Recently the Congress passed legislation regarding a higher minimum wage. I’ve addressed some of the arguments about this before ("A Zero-Sum Wage" July 28, 2006; "First Post of 2007" January 5, 2007.) This legislative session, however, had a few quirks.
Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi represents California’s 8th district, which includes San Francisco. She has pushed hard for the 40% increase in the minimum wage. This federal minimum wage is supposed to affect all U.S. states, territories and possessions.
Segue to Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, the non-voting Democrat representative from Samoa. He requested an exemption for Samoa. It seems that 80% of the employment in Samoa is with two tuna processing plants, one of which belongs to StarKist tuna. The increase in the minimum wage, he said, would be devastating to his country’s economy.
The minimum wage legislation as initially proposed and promoted by Nancy Pelosi included this exemption. No other states, territories or possessions were exempt. Only Samoa.
As it turns out, StarKist tuna is owned by the Del Monte company. And the Del Monte’s company headquarters are in....San Francisco.
There was enough of an uproar by Republicans over this barefaced double standard that Pelosi was forced to back down, and Samoa is now covered by the minimum wage law. Pelosi, however, has been exposed as the fraud she is. She ignored her own arguments about "human suffering" in her zeal to protect the profits of the corporation in her district.
Also, by attempting this piece of underhanded chicanery, she acknowledged that raising the minimum wage is harmful to the economy. If it was bad for Samoa, won’t it be bad for America?
Democrats are eager to take credit for projects and programs that other people pay for. But when there’s a risk that they will have to pick up the tab, they quickly look for a way to change the rules. To Democrats, there’s no such thing as "take home pay" - it all belongs to them. They love OPM.
An addendum to highlight how the Democrats work: Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina asked a question of Democrat Barney Frank, who was in the House chair (to temporarily lead the House.) The topic was stem-cell research. McHenry began to ask about the possibility of exempting Samoa from the stem cell bill, but before he could complete his question, Frank interrupted him, and would not allow him to speak. The exchange went on for nearly five minutes, but Frank refused to allow McHenry to speak. (In all fairness, the question was one of parliamentary procedure, but Frank's refusal to let him speak was despotic.)
That's how the party in control of Congress should act. Republicans, pay attention.