“I’m Sorry,” Says Ro Khanna, “An Unelected Parliamentarian Does Not Get to Deprive 32 Million Americans the Wage Raise They Deserve.”

Yves here. The Biden Administration is showing its true colors. Not only does it bomb Syria, but it is not hiding that it is pleased that the proposed minimum wage increase to $15 is hitting obstacles, this one in the form of a bizarre ruling by the Senate’s parliamentarian. As many have pointed out, Kamala Harris could ignore this advice, but not surprisingly, she is pretending to be missing in action. It appears the only time she uses her power is to throw people in jail.

Now there are grounds for quibbling about the structure of the increase. $15 an hour is skimpy in pricey cities like New York, yet would represent a hefty increase in places like Alabama. Perhaps the phase-in could be more attenuated in states with low costs of living. But there is no denying that a minimum wage increase is long overdue.

By Jon Queally, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

Leading progressives—including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Reps. Ro Khanna and Pramila Jayapal—reacted with opposition and disbelief Thursday evening after Elizabeth MacDonough, the chief Senate parliamentarian, issued her belief and guidance that inclusion of a federal minimum wage increase in the pending Covid-19 relief package does not qualify for the budget reconciliation process that would allow the bill to be passed by the chamber with a simple majority.

“This is an advisory, not a ruling. VP Harris needs to disregard and rule a $15 minimum wage in order.  We were elected to deliver for the people. It’s time we do our job.”
—Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)

“I strongly disagree with tonight’s decision by the Senate Parliamentarian,” said Sanders in a statement. Citing recent reviews by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) which showed the outsized impact that raising the wage would have on the federal budget, the Vermont lawmaker and current Senate Budget Committee chairman—who has made raising the federal minimum a cornerstone of his presidential campaigns in both 2016 and 2020—said the assessment wildly missed the mark.

“The CBO made it absolutely clear that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour had a substantial budgetary impact and should be allowed under reconciliation,” Sanders said.  “It is hard for me to understand how drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was considered to be consistent with the Byrd Rule, while increasing the minimum wage is not.”

Sanders was far from alone in condemning the absurdity of the decision as well as the procedural system that empowers the parliamentarian with such authority. As Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) put it: “Amazing that American democracy has landed in a place where some unheard of parliamentarian ends up deciding whether or not a law gets passed to give millions a raise. Simple question: are you on the side of structural reform in standing up to this system or for the status quo?”

According to Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, “The ruling only makes it more clear that the Senate must reform its archaic rules, including reforming the filibuster to allow populist and necessary policies like the $15 minimum wage to pass with a majority of the Senate.”

“We must deliver,” she added, “on the promise we made to voters all across this country: that we would give 27 million workers a long-overdue raise and lift one million people out of poverty during this devastating economic crisis.”

Warren Gunnels, one of Sanders’ top aides who has been working for weeks to present the policy and economic case for reconciliation to the parliamentarian’s office, agreed with other outside critics that the issued guidance was deeply flawed.

For his part, Sanders said he and other Democrats who ran on the promise of getting the minimum wage increased passed are not done fighting.

“60 percent of the American people want to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” he said. “The House of Representatives has voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The President of the United States wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I’m confident that we have a majority in the United States Senate including the Vice President that would vote to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Yet because of the archaic and undemocratic rules of the Senate we are unable to move forward to end starvation wages in this country and raise the income of 32 million struggling Americans. That fight continues.”

“The ruling only makes it more clear that the Senate must reform its archaic rules, including reforming the filibuster to allow populist and necessary policies like the $15 minimum wage to pass with a majority of the Senate.”

“We are not going to give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help millions of struggling American workers and their families,” Schumer said in a statement. “The American people deserve it, and we are committed to making it a reality.”

Strikingly, CNN reported Thursday night—citing an unnamed official within the Biden administration—that the White House was likely relieved, not upset, by the ruling. According to the outlet:

White House officials, cognizant of the potential math problem with Senate Democrats if the minimum wage increase were in the final package, had been counting on the provision being stripped, the administration official told CNN.

While there had been discussions about what would occur if it weren’t, President Joe Biden’s top advisers were fairly certain it would come out—something Biden himself alluded to several times publicly.

While experts have repeatedly noted that Vice President Kamala Harris, who operates as President of the Senate and the deciding vote in the 50-50 divided chamber, has the power to override the guidance of the parliamentarian, the White House has made clear publicly their intention at this point is not to do that—a position pilloried by progressives.

Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of Our Revolution, responded to the development by also calling on Vice President Harris to step in to disregard or overrule the guidance.

“Our Revolution strongly condemns this arbitrary finding that the $15 per hour minimum wage increase should not be considered under fast-track rules,” Geevarghese said in a statement. “The fact that the future of a desperately-needed policy, which is supported by the vast majority of Americans, is being dictated by an unelected congressional staffer is an unconscionable affront to our democracy.”

“Harris must fight for $15 like she promised on the campaign trail by overturning the Senate parliamentarian,” he added. “Madam Vice President, there is no next time—fight for $15 NOW.  Workers have been striking for $15 and a Union since 2013—it’s way past time for our leaders in Congress and the White House to stand with workers.”

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  1. km

    If the Biden Administration wanted a $15.00 minimum wage, then they would not let an advisory get in their way. The advisory is but a figleaf, a pretext for the Biden Administration to do what it wanted to do all along. Same with a $2,000 stimulus check. The Biden Administration is not pushing for this because it does not want to.

    This is what you voted for, Sanders, AOC, Khanna. That and an attack on Syria that murdered twenty some people, ostensibly as retaliation rocket attacks in Iraq. This is your “most progressive administration since FDR”.

