Nation of Change in a post entitled Democrats Swipe Right Wing ‘Soundbite Magic’ offers the following as what Democrats will talk about in 2014:
“Democrats will bang the drum this year: 1) to keep government open, 2) raise the minimum wage (with midterm ballot propositions), 3) keep unemployment insurance going, however marginal, 4) defend to the death the sanctity of Medicare and Social Security, 5) urge immigration reform overdo for decades, and 6) take pot shots at the open Citizens United spigot. Most will gingerly endorse climate change and gay rights. This campaign only has to be bold enough to dramatize the rightwing contradiction of spending billions to get elected to government, then methodically gumming up the works to prove that government is the enemy.”
Left out is the relationship between the economy and jobs and income inequality. Andy Stern, speaking at Town Hall in Seattle on January 7, 2014 in a talk entitles “Innovation and the Future of Labor” presented a much more complex dialogue that is emerging and that progressives are talking about. What’s happening is that the “economy” is growing but growth in jobs and wages are not. The issue is not just raising the minimum wage, which is important, but in ensuring that all Americans share in the economic growth, not just the top 1% or 2%.
Stern noted that 11 million jobs were lost since 2008 and only 8 to 9 million have come back. And while GDP has gone up by 50% and profits have gone up 70%, wages have gone up only 4%. The profits have gone to the very wealthy at the top, not to the average wage earner. Since the recession started low wage jobs increased from 24% to a majority now.
Many factors have contributed to this but one Stern spent time discussing was the continued increase in the use of robots. The real emerging issue here is as there is less and less need for human labor how do you provide economic support to the masses of people who really can’t find work through no fault of their own. It is not because they are lazy and want to leech off the employed. Our nation is undergoing a real transition in the nature and composition of its workforce and citizens economic livelihood as a result.
Republicans are not addressing these issues at all, falling back on outdated moral righteousness outrage and blaming government overspending and placing blame for issues like unemployment on the victims. Democrats, while increasingly concerned about the profound changes occurring, need to also update their basic understanding of what is happening and work for solutions to address the new economic reality facing our society.
It is a challenge for all of us but we need to start finding solutions soon. Our economic reality of increased joblessness, decreased wages for most Americans despite economic growth, drastically growing income inequality, increased pressures on many citizens ability to meet basic human needs, and the loss of real opportunity and equality for most citizens to better their economic security is increasingly affecting the future of our nation and its citizens.
The infamous Koch Brothers have entered the 2012 Washington State Governor’s race. Surprise – they are supporting Republican Rob McKenna. McKenna is running against former Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee.
On Thursday, October 18, 2012, Americans for Prosperity, based in Arlington filed a C6 with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission that they were spending $27, 985 on a radio ad supporting Rob McKenna.
Wikipedia notes that:
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is an American conservative political advocacy group headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. AFP’s stated mission is “educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing citizens as advocates in the public policy process.” The group played a major role in the Republicans’ 2010 takeover of the House of Representatives, and has been called “one of the most powerful conservative organizations in electoral politics.”
Sourcewatch writes that:
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a group fronting special interests started by oil billionaire David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries). AFP has been accused of funding astroturf operations but also has been fueling the “Tea Party” efforts. AFP’s messages are in sync with those of other groups funded by the Koch Family Foundations and the Koch’s other special interest groups that work against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create. AFP was also involved in the attacks on Obama’s “green jobs” czar, Van Jones, and has crusaded against international climate talks.
So far the spending by Americans for Prosperity is small potatoes in this state but this could quickly change. Kirby Wilbur, the Washington State Republican Party Chair, was the state coordinator for Americans for Prosperity in 2010 and they successfully dumped money into last minute mailers against Democratic legislators who did not have sufficient time to respond to the last minute mailers. They are spending lots of money nationally and are doing it without disclosing their donors. This needs to change in disclosure laws.
As the Guardian in a just released articles states:
Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party-aligned group part-funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, is building a state-of-the-art digital ground operation in Ohio and other vital battleground states to spread its anti-Obama message to voters who could decide the outcome of the presidential election.
The group hopes that by creating a local army of activists equipped with sophisticated online micro-targeting tools it will increase its impact on moderate voters, nudging them towards a staunchly conservative position opposed to President Obama’s economic and healthcare policies. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is spending tens of millions of dollars developing its local strategy, already employing more than 200 permanent staff in 32 states. …
AFP has already spent $30m so far this election cycle in opposing President Obama and other prominent Democratic candidates and their policies. It says it aims to reach up to 9 million targeted voters in crucial swing states, through the efforts of its 2 million activists.
