Tag Archive: Republicans

Raising the minimum wage is a bad idea

This corn is delicious. Raising the minimum wage is not.

The New Years’ resolution of the Democrat Party was to gear up for the bloody midterm brawl, and the weapon of choice this year is the issue of income inequality. On its face, this is a good choice; after all, Republicans have struggled enormously over the past fifty years to define themselves as the compassionate party and still have not succeeded in doing so, and I would be surprised if they manage to put together a sound, succinct, and sensical argument against the minimum wage.

The minimum wage is a form of social policy that is nearly impossible to stop. The average person considers employees at McDonalds, Burger King, and Walmart employees and thinks to himself how great it would be for these low-skilled laborers to get paid a better wage. By this logic, a law raising the minimum wage would be enormously helpful to these people and their families.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a report this week detailing the effects of a minimum wage increase on the US economy, and it depicts results that are the exact opposite of what Democrats have predicted vociferously across the airwaves for weeks. The idyllic minimum wage helps the poor get back on their feet; but according to the CBO, only 19% of the employees who would benefit from an increased minimum wage live below the poverty line, while the people who would benefit the most (roughly 30%) have incomes three times the poverty line. What’s more, whatever positive effect a minimum wage increase might have for the poor will be reversed by staggering job losses, as firms employing minimum wage workers cut employees to avoid shouldering the billions of additional labor costs such a measure involves. The CBO’s midrange estimate of job losses is 500,000, but I would not be surprised if that number ended up being higher in the end.

So as nice as a minimum wage may sound, it fails to accomplish its basic purpose and cripples the futures of new laborers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 23% of employed teenagers paid by the hour “earned the minimum wage or less,” while only 3% of workers older than 25 claimed the same wage. Minimum wage jobs constitute a minute slice of actual employment, as evidenced by these statistics, but they help young people get their foot in the door of the labor market. It takes a significant amount of time, money, and training to prepare someone for a job, even if it is as simple as flipping burgers at a local McDonalds, and having to pay a high school student ten or twenty dollars an hour to do such a job makes hiring such a person an enormous inconvenience, if not a burden. A high minimum wage reduces the incentive of employers to hire inexperienced workers and therefore serves as an obstacle to the success of the next generation in the workplace.

Taken in the context of the weak US economy, raising the minimum wage is the wrong move at the wrong time. Minimum wage jobs are a transition to bigger and better employment, not a route to starvation, and we need to give more young people the opportunity to begin making their own ways in the world. The young in America deserve a chance to make their own way and to live on their own. If President Obama and the Democrats truly desire income equality, they should lower the minimum wage to help bring young people into the labor force to drive the economy at large.

Obamacare will revive the GOP

Outspent and outrun in every way, Ken Cuccinelli closed a 15-point gap with Democrat opponent Terry McAuliffe to a mere 3-points.

Outspent and outrun in every way, Ken Cuccinelli closed a 15-point gap with Democrat opponent Terry McAuliffe to a mere 3 points.

In Tuesday’s off-year elections, Democrat Terry McAuliffe squeaked by social conservative Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia gubernatorial race, winning the state by a slim three point margin. Yet, the usual liberal prognostications of a blue Virginia and a blue sweep in next year’s midterm elections were non-existent. Why?

Because only a week earlier, Ken Cuccinelli had been losing by double-digits, and the only reason for his comeback was Terry McAuliffe’s own party. The last week-and-a-half of the Cuccinelli campaign saw a wave of Obamacare horror stories hit the airwaves. Millions of Americans saw their health care plans canceled this month, revealing the untruth of President Obama’s repeated assurances that no one would lose his/her health care plan or doctor. Congressional hearings saw Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius take a verbal beating from Republicans brandishing angry letters from their newly-uninsured constituents and receive softball questions and shielding from safe-seat Democrats. In one heated exchange, New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone refused to yield the floor as he labeled the entire committee a “monkey court.”

In previous articles, I have expressed my own frustration at the lack of desire on the part of Democrats to solve the Obamacare mess and to mend the lives of the millions of Americans who are now uninsured as a result of the president’s health care plan, and it is becoming increasingly clear that Americans are feeling this same frustration as well. Promised by their president and by liberal Democrats that they would keep their health care coverage, the American people are appalled and angry at the flippant attitude of their blue representatives toward their health care coverage. Democrat after Democrat on Capitol Hill this week has dismissed the mass hemorrhage of health coverage as a lifesaving replacement of “junk plans” with those which the federal government deems appropriate, but the fact is that all of this political posturing intends to cover up the massive fib Democrats and President Obama told in order to to ram the Affordable Care Act down the throats of the American people. And just as Americans have begun to turn against Obamacare as their premiums rise and their plans are canceled, Virginians began to turn. Though dominated by federal employees, who will be largely unaffected by the new rules and regulations of the ACA, Virginia turned out for Mr. Cuccinelli in droves and almost gave him a victory. Had Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis not been in the race, Ken Cuccinelli would have turned Virginia red.