    Now own it.

    1. lordkoos

      From what I understand, the Syrian militia under attack is there to fight ISIS, which makes it even more idiotic.

  2. XXYY

    If Harris wants to have a political future in US politics, as Biden’s successor or anything else, her way forward is clear.

    Or, she can be remembered as the person who blocked giving 32 million American workers a raise during the worst depression in the last century.

    Or, she can not be remembered at all.

    1. Jen

      She’s counting on Biden not making it through a full term so she can assume the mantel of First Woman President without having to earn votes from the unwashed masses.

    2. Keith

      No, the people won’t remember. They will just blame the nameless “Congress” and go about their lives trying to make ends meet. Come election time, they will be presented the normal red vs blue choice, which they will wildly embrace because their team is the good while the other is the bad guy. If, by chance, a populist gets elected, they will be russiagated.

      1. James Simpson

        Noam Chomsky et al will demand every left-facing American vote for Ms Harris in 2024 while holding their noses because “she can be pushed leftwards after election”. And they will fall for it again.

    3. deplorado

      You are looking at it wrong.
      She will have a political future *precisely because* she was “the person who blocked giving 32 million American workers a raise”.

      This is not cynical, it is just how it works. Sad and tragic, but fact of life.

      She became Vice President (or a Vice “Warden”, in the words of some) without winning a single primary delegate. Think about it, if a politician can pull that off, then she knows how to fail upward. She is doing exactly what she needs to do to have a bright political future.

      1. Synoia

        then she knows how to fail upward

        Funny how she also falls on her back with Willie Brown to to significant personal advantage.

        1. Krombopulous Michael

          Interesting aside, Willie Brown told her not to go for the VP position. He’s a very shrewd guy, I’d like to know what his reasoning was. I’d guess that it had to do with the fact that the post of VP is likening a plastic flower with the real bloom of the presidency. More veep’s tend to fade away to obscurity rather than ascend to the presidency. But in any event, he smelled something there that he wanted to back away from. Of course Sanders would’ve beaten all the other candidates by a wide margin, even if there were a “3rd party” democrat going it alone. Heck, I think Bill Clinton would’ve won over these schmucks (but not Hillary).
          There’s nothing “liberal” or compassionate about Harris. Anyone taking bets on when (not if) the foreclosures, evictions and further layoffs occur? Sadly, I don’t think 2021 is going to be more free or better for most US citizens.

    4. Anthony Noel

      She’ll have a political future no matter what she does.

      She couldn’t even win her home state in the primaries and is vice president.

      And this, this only makes her more popular with the donor class, putting the boot to the neck’s of the working poor. As for the courtier class, she’s a woman and has more melanin in her skin then others, so she’s a lock.

      1. Jeff

        Democratic party voters revealed themselves to be the hypocrites they rightfully say the religious right is. I’d say they should be embarrassed of their support of Biden, but they don’t care because orange man bad.

        The brainwashing goes all the way to the bone.

        1. neo-realist

          Orange man worse: Progressive grass roots opposition in grave danger of being imprisoned by the RICO statues, more severe cuts in social programs, including SS, and the usual massive tax cuts and increases in military spending, more hard right judge appointments, Covid indifference and a slower vaccine rollout than now, and more racial antagonism coming from the white house.

          Biden certainly isn’t great, as a matter of fact barely anything. But people who want the change you seek would have arguably been severely set back by another Trump administration as opposed to being placed in a holding to slow motion pattern.

          Elect more progressives to effect the change—–but the change ain’t happening overnight. It will be a while if at all.

          1. Jeff

            There were 5 candidates on the ballot in California. Progressives need to stop being treated like a piñata and end their support of a party who treats them with outright contempt.

          2. Anthony Noel

            Orange man wasn’t worse: he was just louder and more unseemly to the courtier class, hardly worse.

            Trump’s massive tax cuts, well I don’t see Biden or any democrat talking about reversing those tax cuts, just like Obama didn’t reverse Bush’s, because both sides are happy with them. As a matter of fact the only thing mentioned by the Democrats in regards to tax cuts during the elections was to lift the SALT cap that was affecting their wealthy donor base.

            Increased military spending, the democrats had to ok those spending bills, and hell they didn’t just OK them, they tacked on more money then Trump was asking for.

            Cutting social programs, have a look at Joe’s record and you’ll see 40 years of slashed social programs and the human wreckage left in the wake of his political ascension. As for social security, it’s gone under this administration. Joe’s been trying to cut it for 40 years and the only thing that stopped the last two democratic presidents from doing it was the fact that Gingrich couldn’t wait for Bill to run out his term and though impeaching him would be a great launch to his 2000 presidential run, and Obama couldn’t pull that trigger because, ironically, the tea party showed up and wouldn’t let McConnell and Obama make the Grand Bargain, a case of cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Nobody is around to stop them this time and Biden and McConnell will shred social security.

            We’ve got TPP all of a sudden being floated again bac. A “trade” deal that Biden and Obama both pushed hard for that saw them force the State Department to reclassify Malaysia from a Tier 3 slave state so that it could sign. That’s right Obama and Biden’s administration thought slavery was perfectly fine as long as it got the donor class the “trade” deal it wanted.

            Covid indifference, this is a man who lied to his supporters and told them it was safe to do in person voting during the democratic primaries in order to increase his turnout.

            Hiding his terrible policies and appointments behind brown skin and women and calling anyone who doesn’t support them racist and sexist is racial antagonism as well.

            The idea that things were and would of been worse under Trump is just not true. Biden and his ilk are NOT the lesser of two evils, they are the more effective of two evils.