Kathleen Drew, who is running for Washington Secretary of State, is a top priority race for Progressive Majority. Washington State was one of the first states that Progressive Majority got involved in. They have has a good record of helping to elect progressive candidates and are now involved in campaigns in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas in addition to Washington.
Besides Kathleen Drew, here are the other candidates Progressive Majority is prioritizing for help in the Nov 6, 2012 General Election:
Steve Bergquist, State Representative, District 11
Roslynne Reed, Mason County Commissioner, District 2
Marcus Riccelli, State Representative, District 3
Tom Riggs, State Representative, District 10
David Sawyer, State Representative, District 29
Yoshie Wong, State Senator, District 28
Linda Wright, State Representative, District 39
Here is the short writeup Progressive Majority put up about Kathleen Drew.
|Kathleen Drew is running for Secretary of State in the state of Washington. She is the only Democratic woman running for constitutional statewide office this year and if elected, will be the first Democrat elected Secretary of State in Washington since 1960. A long-time resident of Washington, Kathleen has a long record of public service marked by the successful advocacy for issues ranging from ethics to environment. In 1992, Kathleen was elected to the State Senate, becoming the youngest woman ever to hold that office. As a public servant, Kathleen wrote the state’s ethics laws for state employees and elected officials and worked with three west coast governors to promote ocean health.|
On January 1, 2012 Washington State’s minimum wage will increase to $9.04. Once again Washington State will lead the nation in having the highest minimum wage. Oregon’s minimum wage will increase to $8.80.
The minimum wage level of Washington State, Oregon and 8 other state’s is indexed to inflation and the consumer price index. In 1998 Washington voters passed Initiative 688. It was the first state to index it’s minimum wage to inflation and set the standard for other states to follow rather than every few years waging battles to try to increase the minimum wage when inflation went up. The other eight states are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, and Vermont.
As CNNMoney notes, “Minimum wage rates in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington will rise between 28 and 37 cents per hour on Jan. 1 …Rates in these states will range from $7.64 per hour (in Colorado), to $9.04 (in Washington) in 2012.” Nevada does not raise its minimum wage until July 1st and Missouri, even with an adjustment, does not exceed the Federal minimum wage.
Increasing the minimum wage has positive effects on the economy. As CNNMoney noted:
”The small boosts for 2012 are estimated to tack an extra $582 to $770 a year onto the paychecks of full-time workers, according to the National Employment Law Project, a non-profit advocacy group.
What’s more, the increases could be a mini-boost for the economy. The expected rise in consumer spending as a result of the wage increases would add $366 million to the nation’s gross domestic product and lead to the creation of more than 3,000 full-time jobs.”
The Economic Policy Institute calculates the actual impact in even broader terms.
Across these eight states, an estimated 1,045,000 workers will be “directly affected.” These are workers whose current wages are between the existing state minimum wage and the new Jan. 1 minimum wage. In addition, another 394,000 workers will be “indirectly affected” by the increase. These indirectly-affected workers are those whose current wages are just above the new Jan. 1 minimum, and are likely to also see a wage increase as employers adjust their overall pay structures to reflect the new minimum (the “spillover” effect).
Despite the benefits of indexing the minimum wage to inflation, the national minimum wage is not indexed to inflation. Thus as the cost of goods like food and gas go up, the buying ability of minimum wage workers decreases. The current Federal wage is currently only $7.25. That’s just a little over $15,000 a year.
The federal minimum wage needs to be indexed to inflation. Congress has a dismal record of increasing the minimum wage. From 1997 to 2007, the minimum wage was stuck at $5.15 despite increases in inflation. In legislation passed in 2007 it went up to $5.85 in June 2007, then to $6.55 in June 2008 and then to $7.25 in June 2009. No further increase have been made in the last 2 1/2 years.
Barack Obama, as part of his transition team agenda, said he would work to raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation. We need to hold him to his promise and to put Democrats and Republicans on the spot as to standing up for helping low income workers make it in this economy. Republicans will voice all their usual objections but there is no better way to convince voters of whose interests they really represent than to challenge them to support working Americans by raising the minimum wage for the lowest paid workers.
And progressives in the states that have initiatives would be wise to run minimum wage initiatives with an inflation index in 2012. With all the attention on the vast disparity of wealth distribution in this country that has gotten worse, its time to put on the ballot measures that work to redress this imbalance and that point out the differences between the goals of Republicans and Democrats. Democrats have joined with Labor in working to help raise the pay of lower wage earners. Republicans have not.
