A week after the GOP-led Senate rejected an increase to the minimum wage, Senate Democrats on Tuesday vowed to block pay raises for members of Congress until the minimum wage is increased.
"We're going to do anything it takes to stop the congressional pay raise this year, and we're not going to settle for this year alone," Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said at a Capitol news conference.
... During the past nine years, as Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to increase the minimum wage, members of Congress have voted to give themselves pay raises -- technically "cost of living increases" -- totaling $31,600...
I have an idea: Let's link congressional pay raises to the minimum wage permanently. If Republicans want to block a minimum-wage increase, fine -- they get no pay raise. No minimum wage increase for a decade or two? No pay raise for a decade or two.
And what happens if some future libertarian-leaning Congress manages to abolish the minimum wage altogether (which I wouldn't rule out)? Well, if the minimum pay for ordinary citizens is left strictly to the discretion of employers, then the same thing should happen to congressional pay: Leave it to the discretion of Congress's employers, i.e., the voters. Put congressional pay up for a vote.
I don't think most members would like the result of that.
Democrats are fighting for a minimum-wage increase and improvements in the Medicare drug benefit while Republicans have devised a Contract with America's Right-Wing Lunatic Fringe:
... One [GOP bill] would ... strip the Supreme Court and other federal courts of jurisdiction over cases challenging the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance. The legislation is a response to a 2002 Appeals Court ruling that held the pledge is unconstitutional because of the presence of the words "under God." ...
Another measure would block the payment of attorney fees in challenges to the display of the Ten Commandments in public areas and other, similar church-state lawsuits.
An abortion-related proposal would require that some women seeking to end their pregnancies be informed the procedure "will cause the unborn child pain" and they have the option of receiving drugs to reduce or eliminate it. A separate measure would ban human cloning, a prohibition that cleared the House in the previous Congress.
... One [bill] would prohibit the confiscation of legal firearms during national emergencies, barring practices such as the one that officials said arose in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit....
House Republicans also said they would hold a vote on legislation to apply gambling laws to the Internet.
If you went out into the general public and asked Americans to rank-order these issues along with, say, 125 other issues, in order of importance, these would all rank way down in the triple-digit range. Yet on the wingnut lunatic fringe -- trust me, I lurk at Free Republic and Lucianne.com all the time -- these are the pressing issues of our time. In Wingnuttia, they'd rather see these laws passed than see cancer cured. (Well, maybe not the gambling law -- I don't know where the hell that came from. Oh, wait -- yes I do.)
Sneering mainstream pundits denounce Democrats as selling out the unwashed crazies every time they move an inch to the left of right-center -- yet the GOP panders to far-right crazies this way and no one says a word. Court-stripping, Joe Klein? Unrestricted guns in a disaster zone, Mark Halperin? Your thoughts?