Steve Russell: GOP goes with scare tactics in mininum wage fight

The Chickasaw Nation is among several tribes in Oklahoma that have increased the minimum wage for employees. Shown here is a tribal center in Ardmor. Photo from Facebook

Tribes across the nation have been raising their minimum wage as states and other communities do so the same. So why does the Republican Party oppose increases? Steve Russell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, looks at the politics fueling the debate:
The left coast and the right coast, California and New York, have gotten on board for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. That has been Bernie Sanders’ position. Hillary Clinton bids $12 an hour. The Economist reported last year that if the U.S. followed the same standards as most industrialized nations, the minimum wage would be $12 an hour.

The other party is generally opposed to any minimum wages set by government. The Pew Research Center reported last year that 71 percent of all people favored increasing the minimum wage but only 53 percent of Republicans. The GOP line is that a minimum wage “kills jobs.” You know, like Obamacare was supposed to do?

The meme that Obamacare would destroy jobs or cause massive shifts from full time to part time work was focus group tested to scare voters and fed though the right wing propaganda machine of talk radio and Fox News. A focus group can tell you how to scare people but it can’t cause the fearsome thing to happen.

The employment figures just released show the 73rd consecutive month of private sector job growth. This is the longest streak since records started being kept in 1939. President Reagan had a streak of 71 months. President Clinton would have had a streak of 85 months and taken the brass ring but for a monster blizzard that shut down the entire East Coast in January of 1996.

The Labor Department began tracking part time employment in 1968, when 13.5 percent of U.S. employees were part time. Part time employment went up over the years and peaked at 20.1 percent in 2010, which happens to be the year Obamacare was signed into law. The entire part time spike was after the Great Recession and before Obamacare. The number now is 18.4 percent and the trend is down.

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Steve Russell: Why the Poor Vote Like They're Billionaires (Indian Country Today 4/13)

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