The following includes the latest endorsements by the 36th District Democrats for the August 16, 2011 Primary and also for the November General Election:
The 33rd District Democrats in South King County have made the following endorsements for the August 16, 2011 Primary Election:
King County Council District No. 8: Joe McDermott
King County Assessor: Lloyd Hara
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 2: Gael Tarleton
Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 5: Dean Willard
City of SeaTac Council Position No. 1: Barry Ladenburg
City of SeaTac Council Position No. 3: Othman Heibe
City of SeaTac Council Position No. 5: Dave Bush
City of SeaTac Council Position No. 7: Mia Su-Ling Gregerson
City of Tukwila Mayor: Pamela Linder
City of Tukwila Council Position No. 6: Kate Kruller
Court of Appeals, Division No. 1, District No. 1 Judge Position No. 2: Michael Spearman
South King Fire and Rescue Commissioner Position No. 4: Mark L. Thompson
South King Fire and Rescue Commissioner Position No. 5: James A. Fossos
Highline School District Director Position No. 1: Sili Savusa
The 37th District Democrats in South Seattle have made their endorsements for the August 16, 2011 Primary.. It is a top 2 Primary with the top 2 voter getters in a race moving on to the November ballot. It is an all mail in ballot and voters must have their ballots postmarked by Tuesday August 16, 2011 to count,
37th District Democrats Primary Endorsements:
King County Measures
King County Proposition No. 1 Renewal of the Veterans and Human Services Levy
King County Candidates
Joe McDermott – King County Council District 8
Dean Willard – Port of Seattle Commission Position 5
Local and Municipal Candidates
Bobby Forch – Seattle City Council Position 1
Tom Rasmussen – Seattle City Council Position 5
Sally J. Clark – Seattle City Council Position 9
Ed Prince – Renton City Council Position 5
Kate Kruller – Tukwila City Council Position 6
Local and Municipal Measures
City of Tukwila Proposition No. 1 Formation and Funding of Tukwila Pool Metropolitan Park District
The 43rd District Democrats in Seattle have completed their Primary 2011 Endorsements. The all mail in Primary ends on August 16, 2011. Ballets are mailed to voters and must be postmarked by Tuesday August 16, 2011 to be valid.
- King County Council District 2: Larry Gossett
- King County Council District 4: Larry Phillips
- King County Council District 6: Joe McDermott
- King County Assessor: Lloyd Hara
- King County Director of Elections: Sherril Huff
Seattle City Council
- Seattle City Council Position 1: Maurice Classen
- Seattle City Council Position 5: Tom Rasmussen
- Seattle City Council Position 7: Tim Burgess
- Seattle City Council Position 9: Sally Clark
Seattle School Board
Port of Seattle Commission
- Port of Seattle Commission Position 2: Gael Tarleton
- Port of Seattle Commission Position 5: Dean Willard
- Proposition 1 – Veterans and Human Services Levy: Approve
Tim Kaine has sent out the following e-mail to Democrats announcing his decision to run in 2012 for US Senator in Virginia. Jim Webb, the current US Senator, has previously announced he would not be running for re-election.
Dear DNC Members,I am writing to let you know that I have just announced my decision to run for the U.S. Senate from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2012. To that end, I am stepping down as DNC Chair, effective immediately.In the coming days, I will share some thoughts on my decision to run, my appreciation for the opportunity you gave me to serve as your Chair, and what we were able to accomplish together.In the meantime, I am sure you will be as supportive of the President’s choice to replace me as you have been of me for the past two years. There will be more information about this important transition to follow.I will treasure the friendships I’ve made during my time at the DNC, and hope that we will maintain those friendships in the years ahead.It is an exciting time for the DNC. It is also an exciting next chapter for my family and me, as I embark down a new path on which I hope to serve as one of Virginia’s U.S. Senators.Thank you for your hard work and support along the way and for all that you will do in the months and years ahead.With gratitude,Tim Kaine
Kaine also has a video up at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mBX1TotZYtk announcing his decision.
Washington State’s minimum wage continues to lead the nation. On January 1, 2011 it will increase 12 cents per hour to $8.67 per hour. As reported by Rachael La Corte in today’s Seattle Times, an attempt by business interests in Washington State to challenge the 12 cent increase was rejected by a Kittitas County Judge after a motion for summary judgement to prevent it going into effect on Saturday. The lawsuit still remains active according to the article.
