Friday, April 5, 2013

Last Call

Why should fast food workers getting 40 hours a week have the dignity of a living wage?  That's crazy talk.

The hosts of Fox & Friends on Friday suggested that fast food workers should stop striking for higher pay and get a second job because the minimum wage “was never meant to be a career wage.”

On Thursday, hundreds of restaurant workers in New York City went on strike to demand a wage of at least $15 an hour. The current median wage of $9 an hour puts workers at about $4,500 lower that the poverty threshold of $23,000 for a family of four. The current minimum wage in New York City is $7.25.

“Here’s the deal, you’re a minimum wage worker, that’s an entry-level salary,” Fox News host Brian Kilmeade opined on Friday. “If you’re good, you’ll get a raise.”

“Minimum wage was never meant to be a career wage. If you work hard you will get higher — you will get more money. Here’s the other thing, as hard as it is in some cases, because you are a single mom or a single dad, you’ve got to get another job. You’ve got to get another job on top of that so you have two incomes.”

“Brian you hit on the nose, I think, the key thing,” co-host Steve Doocy remarked. “If it is a minimum wage job, expect to get paid the minimum wage.”

So, we make it too easy to get welfare to support people because minimum wage jobs were never meant to support people.  I think I found your problem, guys.

I guess Kilmeade and Doocy didn't see the striking fast food workers on last night's All In With Chris Hayes, one of which had worked at Taco Bell for years and had gotten a total career raise of 20 cents an hour as a reward for his hard work.


Maybe when he's been there for 30 years, he'll be making $8 a hour.  The American dream, says the guy paid thousands to be a moron on TV every weekday morning.

Over The Counter, From The Bench, In The Face

A federal judge has scrapped the Obama administration's FDA rules on Plan B contraception being available over the counter, ordering it be made available without age restrictions.

Judge Edward R. Korman, in the case of birth control activist Annie Tummino vs. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburgruled in a highly critical 59-page opinion, “This case has proven to be particularly controversial because it involves access to emergency contraception for adolescents who should not be engaging in conduct that necessitates the use of such drugs and because of the scientifically unsupported speculation that the drug could interfere with implantation of fertilized eggs. Nevertheless, the issue in this case involves the interpretation of a general statutory and regulatory scheme relating to the approval of drugs for over-the-counter sale. The standards are the same for aspirin and for contraceptives. While the FDA properly recognizes that cognitive and behavioral differences undermine ‘the ability of adolescents to make reasoned decisions about engaging in sexual intercourse,’ the standard for determining whether contraceptives or any other drug should be available over-the-counter turns solely on the ability of the consumer to understand how to use the particular drug ‘safely and effectively.’”

Judge Korman's opinion is fairly brutal, basically saying that the ruling was entirely political and "without scientific basis".  Which it was, this was one of the calls President Obama got 100% wrong, and I was far from the only one who called him out on it.

He blasted Sebelius’ decision as blatantly political, saying, “even with eyes shut to the motivation for the Secretary’s decision, the reasons she provided are so unpersuasive as to call into question her good faith” and that “she has failed to offer a coherent justification for denying the over-the-counter sale of levonorgestrel-based emergency contraceptives to the overwhelming majority of women of all ages who may have need for those drugs and who are capable of understanding their correct use.”

The government will mostly likely appeal this ruling, and stupidily, it will go before SCOTUS.  Who knows what they'll do with it, but don't expect Plan B to be available for years, if ever, to those under 18.

President Obama Officially Off The Chain(ed CPI)

The NY Times is reporting that President Obama's budget has a pretty huge concession in it:  recalculating the rate of growth of social safety net benefits through the process of chained CPI.  Jackie Calmes at the Times calls it a "cutback" and she's right.

Besides the tax increases that most Republicans continue to oppose, Mr. Obama’s budget will propose a new inflation formula that would have the effect of reducing cost-of-living payments for Social Security benefits, though with financial protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries, administration officials said. The idea, known as chained C.P.I., has infuriated some Democrats and advocacy groups to Mr. Obama’s left, and they have already mobilized in opposition. 

As Mr. Obama has before, his budget documents will emphasize that he would support the cost-of-living change, as well as other reductions that Republicans have called for in the popular programs for older Americans, only if Republicans agree to additional taxes on the wealthy and infrastructure investments that the president called for in last year’s offer to Mr. Boehner. 

Mr. Obama will propose other spending and tax credit initiatives, including aid for states to make free prekindergarten education available nationwide — a priority outlined in his State of the Union address in February. He will propose to pay for it by raising federal taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. 

“The president has made clear that he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficits, but only in the context of a package like this one that has balance and includes revenues from the wealthiest Americans and that is designed to promote economic growth,” said a senior administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified confirming details about the coming budget. 
“That means,” the official added, “that the things like C.P.I. that Republican leaders have pushed hard for will only be accepted if Congressional Republicans are willing to do more on revenues.” 

It's a moot point in a sense.  Republicans will declare the entire plan DOA anyway, simply because Obama proposed it.  In another sense, it's a major concession as I said before:  retirees will get less money than they would have, meaning this budget is DOA among Dems as well.

So I'm not sure why President Obama is going this route, considering Republicans will reject the entire offer, and Democrats will not support it because of Chained CPI.  At most he'll get a couple dozen votes for it.

That leaves the budget as a negotiation tactic, but again, Republicans have yet to embrace anything that looks like a Grand Bargain.  They wont to annihilate Barack Obama, not negotiate.  

So at this point, either the President is wasting America's time with a budget that will never pass, or wasting his time with a negotiation tactic that will be ignored (and more likely, Republicans will simply say "Obama is the one cutting Medicare, we're protecting it!") and attack him.  

It's east to blame the President's advisers on this for giving lousy advice, but the reality is at this point even I have to admit that after four years of Republicans treating the President as a illegitimate disease who needs to be expunged from American history, if President Obama actually thinks the GOP gives a good goddamn about negotiation, he's crazy.


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