republican candidates are running on a populist message of taking back Washington, but it is difficult for them to stick by their populism when they are in favor of gutting the minimum wage.

I’ll take Rachel Maddow’s point a step further. Not only should Democrats run on protecting the minimum wage, they should make it one of the central issues of the 2010 homestretch. Unlike healthcare reform, this issue is not complicated or difficult to explain. If you are working hard at making the minimum wage, the Republicans want to take your livelihood away. They want you to work at Wal-Mart for $3.50 an hour. Good luck feeding your family on that. It is an issue that clearly defines this election, and Democrats would be foolish not to run on it.

9 Replies to “Rachel Maddow Tells Democrats the Minimum Wage is a Key to 2010 Victory”

  1. improve the life circumstances of people,example the wage,tax cuts,inflation – – -etc,will be the essential issues at the mid-term election..

  2. She’s right. One thing you can absolutely count on the big business-owned Republican Party opposing besides abortion is minimum wage and unions – anything to do with workers rights. I like your closing argument, Jason. Because without improved minimum wage, Wal-Mart for $3.50 is about what you end up with.

  3. These inexperienced runners for the GOP are far from being the only ones who can’t keep their mouths shut. There are people like the DeMented senator from South Carolina who has made no secret of the fact that he considers gays and sexually active single women unfit to teach in schools. There are people in Congress like the one who apologized to BP earlier this year when BP was being held accountable for causing the spill. But even more importantly, there are too many who have a proven record in Congress of don-nothing obstructionism–like Senator Bunning, who blocked the extension of benefits for the unemployed.

    The inexperienced ones who publicly come out against the minimum wage are only voicing openly what a lot of more savvy politicians privately think. The latter know that public opinion is strongly in favor of the minumum wage, and they know that proposals to eliminate it would be an instant deal-breaker in getting reelected. In any case, the GOP worked hard at opposing the Obama administration’s initiatives, and in their effort to regain dominance they ended up with candidates that embody lunacy at its worst. They got more than they ever bargained for, and they have only themselves to blame. Just the same, it would be a mistake for those of us who don’t want them in power to succumb to complacency and fail to get out and vote in November. There has seldom been a more critically important opportunity to cause the pundits to end up with egg in their faces for misjudging us.

  4. I am sorry but Maddose is totally incorrect. We have had 3 increases to the minimum wage over the last 3 years. Each and every time the following month unemployment raises. Most union contracts that use minimum wage mulitpled by a factor 4 to determine base hourly wage. But that its only part of the problem, then comes all the hidden taxes businesses are required to pay social security medicare, workers comp which is solely based on total payroll, federal and state unemployment taxes. At 5.15 an hour, including taxes comes out to 6.23 a hour, jump the minimum 7.25 a hour and the hidden taxes bring it closer to 9.75 a hour. No wonder businesses are laying people off.

  5. So, what is supposed to happen when the costs of necessities like rent, mortgages, food, clothing, and college education go up? Is the minimum wage supposed to remain static?

  6. Ummm…wait a second. The argument you just made basically just legitimized slavery. I mean, if businesses can hire more people at $5.15/hour, why not just lower it to $3/hour? Wait a second – we could just reduce the unemployment rate to 0% by running around picking up all of the unemployed US citizens and putting them to work. For free. Awesome! Now everyone’s working! That’s what we wanted, right guys? Right? Bueller? Bueller?

    People work to earn money, not just for the sake of working. The most important thing is not rich peoples’ bottom line – it’s making sure people with the grit and gall can work hard to earn a living. In this country, someone willing to work 60 hours per week should be able to provide for their family and then some. Don’t you think giving more families investment money, rather than debt, would help our economy more than squeezing them for everything we can?

    Try to consider the long term – not just how big businesses can increase their profit margins by an extra 0.5%.

  7. No. No. … No.
    Slavery is not just working for no money. It’s being forced to work, regardless of your will. Remember, volunteers aren’t slaves.

    Imagine the minimum wage were abolished tomorrow. You seem to think nothing would stop businesses from hiring people for $0. But what would stop the workers from refusing to work for no money, as they surely would? How could they be forced to work for free? If you were unemployed and someone said they had a job offer but it paid nothing, would you take it? (Here are your options: continue not working, which earns no money, or work for this person, and still earn no money.) Kind of a no-brainer.

    The main error you’re making is neglecting the role of labor in setting wages. Employers don’t just arbitrarily pay people any amount they want. Of course, they want to pay as little as necessary (and workers want as much as possible). This naturally results in a constant negotiation between management and labor. If workers could earn more somewhere else, they’ll leave, so employers have to make sure they pay enough to keep their workforce. Employees command their wages with their skills and experience that are valuable to their employers.

    Yes, “people work to earn money”. But that’s only one side of the relationship. Businesses are run by people. Those people also work. They can’t pay someone more than what their labor is worth. It wouldn’t work. The business would fail.

    The minimum wage increases unemployment for young, inexperienced, low-skilled workers. The loss of wealth in our society from the absence of these jobs is unseen and therefore hard to appreciate, but it’s there.

  8. Very well put. Too often is the delicate dance of management and labor ignored for a far more simplistic view of “us vs. them.”

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