Groups challenging the minimum wage increase included the Washington Restaurant Association, the Washington Farm Bureau and the Washington Retail Association.
According to the article:
A Seattle-based lawyer for Justice for Immigrant Workers said the increase is “a big deal for a lot of people.”
“That 12-cent raise goes further than you think,” Rebecca Smith said. “It’s going to make a difference of a few dollars a week — but a few dollars a week buys an extra loaf of bread, another gallon of milk or a gallon of gas.”
The agency’s decision in October to raise the rate came after conflicting legal opinions from the state attorney general and the authors of the 1998 voter initiative that tied the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index.
The current Federal minimum wage is only $7.25 and has no consumer inflation index adjustment which means that each time inflation goes up nationally, jobs tied to the federal minimum wage see decreased purchasing power for the hours worked. Republicans have consistently opposed Federal minimum wage increases while Democrats have supported them.
Ten states have minimum wages that adjust to index them to inflation. Washington State was the first state to enact legislation to automatically raise the minimum wage based on increases in the consumer price index. The voters enacted the current law by passing Initiative 688 in 1998.
As noted on the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries website:
Initiative 688, approved by Washington voters in 1998, requires L&I to make a cost-of-living adjustment to its minimum wage each year based on the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). This measures the average change in prices on a fixed group of goods and services such as food, shelter, medical care, transportation and other goods and services people purchase for day-to-day living. L&I recalculates the state’s minimum wage in September, and it takes effect the following year on January 1.
The minimum wage in Washington State was $8.55 in 2009 and stayed the same in 2010 because of a decrease in inflation. The minimum wage will increase to $8.67 on Jan 1, 2011. It will be the highest in the nation.
In this year’s Senate election in Washington State, Republican Dino Rossi, supported lowering the minimum wage. Other Republicans this year publicly supported lowering the minimum wage. Amanda Getchel notes that:
Republican candidates Joe Miller of Alaska, John Raese of West Virginia, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Linda McMahon of Connecticut have all called for reducing the minimum wage with Raese flat out saying it should be eliminated.
Only Rand Paul was elected by the voters.
The current Federal minimum wage law was passed in 2007. Washington State Republicans Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Doc Hastings joined with other Republicans nationally to oppose the bill. All 233 Democrats in the House at the time joined with 82 Republicans to support the legislation. 116 Republicans in the House voted no. They include 9 of the incoming 12 members of the House leadership.
Speaker of the House: Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)- VOTED NO
Majority Leader: Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) – VOTED NO
Majority Whip: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) – VOTED NO
Conference Chairman: Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) – VOTED NO
NRCC Chairman: Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) – VOTED NO
Policy Committee Chairman: Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) – VOTED NO
Conference Vice-Chair: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) – VOTED NO
Conference Secretary: Rep. John Carter (R-TX) – VOTED NO
Freshman Representative: Rep.-elect Kristi Noem (R-SD) – NOT IN CONGRESS AT TIME
Freshman Representative: Rep.-elect Tim Scott (R-SC) – NOT IN CONGRESS AT TIME
Rules Committee Representative: Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) – VOTED NO
Chairman of the Leadership: Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) – VOTED YES
Nine of the 12 House Leadership members voted no to raise the minimum wage. Two other members of the incoming House leadership were not in Congress at the time. Only Greg Walden voted NO – Oregon voters previously passed an initiative to index their minimum wage to inflation. Oregon’s minimum wage is near the top in the country.
Prospects for any Federal increase in the minimum wage in the near future looks difficult as long as Republicans control the House.
As noted in a separate article in the Seattle Times seven states will see an increase in their minimum wage in 2011.
Poverty advocates say the rising minimum wages shouldn’t be seen as raises, just adjustments to keep the working poor at the same level as prices of goods rise.
The National Employment Law Project, a New York-based advocate for workers, estimates that about 647,000 people will see their paychecks go up in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Three other states with their minimum wage indexed to inflation did not see enough of an increase to see a rise in their minimum wage – Florida, Nevada and Missouri.
In the near term any increase in the minimum wage will probably have to take place at the state level. In previous initiative efforts to raise the minimum wage in Washington State voters have strongly supported raising the minimum wage. Initiative 688 in 1998 was approved by Washington voters by a 66% yes vote. A previous vote to raise the minimum wage in 1988, Initiative 518, passed with a 77% yes vote. It was not indexed to inflation.
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