Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Progressives Should Relax about the $15 Minimum Wage and Concentrate on What's Most Important

There's been a lot of rending of progressive garments about the looming excision of the $15 minimum wage from the relief package, both due to the Senate Parliamentarian's ruling and the general realities of a Senate where Joe Manchin's and Kyrsten Sinema's votes cannot be dispensed with. But really, they should relax. This development was inevitable anyway. It's far, far more important to move the relief bill fast and get it into the economic bloodstream of the country, showing that Democrats can and will deliver big for the American people. From the Times:
"The demise of President Biden’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage as part of his economic stimulus plan has prompted anger among progressives on Capitol Hill and around the country, threatening to overshadow a moment of triumph for Democrats this week as they push through a nearly $2 trillion pandemic aid package.
The simmering tension is unlikely to derail the plan, which is packed with longtime Democratic priorities including enhanced federal jobless aid, direct payments to Americans, and hundreds of billions of dollars for states, cities and tribal governments suffering fiscal shortfalls. But the liberal angst over the measure, coming little more than a month after Mr. Biden took office, foreshadows larger fights to come over the rest of his agenda, and a difficult road ahead for Democrats in navigating the divide.
It also risks muddling what the White House and party leaders had hoped would be a clear and politically potent message on the stimulus measure, which Democrats are working feverishly to portray as a momentous and broadly popular accomplishment that Republicans should be scorned for opposing.
Instead, some of the loudest progressive voices in recent days have been focused on demanding that Mr. Biden and leading Democrats push harder to rescue the minimum wage increase proposal from a procedural thicket in the Senate by changing the chamber’s rules. Their pleas ignore the fact that the proposal does not have enough support even among Democrats to pass."
That's right; the filibuster will not be broken and/or Senate rules changed for the $15 minimum wage. Nor would there be any point in doing so.
Moreover, the next big thing after the relief bill will likely be another spending bill--the recovery/infrastructure bill--to be passed through reconciliation as well. And no, it will not include the $15 minimum wage either. But that's OK. That second bill could be a real doozy in terms of moving the economy and the country in a way that progressive Democrats should be ecstatic about. Greg Sargent:
"The New York Times reports that some Democrats are already thinking about how to move a far-reaching infrastructure repair agenda, if they can get the economic relief bill through the Senate and into law.
This coming debate may be uniquely positioned to expose Trumpism’s bankruptcy as it sinks into QAnon-ification, cultishness and mythologizing about the Lost Cause of the stolen election.
First, such rebuilding is exactly what Trumpism was supposed to do. Just after Trump’s 2016 victory, his adviser Stephen K. Bannon famously vowed a “trillion-dollar infrastructure plan” that would realign the working class behind populist nationalism, launching an “entirely new political movement.”
That never happened, largely because Trump mostly adopted conventional GOP plutocratic economics. Yet as the Times piece reports, proponents of a new infrastructure effort are now envisioning large government investments as a way to “help the economy run more efficiently, leading to stronger growth and faster wage gains for workers.”
Delivering successfully here would establish that it is progressive economics — not Trumpist nationalism — that offers the truly concrete approach to rebuilding the country in a way that lifts the fortunes of workers and promotes the common good."
So don't sweat it, $15 minimum wage fans. We'll get to it eventually--or as close as possible under current political constraints. But there's a lot of other stuff going on which is actually more important.

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