Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Last Call For Lost Wages

Over at Nate's House O' Numbers, econ writer Ben Casselman crunches the data on who exactly earns minimum wage.  Republicans contend that it's mostly teenagers and college kids living at home earning under $10.10 an hour (the level Democrats in Congress want to raise the minimum wage to), Democrats argue the majority of these low-wage workers are single-income people supporting a household.

Not surprisingly, it turns out the Democrats are right.

According to the survey, in 2013 more than 25 million people earned less than $10.10 an hour, which amounts to an annual salary of roughly $21,000. That’s nearly eight times the number of Americans who work for the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or less. Low-wage workers tend to be older than their minimum-wage counterparts: Nearly 60 percent, or 15 million Americans, of this group is 25 years old or older compared to about half of minimum-wage workers.

So these aren't teenagers, and Republicans are ignorant.  Shocking, I know.

What we really want to know, however, isn’t how old these workers are — it’s how many of them are trying to support themselves and their families on these wages. To estimate that number, we first need to define what we mean by “supporting themselves.” We’ll start by eliminating both teenagers and retirees from our count, limiting ourselves to people between the ages of 20 and 64. A substantial — and increasing — number of young adults are living with their parents, so we’ll also exclude anyone under 30 whose parent is in the same household. A trickier question is how to handle multiple-earner households; we’ll include anyone who is unmarried, whose spouse is absent or doesn’t work, or whose spouse is also a low-wage worker.

Which all seems like a pretty good set of criteria.

Based on that definition, there were 13 million Americans, out of the 25 million low-wage earners, who were trying to support themselves on less than $10.10 per hour in 2013. Some 4.5 million of them were also raising children.

More than half of people earning under $10.10 an hour are trying to live on that wage.


In other words, when Bush became President and took a giant crap on the economy, the percentage of people trying to live on the equivalent of $10.10 an hour or less in 2013 dollars went from 37% in 2001 to 51% in 2009.  It's still about 52% today.

That's what his "compassionate conservatism" and wasting trillions in Iraq and Afghanistan did.

The Real Assault On Press Freedoms

Reminder from the Courier-Journal editorial board: this is how Mitch McConnell and Republicans deal with journalists.

It must be terrifying to be a public official and be confronted by reporters who want to ask tough questions that you would rather avoid.

But Kentucky's senior Sen. Mitch McConnell, who as Senate minority leader is one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington, has found a novel solution.

Police protection.

Staff for Mr. McConnell — who is seeking a sixth U.S. Senate term — had a Louisville Metro Police officer bar a reporter with LEO Weekly, an alternative magazine in Louisville, from a campaign press conference Monday.

When Joe Sonka, LEO news editor, attempted to enter the room at Louisville's Hilton Garden Inn with other reporters gathered for a news conference, an LMPD officer blocked his access, according to Courier-Journal political writer Joseph Gerth.

No one with the campaign offered any plausible answers why.

You can complain about the Obama administration avoiding questions all you want to.  But remember, it's Republicans who are using the power of their office to detain the press and even threatening them with physical harm.  This is how Republicans deal with those who oppose them in the end, fascist police tactics and violence. 

The GOP is the real threat to free press in this country.

Meanwhile, In New Jersey...

So with Bridgegate still simmering as the scandal expands to more of New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie's staff...

Gov. Chris Christie’s chief political strategist was included in discussions about the George Washington Bridge lane closure controversy, according to newly released emails.

Mike DuHaime, who has previously escaped scrutiny as members of Christie’s administration have been hit with subpoenas, was forwarded on a December email from a campaign worker asking how to respond to a media inquiry.

...and the investigations continuing while the calls for real reform mount...

The better answer is to appoint a top prosecutor with sufficient independence and integrity. Much like the state’s top judges, the attorney general serves a fixed term and can’t be fired by the governor for political purposes. He or she is expected to operate without fear of reprisals, and the Legislature has the power to block any questionable nominee.

Christie’s current pick, Kevin O’Dowd, is his former chief of staff, and can’t serve until his role in Bridgegate is definitively answered. It was his deputy who sent the note, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” And does his role as a Christie confidante make him less likely to be an independent officer of the law? That should also be on the agenda for his confirmation hearing.

In the meantime, Christie’s acting attorney general should assign a few staffers to the Bridgegate investigation, to focus on violations of state law. We need to rebuild the capacity of this office. Christie should have chosen a truly independent prosecutor for the job, instead of hiring Hoffman, a political ally. We saw the same problem on the state ethics commission, where he installed a loyalist as director.

Until the governor does that, the state’s top law enforcement office will also be discredited as just another puppet of this administration.

 ...Christie needs another scandal right now like he needs another hole in his head.

Meet his new friend Hole In The Head, who has just moved in, crashed on the couch, and is eating all the leftover Chinese food in the fridge.

But once he was elected, Governor Christie moved to award big pension management contracts to the Wall Street donors who have helped boost his political fortunes. In his second year in office, Christie’s administration proposed giving Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Associates, a contract to manage $200 million in state public pension funds. Elliott Associates won the contract in 2012. Singer again demonstrated his political loyalty to Christie in December 2013, shortly after Christie became chair of the RGA, a coveted post for GOP presidential aspirants. This time, Singer gave the group $1.25 million, making him the largest contributor that year and significantly enlarging the RGA’s war chest under Christie.

Another hedge fund manager with close political ties to Christie, Daniel Loeb, has also won big contracts to manage state retiree money under the governor, The Nation has found.

More payola nonsense.  Christie awarded huge NJ state pension fund contracts to his biggest Wall Street donors?  Isn't that the reason Gov. Jon Corzine lost to Christie in a landslide?

Of course I've been saying Christie is a corrupt Republican (but I repeat myself) for years now.

Funny how I was right all along.
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