            At least with Trump there was an opportunity to use people’s visceral dislike of the man to force them into even the mildest form of protest and resistance, even if it was simply through the transitive property of Orange Man did it so it’s BAD.

            Under Biden nothing will actually change from a policy standpoint, but the reactions will. We’re already seeing it happen. Biden opens up the child detention facilities and starts filling them again. Where’s the outrage? Nowhere. Biden starts bombing Syria, and what was the reaction? Literally people tweeting how much nicer it was to have Biden in charge now because it was so quietly done, no boorish tweets, no uncouth or uncomfortable media coverage. Just quiet carnage. Brunch is undisturbed.

  3. tegnost

    From Yves preface…
    ” $15 an hour is skimpy in pricey cities like New York, yet would represent a hefty increase in places like Alabama. Perhaps the phase-in could be more attenuated in states with low costs of living.”
    Current dynamic suggests that people leave low employment low cost areas to go to areas where there is more employment but higher costs. this could drive a working class migration from the cities as people exploit the comparative advantage (that’s right, one does not have to go to the U of Chicago to understand basic transaction dynamics) One could stay in seattle, get 16+/hr, the current rate, but have to pay minimum $1000/mo rent, or go to Birmingham, get $15/hr (eventually, it took years for seattle to make it to 15) and pay much less rent and lower costs across the board.

    1. cocomaan

      That already happens with things like city wage taxes, additional city excise and VAT taxes, etc. Maybe will accelerate it!

    2. crittermom

      As I understood it, the $15 hr wouldn’t happen all at once, but increasing to that over the years (while the cost of living continues to rise?).

      While my (retired) roommate swallowed all the ‘unicorns’ Biden/Harris were promising during their campaign, I continued to warn him that in truth, they were perhaps a half step up from our former feckless leader (whom he hates).,
      The fact he has yet to even receive his first $600, in addition to the promised ‘immediately’ $2,000 $1,400, has him beginning to realize they’re snakes I’d warned him about.

      1. Pat

        Denial is one of the strongest responses in humanity. Fueled by hope and embarrassment in ever changing percentages, it takes a whole lot of slaps to the side of the head to release its hold.

        There will probably be a few steps back in their realization that not only are the excuses baseless, but that they are merely window dressing to disguise the real state of the agenda. And never ever to believe the words only the actions.

        I know I collected the “but…but…but” t-shirt in multiple colors before I escaped denial’s clutches. I wish him well.

        1. Jason

          “Denial” is a paradox. It can destroy a person, but it’s also a psychically necessary survival response in many situations.

          I first heard “denial is not a river in Egypt” during my initial go-round in the 12-step world. It struck me how many people in these venues, who were often clean and sober for years – and good for them for that, as addiction can indeed be a death sentence – it struck me how many of these folks were in denial in so many other areas of their life, and often about the world at large. But that larger denial seemed to be necessary for the immediate life-saving non-denial of their addiction.

          Even the most “enlightened” among us are in denial in some form or other.

          1. Starry Gordon

            The purpose of the brain, and the functions which it performs, is not to discover the truth, but to promote the survival and reproduction of the organism in which it is embedded. A long and difficult Evolution has balanced our desires for fact versus our desires for fantasy. Full apprehension of truth might be too much for many of us. Thus Nietzsche’s remarks about “the dome of ignorance.”

            1. witters

              Well, it might be useful for survival and reproduction if you had a pretty good grip on how things are (and are not) in the environment around you.

              1. Starry Gordon

                Not necessarily. A great deal of the truth about everything is irrelevant, for instance. Other realms of truth are paralyzingly discouraging. You gotta believe! Or, as William Blake wrote,
                “if the sun and moon began to doubt,
                They’d both immediately go out.”

      2. John Zelnicker

        February 26, 2021 at 12:07 pm

        Tell your roommate and others that if they haven’t received the $600 yet, or did not get the full amount they were eligible for last spring, that they can claim those payments on their tax returns for this year and they will be included in their refund.

          1. Jeff in NY

            From IRS.gov

            If you’re eligible for the credit, and either we didn’t issue you any Economic Impact Payments or we issued less than the full amounts, you must file a 2020 tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit even if you are not required to file a tax return for 2020.

            So, you can claim the $600 credit simply by filing a 1040 regardless of whether you would file under “normal” circumstances.

  4. Pavel

    The big litmus test for Sanders will be if he caves and votes for Neera as head of OMB. She is the vilest of the vile… an even more toxic version of HRC. Based on his past performance I suspect he will show his true spinelessness and let her in. We shall see.

    As for the $15, if Kamala on her part caves and doesn’t force it through, that should be a death blow for her future political career. But as she’ll no doubt be POTUS before long (I give Biden a year at most) she’ll have the advantages of incumbency in 2024. The Dems will be split but the Repubs even more so.

    Leave it to the DNC and Obama to foist the two worst and most duplicitous and corrupt of the entire 2020 field of Dem candidates on the nation. The citizens are crying out for a third party but the Uniparty of the oligarchs and technocrats won’t allow it. The Dems were happy for the mail-in ballots to be accepted without signature checks but when the Greens wanted to get on the ballot every goddamn signature was checked, you betcha! Same with Newsom’s recall petitions. Bloody hell their hypocrisy is sociopathological — they rub it in our faces.

    As for Syria… jesus wept. Endless money for endless war, but can’t get $2000 checks to desperate Americans.

    1. urblintz

      I disagree about Bernie. If he knows her nomination fails regardless of his vote, then voting for her losing bid would be a good way of both being a gentleman and giving her the finger.

