In today's On the News segment: If we could put a price tag on a presidency, it turns out that eight years under George W. Bush cost us about $6.6 trillion; Republicans in Congress say that raising the federal minimum wage would kill jobs, but the facts show that their claim is just a lame excuse for obstruction; after the Supreme Court dealt a blow to public unions, home health workers in Minnesota decided to fight back; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News...
You need to know this. If we could put a price tag on a presidency, it turns out that eight years under George W. Bush cost us about $6.6 trillion. According to an analysis by David Cay Johnston of Al Jazeera America, the inability to maintain the prosperity seen in the year 2000 has cost our nation big time. After comparing average income in that year with each year until 2012, and adjusting for population growth and inflation, Mr. Johnston argues that the Bush Tax Cuts and other policies cost each taxpayer about $48,000. President Bush claimed that those massive tax cuts would "sustain our nation's prosperity" and "promote a higher standard of living for all Americans." However, average income actually shrunk in almost every single year that followed, and 95 percent of all income gains went straight to the top one percent. After decades of Reaganomics, NAFTA, and other policies, the Bush Tax Cuts were like the final nail in the coffin of the middle class. To put this number in perspective, Mr. Johnston explained that $6.6. trillion is enough to pay off all student loans, all car loans, and every credit card bill in America. Instead of the sustained prosperity that Bush promised, Americans got left with smaller paychecks, higher debt, and the feeling that it is impossible to ever get ahead. President Obama pushed for the repeal of some of these tax cuts, but we need to do much more to reverse the damage done by decades of bad policy. Making the rich pay their share isn't only about fairness, it's about funding our government and giving every American a chance to get ahead. Let's take back our economy by demanding policies that actually work for us, and put ourselves back on the path to widespread prosperity.
Republicans in Congress say that raising the federal minimum wage would kill jobs, but the facts show that their claim is just a lame excuse for obstruction. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, states that decided not to wait on Congress actually saw higher job growth after increasing their minimum wages. Ben Wolcott did an analysis for that organization, and said, "While this kind of simple exercise can't establish causality, it does provide evidence against theoretical negative employment effects of minimum-wage increases." In other words, while this study does not prove that raising the minimum wage increases job growth, it does prove that a pay hike doesn't kill jobs. In fact, Washington state saw the largest increase in small business jobs last year, and they have the highest minimum wage in our nation. It's only common sense – when people have more money in their pocket to spend, the buy more in their local economy, and give businesses more cash to hire workers. It's time for Congress to recognize reality, and give our national economy a boost by raising the federal minimum wage.
After the Supreme Court dealt a blow to public unions in Harris v. Quinn, home health workers in Minnesota decided to fight back. Rather than opting out of fair-share dues, as the Court made possible, home care workers in the North Star State filed for the largest union election in that state's history. More than 9,000 of these workers signed cards saying they want to join the local branch of the Service Employees International Union. These dedicated men and women often work long hours to care for seniors and the disabled, and they are paid so little that they often qualify for food stamps. One of the workers fighting for representation said, "I am here today because for too long, the work I and over 26,000 other Minnesotans do for a living [sic] has been made invisible, and when we win our union, we will finally be invisible no more." The recent Supreme Court ruling gave some workers a free ride by allowing them to opt out of fair-share dues, but that won't stop workers from forming new unions. The best way to protect our right to organize is to use it, and make sure that unions have the power and funding to keep protecting us.
Starting this September, every student in the Chicago Public School System will be eligible to receive free meals at school. Instead of spending money on tracking student accounts and figuring out who qualifies, Chicago schools will simply provide breakfast and lunch to every student, regardless of family income. Previously, free and reduced-price lunch programs often left low-income students stigmatized, and left many kids going hungry because they didn't qualify for subsidized meals. By giving every student meals, the Chicago School System has removed that stigma, and they'll save money on administrative costs in the process. In the richest nation on the planet, it's unacceptable that our kids should be going hungry, or that they should have to face social stigma in order to get a hot meal. Chicago has the right idea by making sure every child has at least two meals a day, and every city in America should be doing the same.
And finally... Before House Republicans try to repeal Obamacare again, they may want to check with their constituents. A new poll from the Commonwealth Fund shows that the vast majority of people – including Republicans – are quite happy with the Affordable Care Act. According to that poll, 73 percent of people who bought insurance and 87 percent of people who enrolled in Medicaid said they were satisfied with their new health plan. Even 74 of self-identified Republicans said that they're happy with their new coverage. Political affiliation has little impact on whether or not someone sees the value of being able to afford medical care. Health and illness don't care about party lines. Republicans can continue to demonize the health care bill, but Americans have already given their seal of approval to the new law. These poll numbers show that people appreciate being covered, and this data will put even more pressure on the remaining Republican lawmakers who refuse to expand Medicaid in their states.
And that's the way it is - for the week of July 14, 2014 – I'm Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.