But let’s not pretend that Ken Cuccinelli was a perfect candidate. A large part of why Mr. Cuccinelli’s comeback was so remarkable can be found in his smorgasbord of flaws. A social conservative, Cuccinelli faced ruthless bashing for his traditional views about marriage and homosexual relationships, and his belief that abortion should not be allowed in any circumstances except to preserve the mother’s life gave Mr. McAuliffe plenty of ammunition for attack ads painting the former attorney general as an extreme social conservative. To top it off, Cuccinelli’s poorly-run campaign failed to attract support from Republican Party donors – who had written off the soft-spoken Tea Party favorite as a dead duck – and was outspent almost 3-to-1 in the final week of the election. But in spite of all of his negatives, Cuccinelli managed to close the gap. 

This election marks the beginning of the end of Obamacare and Democratic control of the Senate, and Democrats know it. On Wednesday, fifteen Senate Democrats – all up for reelection next November – met with President Obama off the record to discuss the botched rollout and the cancellations rippling across the country. They all see the writing on the wall, and I can guarantee that you will see some interesting flip-flops from this group of politicians over the next six months regarding Obamacare. One of these Democrats, Senator Mary Landrieu (D, La.), is already backtracking, authoring a bill of her own that would allow Americans to keep their health care plans if they keep up with their payments. But four years ago, she and all of her Democrat colleagues voted against the same proposal, one that a Republican had put forward in the Senate around the time of the ACA’s passage.

In truth, Ms. Landrieu is too late to the party. The cake is all gone, and there is little hope for Senate Democrats as they enter the election cycle next year. With the tidal wave of cancellations we have seen in the individual market, Senate Democrats will have to convince Americans that the employer mandate – which will be enforced next year – will not have the same effect on the health insurance market, and doing that will be damn near impossible.

President Obama is losing credibility and losing it fast. With the humiliating erasure of the Syrian “red line,” the leader of the free world has taken a massive body blow, and his opponents at home are finally taking the opportunity to go for a K.O.

Faced with pressure from crimson conservatives like Ted Cruz (right), House Speaker Boehner (left) has no choice but to initiate a showdown with the White House.

Faced with pressure from crimson conservatives like Ted Cruz (right), House Speaker Boehner (left) has no choice but to initiate a showdown with the White House.

Republicans, even in the sea of red that is currently called the House of Representatives, have been timid at best in their opposition to President Obama’s policy directives since the 2012 election. Over the past ten months, we have seen a growing fissure emerge within the GOP, with the more conservative elements of the party pulling away from centrist and moderate Republicans, who don’t want to risk hemorrhaging the party’s election gains by pushing too hard for policy objectives. However, in light of the president’s recent failures abroad and the growing unpopularity of Obamacare, fate has handed the centrist faction of the Republican party a chance to stop the party infighting and to tackle the fiscal fiasco our nation is currently facing.

As I predicted, Obamacare – with months to go before its full implementation – is collapsing under the weight of the problems it has created. Many Americans who were indifferent to or even supportive of the law are turning into its harshest critics as employers, ranging from local governments to Carl’s Jr., across America dump their full-time workers and, in many cases, stop offering health insurance altogether. A USA Today poll shows that only a quarter of Americans believe Obamacare will be good for their families, and according to a new Rasmussen poll (an indirect link to which I have here), 51% of Americans support a government shutdown to defund Obamacare and gut federal spending. Yes, you read that right. A majority of Americans want to shut down the government to repeal Obama’s signature legislative achievement, and it is for this reason that I believe our nation has a real chance, however slim, at a balanced budget this year. If conservatives can convince centrist Republicans, particularly Speaker Boehner, to shut down the government and to stand united in opposition to the funding of Obamacare, I am certain that the law will finally be excised from the books. And from the looks of it, Republicans are gearing up for the fight. Just this week, the GOP announced a health care plan of its own, and Speaker Boehner has put his full weight behind the passage of the bill that would keep the government running but defund Obama’s healthcare law.

These are exciting times in Washington. Who knows: maybe they’ll get something done this time.

How can the nation weather this catastrophic deluge of bad policy? Photo from hmerinomx.

How can the nation weather this catastrophic deluge of bad policy? Photo from hmerinomx.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone! It has been a very tumultuous couple of weeks on Capitol Hill, with some new iteration of a compromise surfacing almost every day, only to be scrapped hours later. So today marks the first significant, lasting event of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations and, to date, the most difficult situation for the Republican party that I have seen in the past four years: massive across-the-board tax increases.

The Republican Party has had a tremendous amount of difficulty communicating its philosophy from the onset of the fiscal cliff negotiations and, for that matter, President Obama’s first term in office. Despite being an extraordinarily charitable, giving man, Mitt Romney failed to overcome the “evil rich guy” image that frightened away voters on Election Day and led to his downfall. He was not a bad candidate, but he was a bad communicator. The same can be said about Republicans throughout this fiscal cliff fiasco. Every time I see President Obama and his minions on TV, they are babbling on about how the President’s party supports “middle-class tax cuts” and “help for small businesses.” True or not (I’m inclined to think that it is not), these assertions make the Democrats look like the little guy’s party, the group of tuned-in politicians that has the average Joe’s back. And in politics, perception is everything.

Take for example, House Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B. He unveiled this proposal, which included a tax on millionaires, a week or two ago. This plan gave the Republicans a crucial opportunity to overcome their long-standing label as the party of the rich and to destroy the Democrat’s PR efforts. Should the bill fail in the Senate due to Democratic “no” votes, it would become clear to the American people that the Republicans were open to compromise and that the Democrats were obstructing negotiations.

But what happened? Boehner’s Plan B died in the House at the hands of conservative Republicans. Consumed by ideological purity, many Republicans voted against the proposal just to maintain their anti-tax credentials, unconcerned with the real impact of their actions. Fast forward to today. Taxes have increased on almost everyone, and now the President holds all the cards. If the GOP doesn’t give the President what he wants, Republicans will take the blame for the fiscal cliff standoff and will suffer in the 2014 election.

Is there a solution to this crisis? Maybe, but only if the Republicans maximize their leverage in the coming weeks. America has hit the debt ceiling, and Democrats need the Republican House to lift the ceiling and give the Obama administration more spending power. At this crucial juncture, the GOP needs to leverage the debt ceiling issue in order to get significant spending cuts. Not the ridiculous “$1 trillion over 10 years” monkey business, real, lasting cuts. We need to reduce our debt now, and the only way to do that is to stop borrowing and to start paying off our massive debt. The same strategy applies to tax cuts. If the GOP wants to get tax cuts, they should offer cuts up to the $1 million tax bracket in addition to this spending reduction package. Without giving anything to the Democrats, the Republicans will take all the blame for the fiscal cliff crisis. But, if the party can reduce America’s debt, will blame matter? Could a government shutdown be worth the loss of party power? Maybe. And this is the question that the Republican party has to answer as the debt ceiling negotiations begin in the coming days.

In their speeches last night, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ann Romney brought down the house with their incredible speeches. Christie gave a rousing speech about protecting the next generation of Americans and reigning in big government, while Ann Romney took a more heartwarming approach, humanizing Mitt Romney by talking about their life together over the past several decades. Both speeches, in my opinion, were a stunning success.

MSNBC didn’t see fit to broadcast Mr. Davis and the GOP’s other minority speakers because doing so would have shattered the Democratic belief that the Republican party purely consists of old, rich white men.

However, almost better than Christie or Ann’s speeches was the oratory given by a former Democratic Representative Artur Davis, who switched parties in 2010 after failing to get the Democratic Party’s nomination in the Alabama governor’s race that year. An African-American, Mr. Davis was an Obama supporter in 2008, but he has since changed his mind because of the failure of the president’s policies and his unwillingness to try a new approach. In his remarks, Davis called upon “Democrats and independents” who supported Obama in the previous election to reconsider their allegiance with the president.

Davis’ charismatic and impactful speech apparently, however, did not deserve any air time whatsoever. MSNBC steamrolled right over the speech with “commentary” from Chris Matthews, Al Sharpton, and Rachel Maddow. Incredibly, despite the fact that MSNBC did not even air Davis’ speech or those of two other extremely prominent minority speakers (one a US House candidate from Utah, and another a Texas senatorial hopeful), anchor Chris Matthews accused the Republican Party of being racist and cited Mitt Romney’s joke about President Obama’s birth certificate (a document as unrelated to race as a spoon is to a pen) as evidence of this supposed racism. Well, if Romney is racist for cracking a joke that has absolutely nothing to do with race, should not Mr. Matthews be railing against MSNBC’s producers for not airing the GOP’s minority speakers?

On a more serious note, MSNBC cannot honestly be called a news organization anymore. In order to further the idea that the Republican Party is simply a collection of racist white men, MSNBC willfully and willingly edited out speeches by minorities and therefore silenced some of the most formidable speeches of the Republican National Convention.


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