Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Boehner Unmasked

by RALPH NADER

“Nobody working full time should have to live in poverty.” This firm statement of equality comes — surprisingly — from a July 2006 letter from 26 House Republicans to then Majority Leader John Boehner. The letter goes on to say: “We believe it is time for Congress to take responsible action to raise the minimum wage and ensure our hard working constituents can provide for their families.”

This sentiment doesn’t sound much like the 2014 rhetoric of the craven, corporatist Republican Party, yet six of those original signers are still in Congress today. They are Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). Unfortunately, these six have chosen to abandon or ignore all recent proposals to raise the minimum wage, an issue that is supported by over 80 percent of the American people. Millions of Americans today are working full-time jobs and are living in poverty — what has changed for these members of Congress since 2006?

Boehner himself has repeatedly called raising the minimum wage “bad policy” and “a job killer.” This is in direct conflict with the opinions of numerous economists who argue that a higher minimum wage would have little negative effect on employers. According to a report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), two-thirds of low-wage workers are employed by large, highly profitable multinational corporations. Low wages at these profit-rich giants such as Walmart and McDonalds result in the government paying billions of dollars in government assistance for their struggling employees. This cost is ultimately transferred to taxpayers — an issue that many fiscally-minded conservatives are starting to recognize. After all, why should taxpayers shell out $1.2 billion a year to help McDonald’s pay its workers while the fast-food giant rakes in $5.5 billion in profit?

So where is the leadership of John Boehner? What will it take for Speaker Boehner to schedule a vote in the House of Representatives on raising the minimum wage?

Mr. Boehner’s past statements are not encouraging. Consider that Boehner told The Weekly Standard back in 1996 that he’d “commit suicide” before voting on “a clean minimum wage bill.” Perhaps it should come as no surprise — after all, Boehner is so firmly on the side of corporate profits over the interest of the people that I have suggested in the past that he wear a suit comprised of the logos of his many corporate sponsors, much like a NASCAR driver. (Here’s a mockup.) Boehner can thank these wealthy corporate paymasters for much of the $18 million he raised in the 2012 election season — running unopposed!

Public opinion is clearly not on Mr. Boehner’s side. A recent poll shows that 80 percent of Americans, including 62 percent of Republicans, support raising the minimum wage.

Today, the poverty line for a single parent with two children is $19,790 per year, which by 2016, adjusted for inflation, will be $20,633 per year. This is considerably more than the yearly salary for a full-time minimum wage worker. The admonition of those House Republicans, who in 2006 supported raising the minimum wage, is still a living reality for many millions of toiling workers.

The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour — $15,080 per year. The living wage for a single parent with two children in John Boehner’s own Butler County, Ohio is $22.41 per hour according to MIT’s “Living Wage Calculator.” This works out to about $46, 609 per year.

Simply put, John Boehner is actively working against the interests of his own constituency. He is firmly and unabashedly in the pockets of big money interests and has turned his back on the needs of the American people and their children.

Perhaps the six Republican Congresspersons named above — “The Minimum Wage Six” — could be convinced to come back to the position they once held, that nobody working full-time in America should have to live in poverty. Perhaps a push within Boehner’s own party might change his rigid, anti-worker stance. Thirty-nine House Republicans and 24 Republican senators voted to increase the minimum wage in 2007. Seven years later, the plight of American workers has worsened and the moral and economic reasons for raising the minimum wage are even more compelling. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) recently filed a discharge petition that, if successful, would force a vote on the minimum wage on the House floor. Some Republican House members, like West Virginia representative Shelley Moore Capito, have said they look forward to a debate about raising the minimum wage. She and other Republican House members now have the opportunity to put words into action by signing Rep. Bishop’s discharge petition to have that public debate.

Mr. Boehner has hidden behind his robotic, bad rhetoric for far too long. At the very least, he should allow a vote on a bill that restores the minimum wage to its purchasing power in 1968. This would restore one-third of the purchasing power lost by consumers over the past 46 years. It’s good for workers, good for the economy, and good for taxpayers.

Is it the job of members of Congress to serve the interests of their corporate pay masters or to support the working class of 30 million Americans whose wages have failed to keep up with inflation as corporate profits and bosses pay have soared?

See TimeForARaise.org for more on our work on this issue.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail