Monday, April 18, 2005

What's Next

I’m still glowing about our small victory, and the battle of Social Security Privatization is still not over, yet I feel like now would be a good time to consider what is next for us. Sue B. made a very good point last Thursday about raising the Minimum Wage. I believe it could be a natural outcome of the solvency issue. Not only has the minimum wage stagnated for roughly 8 years; it was not high enough in 1997 to begin with. It is time to talk about raising it again. We can win with it.

For all the talk of how Florida moved “red,” a minimum wage ballot initiative passed with around 70% support. In political terms, that is a dominating win. There is no reason to think most Texans are adverse to fairer wages.

The Republicans and their corporate wallets will bluster. They’ll complain that it will drive down employment—that we cannot afford this now. They’ll complain about inflation. They cry wolf every time; it seems like it is never the right time to raise the minimum wage. Bill Clinton raised the minimum wage twice, created 23 million new jobs, and generated so much revenue that he actually fixed the damage done from Reagan/Bush 41 with a little left over to shore up Social Security. Bush 43 has never raised the minimum wage, actually managed to lose jobs, created an annual debt that exceeds $400 billion, and still was able to weaken the dollar to its lowest point in several years. The choice will be obvious to most Americans.

While in theory I support removing the S.S. salary cap (currently exempting all wages in excess of $90,000), we will likely have to settle for a small raise, probably not enough to fix the so-called funding gap. As Americans become increasingly untrusting of Republican’s handling of Social Security, they will turn to us for answers. Instead of limiting ourselves inside the parameters of the system’s budget, we can be much more innovative.

While the Right seems generally accepting that they vote on God, guns, and gays, we progressive Democrats are holistic thinkers. We understand that fixing our problems cannot be accomplished in a vacuum. We cannot let ourselves think for a second that a solvent Social Security and the Bush agenda can co-exist for long. It is not right that someone can work 40 hours a week, every week of the year, and still not be able to raise themselves out of poverty.

Our current debate over Social Security is part of a much larger debate over the soul of our great country. Will we be a nation of islands, individuals concerned only with ourselves? Or, are we are brother’s keepers? As a progressive Democrat, I believe our saying, “We all do better when we all do better.”


At 8:31 PM, Blogger Sue said...

After Jim Clark's assurances that Rep. Neugebauer is a Christian, I thought it good to repeat this quote I found on dailykos "Don't tell me you're a Christian; let me figure it out for myself."


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