      Otherwise I am fully d’accord with the rest of your comment!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Presumably someone in his orbit knows Mother’s (HRC) devotees will blame Sanders, so if Tanden goes down, Mother’s devotees are going to attack Sanders. They were going to attack him anyway if she was approved because their animus is driven by their love of Mother. How dare Sanders not praise Mother?

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        With all the diversity-card and race-card pressure being used to blackmail and extort senators into confirming Tanden, Sanders may well be the break-or-make vote for her confirmation.

        If Sanders is the deciding vote, how will he decide?

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    But, lo, she is the first woman to serve as parliamentarian of the Senate. We have been waiting since 1789 for such progress.

    Can we talk about class issues now?

  6. juno mas

    From the Preface: “As many have pointed out, Kamala Harris could ignore this advice, but not surprisingly, she is pretending to be missing in action. It appears the only time she uses her power is to throw people in jail. “

    As I’ve said many times, Kamala Harris is not Barbara Jordan. Not only does Harris wrongly throw people into jail, she defends the police officers who lie about their contrived reason for arrest, as well.

    I’m already sick of seeing her image in the background of every Biden photo-op. If any of you listened to Meghra Chakrabarty (sp?) “On POint” hour long interview with her sociologist guest yesterday, she expects the next authoritarian in US politics to be a woman. Kamala is ready to step in?

    1. Phillip Cross

      I am happy to say I haven’t watched a single Biden photo op. I suggest you just stop caring about them them too, especially if the sight of Kamala is making you sick.

      It’s so easy to ignore, and I think you’ll find that your attention (out lack of it) doesn’t make the blindest bit of difference to the functioning of the nation. Leave them to it, and do something less boring instead.

  7. ambrit

    I’m waiting for the “stimulus cheques” to be walked back next.
    Watch the eternal shrinking cheque! Wonder at the reality shaping powers of the DNC! Send Nancy more money! (Got another fund raising letter from DCCC this week.)
    What’s the background on the Parliamentarian? That should tell us something.
    Red flags warning: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_MacDonough
    (Read her career arc.)
    In the bulk of the wiki, it ststes that the actual, legal ruling on a question on the rules is made, not by the parliamentarian, but by the President of the Senate, in effect, the vice President, Harris. There is is in black and byte. Harris is not required to follow the Parliamentarian’s advice.
    The entire process is theatre.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Even then its simply Senate “rules”. No majority group of Senators can have their power restricted by a previous groups of Senators. Their authority comes from the US Constitution. If they adhere to the ramblings of anyone, its because the Senators choose to. All of the arcane laws and stuff is bs except for occasionally sneaking in legislation that might be unpopular with the populace or the Senators who are often too lazy to know the rules.

  8. Kurtismayfield

    If I could post a link to Lucy pulling away the football, I would.

    After this election cycle, if anyone believes a word out of the Dem’s mouth they are just not Pat ng attention. That Atlantic article was wrong. This could be the end of the Democrats if they keep this up.

    1. timbers

      The Blues consider they have already achieved Mission Accomplished. They impeached Trump. All is well now. Everything is Good and Right in America again. Time to go to sleep. Or brunch which ever. Everything done now.

  9. David in Santa Cruz

    I had a colleague, a Black woman born and raised in San Francisco and a superb lawyer, who for several years worked closely with Kamala Harris. This woman always forcefully insisted that Harris is a perfidious snake.

    The betrayals are only beginning. We could just shrug, but these betrayals drive-away voters in droves — as has been demonstrated over and over. For Democrats, being in power has nothing to do with governing. It is nothing but a comfortable sinecure. They and their funders seem to prefer being out of power, so that they can gin-up donations while never delivering material benefits to anyone but the one-percent.

    I must concede that a national minimum wage that doesn’t account for regional variations in the actual cost of living isn’t the greatest idea — it is just as likely to create a ceiling in high-cost regions as it is to create a floor in others. However, a promise is a promise and the last two elections were too close to break one.

    1. jhallc

      The whole regional issue of $15 being too much, not enough, is a red herring. The government has used a set national income level for poverty assistance levels forever. The $15/hour barely crosses the Supplemental Natural Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit threshold of $28,236/year gross income level. Getting folks over that threshold will reduce the burden on the budget for that and likely other similar programs.

      1. MK

        There is a daisy chain issue when I make $18 per hour now, over twice the minimum wage. Now that the order taker at McDonalds is making $15 per hour, you better believe I want my wage to increase along side so I am still making over twice the minimum wage. So, it’s not just about raising the floor, it’s about the millions of us making more, not much more, than $15 per hour being frozen out. Not gonna go over well.

        1. Starry Gordon

          Relax. Everyone up the political-economic food chain will get more dollars worth less, since the amount of value created will not change much if at all. Should any of the more powerful be affected by the rising minimum wage, they will know how to fix the problem.

        2. jhallc

          No doubt there is a knock on effect to raising the floor. I’d be curious to know how Costco and Walmart plan to handle the pay increases they are putting in place. I would think that there must be similar pay differential issues in those jobs. The biggest impact will likely be in the food service sector where starting pay for a line worker is generally just above minimum wage ($8-$9.00). There will have to be a way to address that in those sectors.

        3. lordkoos

          Wow. I think the “daisy chain” is in your mind. So when you see some other poor worker is doing better, it’s not fair unless you get more too? Why stop there, let’s protest until everyone is making the same as Jeff Bezos.

          At any rate IMO the entire thing is a farce, they are talking about phasing in $15 an hour over a period of years… by that time $15 will be like $10 is now, when the wage should actually be $20+ right now, just to keep up with inflation.

          1. Fraibert

            I think the point is salary scales are in part relative. For example, if a floor restocker in Target receives a wage boost to $15, it’s likely the supervisor of that restocker expects to see his or her wages receive a proportional increase as well, etc.

            1. Jason

              George Costanza went to bat for his secretary, and was pleasantly surprised when Mr Steinbrenner obliged. Of course, George was none too happy when he found out that the secretary’s salary was raised to a level higher than his own. And Mr Steinbrenner wasn’t too impressed with George’s subsequent appeals on behalf of himself.

              Sorry. I needed a break from the routine. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      And just consider that she is likely to be replacing Joe Biden within the coming year, with Pete
      Buttigieg, carefully set up in a cabinet post he’s uniquely unqualified for but which gives him access to whatever level of Oval Office business that can be made available, as her VP. Makes you feel all warm and cozy, eh?

      Granted, there may be another reason why the candidate who utterly crashed and burned in the primaries, despite the clear intent of the party and the media to anoint her going out of the gate, was selected as Biden’s running mate over Elizabeth Warren, who at least got some votes, but damned if I can figure out what that might be.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        To be the Female Obama President who immunises and impunifies the Wall Street CrimeLords when they crash the economy again with their schemes. She showed her loyalty to this class of people by immunising and impunifying Steve Mnuchin, and Wall Street wants her in power to do the same for them.

        That’s what the intent was.

  10. Lou Anton

    Stephanie Kelton found the tweet. There’s always a tweet.

    “It’s abysmal that the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. You can’t live off that. It’s time for a $15 minimum wage. #FightFor15” (from @KamalaHarris on 11/29/16)

    It was time for $15/hour back in November 2016. Now I suppose it is no longer time. Why is that?

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      “ It was time for $15/hour back in November 2016. Now I suppose it is no longer time. Why is that?”

      Because the Dems are in charge now. When she tweeted that, the Dems had just wiped out and Kamala had her eyes on 2020.

  11. lobelia

    It’s getting to be way too long a list of those I would not mourn for at all if they died tomorrow, under untormenting circumstances; though, I would feel empathy if they died under tormenting unjust circumstances much like those they impose on millions, sometimes billions. These people appear to have no such ability to imagine torment and misery, many times death, unless its inflicted on them. It’s frankly terrifying that they have so much power to literally destroy lives.

    I wish they’d all take a one way trip to Mars. That barren, radioactive atmosphere with the -67F° winter temperature suits them perfectly, they’d probably thrive. Kamala’s unbearable, secretly spiteful and warmthless, power striver, toothpaste grin, amidst all the misery unnecessarily inflicted, would likely remain perfectly intact as she set about to do in her fellow inhabitants.

    1. Jason

      You forgot to say, “gotta run.”

      I appreciate your posts which channel my own (appropriate) primal rage!

  12. lobelia

    Thank you Jason, I appreciate your posts too. A long distance hug to you, and hopes that you and yours are doing okay.

    gotta run (smiles)

  13. Jeff W

    “Harris must fight for $15…”

    Does merely exercising one’s ability to override or ignore the ruling of the the Senate parliamentarian even count as “fighting”? It seems like there’s some obscuring of the power relations going on here.

    (And, of course, all that “fighting” rhetoric belies a sort of means-end displacement, where fighting, not actually attaining what you’re fighting for, becomes the end, as lambert has often pointed out.)

    1. Krombopulous Michael

      Politics as kabuki (or worldwide wrestling).
      All fun aside, inflation will rear its head if these hikes go thru across the boards. I reckon this will push a lot of work to under the table (which is probably why they want to get rid of cash as much as possible). Arguing that it’ll push up other wages either won’t happen, or if it did, prices will spike. That $4 burger will now be closer to $8 or $10. That $30,000 car will be more like $50-60k. I wish I could get my salary up to $500k and pay off all my existing debts. Of course it meant that it’d be far less likely I could acquire new assets (or even essentials) in the following year. At that point, there would be no entertaining buying a burger since the price would have risen even further, probably nearly no chance if that was a small, independent business. And my retirement would be even more of a dead concept than it is now.

  14. Sound of the Suburbs

    How does this economy thing work anyway?
    We got some stuff from Ricardo, like the law of comparative advantage.
    What’s gone missing?

    Ricardo was part of the new capitalist class, and the old landowning class were a huge problem with their rents that had to be paid both directly and through wages.
    “The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community” Ricardo 1815 / Classical Economist
    What does our man on free trade, Ricardo, mean?

    Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
    Employees get their money from wages and the employers pay the cost of living through wages, reducing profit.
    Employees get less disposable income after the landlords rent has gone.
    Employers have to cover the landlord’s rents in wages reducing profit.
    Ricardo is just talking about housing costs, employees all rented in those days.
    Low housing costs work best for employers and employees.

    Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
    “Who put that other term in the brackets with taxes?” neoliberal policymakers
    They thought people would get better off by lowering taxes.
    The cost of living rose, so people didn’t actually get better off.
    The French were so upset about their lack of disposable income they put on yellow vests and took to the streets.

    Someone from the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) has just seen the equation.
    Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
    Two seconds later …..
    They realise the UK’s high housing costs push up wages, and are actually paid by the UK’s employers reducing profit.
    UK’s high housing costs make UK labour very expensive compared to elsewhere in the world, and it makes it very expensive to do anything in the UK.
    Employees get their money from wages.
    Employers pay the UK’s high housing costs in wages reducing profit.

    You can pay wages elsewhere that people couldn’t live on in the West.
    To maximise profit you will need to off-shore.

    Let’s look at the equation again.
    Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
    Set disposable income to zero for the minimum wage.
    Minimum wage = taxes + the cost of living
    High housing costs lead to a higher minimum wage.

    Stop driving up the minimum wage with rising housing costs.

