Let’s start with some basic history, (yawn.)
The filibuster dates back to Ancient Rome.
Some guy in a metal skirt named Phil The toga-clad politician who created the filibuster was the young Senator Cato, and his foray into time-wasting began in 60 BCE. Cato’s method of forestalling votes on proposals he disagreed with was to speak continuously until nightfall, which was when business was required to conclude for the day, much like a football player running down the clock. Way to stick it to the man, Cato. The man whom Cato stuck it to was Caesar, and although he often gets credit for the controversial salad that goes by the same name, making use of raw eggs, the Caesar Salad originated in Mexico in 1924.
Democrats have a history of being their own worst enemy.
The first example of self-sabotage that comes to my mind is when Senator Kirsten Gillibrand demanded the immediate resignation of Senator Al Franklin, who complied in January of 2018 before an investigation was held into allegations of sexual misconduct. Gillibrand branded herself with a scarlet A (asshole) when it was determined that Franken had been the victim of a hit job by Roger Stone.
It is my opinion New York Governor Cuomo is experiencing an attack similar to what Franken experienced. Demands that he step down from his position because of allegations that he sexually harassed three women before an investigation takes place are unreasonable. This is not an anti-woman sentiment, this is a wake-up and smell the work of Roger Stone sentiment. TFG, (that former guy,) would like nothing better than to see Cuomo replaced with a sympathetic governor who has the power to pardon him from the state crimes that are about to take him down. Don’t get me started on a “what about” argument. The list of sexual misconduct by Republican politicians is far longer, more insidious, and without real consequence. #MeToo btw.
Back to the topic at hand. Why are Democrats spending their time negotiating with other Democrats on bills that are wildly popular across the country, with both parties? Why aren’t we unified? Why do we subvert our causes?
The idea of a $15 an hour minimum wage may sound extreme when compared to the poverty trap that is the $5.15 minimum wage currently paid by states like Georgia and Wyoming, but when factoring in inflation from the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the first minimum wage of $0.25 an hour, effective October 24, 1938, that $15 an hour rate is as good as $4.60 an hour today, or [removes socks to count fingers and toes,] about $.07 an hour in 1938.
This argument is not about what labor is worth, or the burden placed on employers to pay a living wage, this is about the 1% maintaining or spreading the wealth gap by exploiting people. Politicians who voted against the raise are metaphorically pressing their knees on the necks of struggling Americans. No one can live on $5.15, or $7.25, or even $12 an hour in most cities.
Poverty is a trap more Americans find themselves in with each passing month. It’s a multifaceted problem rooted not only in low wages but also in healthcare costs and student loan debt. Student loans are the only way most people can go to college. A college degree might afford the working-class opportunities for better-paying jobs. Today’s student loan policies ensure the debt, if the minimum amount due monthly is paid, in 20-30 years, the borrower will owe more than the original loan. We need lending regulations.
Do we as Americans value education? Do we believe we deserve healthcare? Isn’t it wrong that someone who works full-time lives in poverty?
Republican politicians, if honest, would answer no. Let them eat cake.
If the minimum wage is a living wage it is an incentive to work. It is an opportunity to succeed. It is the American dream. That is what the Democratic Party claims to fight for. We don’t want handouts we want equal opportunity.
Back to the subject of the filibuster. While debating the latest Covid relief Bill, Wisconsin’s Republican Senator Ron Johnson said:
”The human mind can not really contemplate what a trillion is.”
Then he demanded a reading of the 628 page Bill, out loud, on our time. It took almost 11 hours, and it was a successful stalling tactic.
Johnson has represented Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate for a decade, and he was among those who voted to give the wealthiest 1% a $2 trillion tax cut. Can the human mind really contemplate what two trillion is? There was no graph explaining the value of a dollar then, only laughs and pats on the back when they passed the bill.
The way to end the filibuster is with cloture. Think of it as clotting blood. It ends the hemorrhaging of time and moves the Bill to a vote. The problem with cloture is that it demands 60 senators vote to shut Johnson down. We couldn’t get all 50 Democratic Senators to agree on which way toilet paper should sit on a spool, let alone the 60 required for cloture.
Not one Republican voted for the $15 minimum wage, nor did eight Democrats. These are the Senate Democrats who voted against the effort to advance a federal minimum wage to a living wage of $15 per hour, and the respective minimum wage currently in effect in their states:
- Senator *Joe Manchin, (WV) $8.75
- Senator Angus King, (ME) $11.00
- Senator *Kirsten Sinema, (AZ) $12.00
- Senator Tom Carper, (DE) $9.25
- Senator Chris Coons, (CT) $12.00
- Senator Jon Tester, (MT) $8.75
- Senator Maggie Hassan, (NH) $7.25
- Senator Jeanne Shaheen, (NH) $7.25
*These Senators consistently create party division.
Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is an improvement over Martha McSally, but she is not worth her weight in pastel hair color, at least not to the Democrats.
It is their prerogative to vote their conscience, but my argument is this: We just endured a decade of Mitch McConnell gleefully stonewalling every bill that landed in his desk, not even allowing the Senate to vote.
We also just survived TOG (that other guy,) who successfully threatened and intimidated every Senate Republican to vote in tandem.
We have a 50/50 Senate with a Democratic Vice President who will act as the tie-breaker. Without unity, Joe Biden will fail in his pursuits to bring us out of the hole TFG dug.
New today, the Senate passed an altered version of the Covid relief package that had passed in the House. The Senate package does not include a change to minimum wage, it extends a lower unemployment benefit at $300 until September 6th. Unaltered is the $1,400 checks that will be sent out, however, it will be limited to people with a slightly lower income. The vote passed 50-49, all Republicans voting no and all Senate Democrats voting yes. (Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, was not present for the vote.)
Now the bill will return to the House where it will likely pass.
The subject of raising the minimum wage will be argued again at a later time.