    1. Sound of the Suburbs

      1.4 billion Chinese people using neoclassical economics were pitted against the equation.
      Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
      They never stood a chance.

      Davos 2019 – The Chinese have now realised high housing costs eat into consumer spending and they wanted to increase internal consumption.
      They let real estate rip and have now realised why that wasn’t a good idea.

      The equation makes it so easy.
      Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
      The cost of living term goes up with increased housing costs.
      The disposable income term goes down.
      They didn’t have the equation, they used neoclassical economics.
      The Chinese had to learn the hard way and it took years, but they got there in the end.

      They have let the cost of living rise and they want to increase internal consumption.
      Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
      It’s a double whammy on wages.
      China isn’t as competitive as it used to be.
      China has become more expensive and developed Eastern economies are off-shoring to places like Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

      One economics, one ideology.
      Global groupthink.

      Everyone makes the same mistakes.
      The Chinese are learning from those mistakes though, which is a first.

  15. JTMcPhee

    Is it telling that Khanna’s headline starts with an APOLOGY? “I’m sorry…” Yeah, I know it is a rhetorical device, but the Democrat disease runs through all of it. Apologizing when a “fighter for the people” might, you know, put a little Frederick Douglass or Malcolm X or even MLK in his oration?

  16. DanP66

    First: A NATIONAL $15 min wage is a really dumb idea. NYC is not west Texas. Boston is no upstate Maine.

    Second: This will kill small businesses when they can least afford this kind of thing.

    Third: It will bring in a huge wave of automation. Just watched the most amazing robot I have ever seen picking oranges. Just amazing. Fast food? That is already in the works.

    Fourth: The CBO estimates for lost jobs is in the millions if this goes through. Anyone really think that is a good idea now?

    Fifth: for things like home health aides it will simply push the prices for those services out of the financial range of those who need them and you can be damn sure the insurance companies or Medicare are going to try to pass on the costs.

    One of those things that SOUNDS great and SOUNDS noble. Sounds wonderful when talking about Amazon or Walmart. Not so great when you consider that these are the companies MOST able to automate or when you think about the local pizza joint outside of Nashville.

    Hence the reason that Biden wants this to die.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Interesting. I’m sure President Roosevelt will listen the GOP complaints from 1938. Do you even bother coming up with new arguments?

      1. DanP66

        I’m saying that you need to not attack this problem with an axe but use a scalpal.

        Do you ever come up with alternative strategies?

        Have you looked at regionalizing this? Northeast, Southeast, West Coast…?

        How about different ones for urban centers and rural areas?

        This is the problem with the left. They think slogans are effective policy the way they got the heads handed to them over the consequences of “Defund the Police”.

        Have you thought for one MINUTE how you might take an alternative approach to increasing wages at the lower end? (HINT…one way might be to bring in fewer uneducated immigrants to compete for those jobs. Its the whole supply and demand thing ya know)

        How about indexing it to employer size past earnings?

        How about indexing it to some version of earnings to revenue for corporations over X size.

        The point is, ya better consider the potential for job losses through business failures and automation.

        Hell, have you considered a tax on automation that could be distributed instead?

        1. tegnost

          you’re ignoring job gains from people getting paid more. The marginal utility of giving a poor person one dollar is exponentially larger than giving one to bezos, so it’s really a better use of the money. Automation to the extent it’s capable is coming no matter what the min wage is

        2. Starry Gordon

          A long time ago I studied the minimum wage level in the US as a signal, and tried to find a reflection of that signal in such data as prices and employment levels. At the time, there didn’t seem to be anything discernable. No doubt it has some effect, but it’s lost in the noise generated by other influences. If so, the struggles around minimum wage are largely symbolic. But then, so is most of Bezos’s money.

          1. cnchal

            >. . . If so, the struggles around minimum wage are largely symbolic. But then, so is most of Bezos’s money.

            I think the real struggle will be to get rid of the brutal working conditions in Amazon warehouses. It forces all others to match. Fifteen bucks an hour is a sideshow.

            Were something like that to happen, and my instincts tell me if the pace of work for the person in that chain of production were cut in half, it would still not be a long term survivable jawb, what might that do to the wage expenses of Amazon?

            1. Starry Gordon

              Pending our transition out of liberal capitalism to something else, the solution to the problems of the workers at Amazon and elsewhere would be unionization.

              1. Patrick

                Amazon and blue collar workers elsewhere would greatly benefit from having a union as powerful as the Police Benevolent Association.

        3. a different chris

          >This is the problem with the left.

          And this is the problem with “know-it-alls”. But maybe you don’t actually know everything? Consider this chart:


          Hey the adjusted minimum wage peaked in 1968, equivalent to $11.55 in today’s money, not a great year for political comfort but a great year for 2 cars, one job and a house in the ‘burbs.

          1) No they are not, NYC already pays a lot more
          2) It adds (eventually) pennies to the cost of a burger. And it doesn’t all kick in the day after tomorrow, why do you ignore that?
          3) Automation is gonna automate. Not that well, actually. You may be amazed but hey I’m amazed when the dime store magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat. Doesn’t mean we all can have rabbits for dinner for free. Note: food delivery automation is like 70 years old now, google “Automat”. Still got my hamburger today thru a window from a lovely young lady.
          4) I think looking at CBO estimates for anything is as far from a good idea as you can get. This whole site is dedicated to punching holes in the theories of mainstream economics, and you don’t get any more mainstream than them.
          5) Again, phased in. Not even relevant, though, as again, you do know Google is your friend? See below, they are at $21/hr so raising the salary of somebody at $12/hr to $15/hr makes them more able, not less to afford this help.


          1. JBird4049

            Until the 1970s, wages generally rose in tandem with inflation and productivity. Using that measure $20 per hour would be right. Just inflation is over $12. there is nowhere in the country were a person can rent an apartment and eat on the current minimum wage.

            If the current economy depends on, not a living, but a survivable wage, and $15 per hour, even in the fringes of the San Francisco Bay Area or an hour’s drive at freeway speeds, is not that; we have a problem with how our economy is set up.

            All the fuss about the minimum wage being too high is mainly cow poo. The only reason why small restaurant owners might have a problem raising their wages is because the bottom have of the population wages have not kept up with the cost of living. That means that the menu prices might not be to go up much and the workers can’t work there. One goes out of business and the employees can’t afford to work there anyway unless they are homeless.

            Just how is this a functioning economy instead of a suicide pact?

            Set the minimum wage at $20, index it inflation and productivity, but raise it from the current rate at $3 per year until the new minimum is reached. This gives small business five years to adjust. This prevents some problems like any restaurant survivors of COVID19 going down and gives workers real improvements now and in the future instead of increases that still will not match the cost of survival.

    2. lordkoos

      Less than 2% of American workers earn minimum wage, if you can believe the stats. It didn’t seem to have any negative effects on small businesses in Seattle, a pricey town that has had the $15 wage for awhile now.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      We ran a post by Jamie Galbraith who explained that

      1. The CBO is not in the business of estimating employment effects and their effort to do so was clearly political

      2. The CBO’s approach was pathetically bad

      And we must add:

      3. If you believe the CBO, the parliamentarian was clearly wrong. If there was an employment impact, there would have to be a budgetary impact

    4. James Simpson

      Wow. How much does DanP66 hate the workers of America? More than Kamala Harris does? Well, that’s a very high bar to clear but you might have done it.

      Any business that can’t afford to pay all its workers a good wage is not a business but a means to exploit people desperate in capitalist America to work. As many others have pointed out, the value of wages in the USA has been stagnating for decades, so there’s not the slightest excuse.

  17. a different chris

    Whoa everybody, this news is like 10 minutes old. Conclusions are (except for the one above about “Kamala is the worst sort of snake” one, that’s true but if St Patrick showed up and drove all the snakes out of Congress it would be pretty darn empty) way way WAY premature.

    You will never get a representative at the top level that you really like. Between the compromises necessary and the general ambitious-to-and-beyond-a-fault to get to the highest levels in this society it’s comical to think so.

    Kamala got where she is by figuring out when and what she had to do (eww, please don’t picture anything in particular). I don’t expect her to surprise us, either, but man give this stuff a couple of days to sort out at least.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is politics, so its just like running through first base. The runner should always say safe and make the safe motion and the first baseman should always act like its an out, just in case the umpire missed it. Don’t let them make a mistake.

      Biden as leader of Team Blue needs to get rid of a staffer now or not waste our time and resign. This isn’t new, and the only reason this staffer is in the news is the White House wants it in the news. The particular staffer never makes news until right after people started catching onto the filibuster fraud. How convenient.

      Obama had time and look what happened.

  18. Edward

    This sounds like the campaign finance reform saga; a lot of talk, more talk, talk…

    Will we end up with Trump in 2024 at this rate, or something worse?

    1. Dirk77

      Aristotle supposedly (I have his main writings but can’t find it) said that the cycle was democracy -> oligarchy -> tyranny. If things continue to go the way they are, I would bet people will more and more imagine a Putin-like tyrant as preferable to what we have now. Someone supposedly to put the oligarchs in their place.

      To help it not come to that, everyone should face facts and drop the charade that Biden, etc. represent you at all. They don’t. Wringing you’re hands about the latest “betrayal” is laughable. In year 2021 any public figure who accepts anything but small donations does not represent you.

      1. JBird4049

        IIRC, and I am going on memory, yes, but his cycle was a bit more detailed

        Best case is Democracy->Aristocracy->King

        Worst case is Mob rule->Oligarchy->Tyrant/strongman

        The top version is the better one that usually devolves into the bottom version and causes the shift to the better top version. And then around again. Corruption, greed, and stupidity causes the decay. Since the single most important thing in a functioning society that one can live in is order and some kind of justice, the lack of it is what triggers the shift to a new method.

        People care most if they have a job, there is food in the market, the streets are clean and safe, that there is little crime and there is just punishment and as bonus their kids can go to the park and they can worship as they please; with all that they are not going to be that concerned with how the decisions are being made. Most just aren’t. Or at least not to fight the police and military.

        He preferred rule by nobility or group of nobles as democracy or rule by the people was not very safe or effective. However, rule by a single people without any checks or inputs by others was also dangerous. Rule by a class of aristocrats gave the input and checks of a democracy without a the dangers of it.

        However, he thought the ultimately having those conditions listed above was the most important thing of all and a good government whatever it was saw to it. If not and it became corrupt and incompetent, then the shift. And a government almost inevitably devolved and then was shifted.

        We are now at the oligarchic stage of government. Joy, here comes either the single ruler of king or President-for-Life. Governing for the benefit of all or ruling for the sake of power. Whether he or she will rule as a king or a tyrant is the question. Unfortunately, the Athenian Solons are rare and the Chinese Maos are much more common.

        And by your definition, we have virtually no representation in Congress. So, it is the oligarchic stage. Oh my, what a surprise.

        We can always hope that we can go backwards into a functioning democracy and avoid that unpleasant President-for-Life or Strongman stage, but I doubt it. But who knows?

  19. Bob Hertz

    The parliamentarian is legally correct.

    The reconciliation rule is intended to affect the spending that Congress does.

    When a restaurant raises wages, (as they should), this is not Congress spending. Heck, every economic act in America has some effect on the federal budget.

    Actually I would like to see the government force all employers to have unions. That is essentially how Germany achieves high minimum wages.

    1. Dirk77

      Interesting idea. At least force all gov contractors to have unions, if only as a transition to something better.

  20. William Neil

    Here was my comment this morning in the NY Times on this “stall.”

    “I guess one could call this getting back to normal for centrist Democrats. After all, we don’t really seem to want, as a party or a nation to have one minimum standard of human dignity: we let the private economic sector determine that we would have different standards, at least since the age of Reagan, and before the New Deal. Sure, some costs of living are regional, cheaper or more expensive. But the costs of automobiles, auto and health insurance, are really national costs, not locally determined ones. And the best schools are everywhere “pricey.” Turnout among the bottom 60% of Democratic voters in 2022? Don’t bet on it. Better bet is on austerity and fears of inflation, just in time to head off a silly little notion about dignity and greater not perfect economic equality upon which it rests. After all, America is a spiritual country, not a materialistic one, as the Rand Study from Sept. of 2020 showed: the poor distributed their alms upward to the 1% (I prefer top 10-20%) already richest to the tune of “the greatest transfer of wealth in human history, $50 trillion dollars.” Thank you Mark Blyth for calling it to our attention, because the presidential campaign and the Democratic Party surely did not. Oh well, as one novelist of the 1960’s titled one of his major works: “Sometimes a Great Notion.” See you at the food pantry.”

  21. Eureka Springs

    I have no rent, mortgage paid, no health insurance, no auto payments, no dependents, no cable TV, or other debt/interest of any kind. I buy most things second hand. I live in rural Arkansas. I grow, hunt, fish a fair portion of my food. I could just get by with an egg in ramen noodles and Trader Joes wine on special occasions if absolutely nothing went wrong, if tires and clothing never wore out on 15 (600 weekly gross). Only if fifteen was not taxed at all.

    1. Tom Pfotzer

      Way to go, Eureka Springs.

      All you need now – if I read your story accurately – is a way to earn a little “foreign exchange” – a so-called “cash crop” – so you can buy the things you can’t provide for yourself.

      There are a few issues that prevent people from embracing / executing the plan you’ve advocated:

      a. Your apparent status declines. You’ve got no symbols, e.g. car, house, job which confer status. That means you have to supply your self-esteem from within. This is tough for a species that is “social”.

      b. You have to develop a lot of skills. Providing for yourself isn’t anywhere near as easy as it sounds, until you climb the investment/learning curve. It’s a grind for a while.

      c. If you’re intellectually developed enough to enjoy NC, you will struggle to find much in common in many – maybe most rural cultures. Stated another way, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb, and that may attract unwanted attention

      Disclaimers aside, it takes guts and wisdom and talent to do what you’re doing. I sure do wish you well.

    2. James Simpson

      I’m sure you have many friends. What a joy your life sounds like. Feasting every day! So how’s that to be applied to people living in towns and cities with no land of their own?

      1. tegnost

        I could just get by with an egg in ramen noodles and Trader Joes wine on special occasions if absolutely nothing went wrong, if tires and clothing never wore out on 15 (600 weekly gross). Only if fifteen was not taxed at all.

        I think that is exactly what ES is saying, $15 is not enough even for someone with embedded benefits, it’s nowhere near enough for someone who doesn’t have that.

  22. sheila

    Sadly, I believe that Jen, Keith, deplorado, and Anthony Noel have got it right: Harris…boot on necks… will be cheered by donor class and guaranteed a bright future.

    Even how this is cast by progressives, that an unknown parlementarian is throwing a wrench in the works w/ some arcane rule, is a BS distraction. Anybody can say and do anything, like a dog running onto a football field. Do you suddenly make the game about the dog?

    No you just cut through the garbage and remove / ignore the dog / parlementarian because you have the rules on your side. VP can break the tie, in this case.

    But we have to endure Hypocrit-Dems (progressives included) going on and on about the rotten parlementarian instead of corrupt VP.

  23. Russ

    Schumer and the democrats need to ask themselves only one question: What would Mitch do if confronted with this technicality?

  24. km

    To paraphrase Caity Johnstone, if the government wants people to be less cynical, maybe they should stop lying to us so much.

  25. Drewski

    Why do folks believe that raising the wage floor won’t increase wages elsewhere in the economy for those with scarcer skills?

    1. tegnost

      OMG you mean the people who’ve been scrambling to be trillionaires will still be trying to do that after the min wage increase? Damn! What if the robots don’t deliver! As to people farther down the scale, if you’re making 150-200 k a year you are a major funder of the march toward trillionaire so raises are good for everybody in a dynamic where one side is going to infinity, and the other side is zero. For those making less than 100k you’re on the very edge in seattle without a partner,so basically anyone under that needs a raise too, so yeah I can see how the rabble marching towards trillionaire could see this as a drag or deceleration of some kind.Drat it all.

  26. Ep3

    Yves, honestly i would rather the focus be on removing the “tipped employees exemption”. Where if I am a waiter at a restaurant i don’t get paid minimum wage; i get less than then my tips have to make up the difference. This would be a huge wage increase to struggling poor folks. Then all that tip money would be above and beyond. You wouldn’t have employers overstating tips so they avoid responsibility of paying a livable wage. Then you would have what are difficult blue collar jobs paying a middle class wage.

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    So when all is said and done, it looks like an unelected parliamentarian DOES get to deprive 32 million Americans the wage raise they deserve.

    With a little help from her friends.

    And one very keyest of allest friend in the very keyest of allest place in particular.

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