Thursday, August 03, 2006

GOP Wage Proposal Seeks To Cut Wages For Many Working People

Nothing better illustrates the wealthy vs. the poor class warfare situation in America than the GOP plan that claims to raise wages from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 by 2009, only a mere 5 years away. Besides containing a huge $268 billion in inheritance tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy of America, the proposal puts off any wage increase to a mere $5.85 to Jan 1, and then to $6.55 in June 2008, and then finally to just $7.25 on June 1, 2009. This hardly keeps up with either inflation in rent or gasoline.

Gasoline prices have risen from $1.58 a gallon in 2003 right before the start of the Bush Iraq War to around $3.00 a gallon now. A recent joke on the David Letterman Late Show about " The top 10 dumb guy ways to lower gas prices" included #8, "Invade Iraq".

Since the last wage increase in 1996 to $5.15 an hour, rent has increased by 30% and gasoline by a huge 142%. Home prices have skyrocketed during this time. But few persons earning these type of wages can afford a home as most are falling way below federal poverty levels. In 1979, a wage earner family of three persons with the $2.90 an hour, earned just above the federal poverty level. Today, because the minimum wage has fallen so far behind the inflation rate, the same family would find themselves $5,900 below the federal poverty level. And since most minimum wage workers are given little in benefits, most of these workers would need to seek out public health programs when they becomes sick. Some help with problems such as needed dental work may be difficult to get.

But one of the worst aspects of this GOP "wage increase" proposal is that it may actually cut the wages of tip earning workers such as waitresses by as much as $3.00 an hour by classifying tips as part of the salary instead of an extra bonus that grateful customers pay to a good worker who offers them great service. Some states allow workers who earn tips to be paid as little as $2.13 an hour.

In the 1980's some commission earning workers were paid as little as $13.00 a week working at funiture stores in Portland, Oregon for example. Unless they would sell anything, their two week take home check was a mere $26.00 total. This is way below even the basic costs to eat or drive to work for the two week period.

What is really needed is an immediate wage increase to a minimum $10.00 an hour wage for workers, and all places of employment to provide some sort of health insurance enrollment program that is either company paid, or very affordable at this new wage. The current GOP proposal to lower wages for tip earning workers and cut inheritance taxes for the rich is hardly enough of a proposal to even claim to be any form of a wage increase proposal. Currently 80% of the public favors a minimum wage increase, and this is another example of an out of control Congress ignoring the public will.

The GOP putting up a phony proposal is nothing new. Months earlier they put a phony "federal deficit cut" proposal that cut social services for the poor by $40 billion over a five year period. Only by a few GOP senators such as Gordon Smith voting to protect the Food Stamp program from cuts in the U.S. Senate, this vital food program that protects the poor children and families of the U.S. was rescued from cuts. The same "federal deficit cut" bill also granted $70 billion in new tax cuts to the mainly wealthy of America. The average person was lucky to see much more than $40 in federal tax cuts, and was more likely than not to see huge local tax increases for school support or other vital services as federal grants would be cut.

Only in the language of the GOP could a net $30 billion dollar federal deficit increase after the $40 billion in social service cuts be called a "federal deficit cut". Such language is more akin to an outright lie than anything.

Class warfare of the wealthy and their politician allies against the interests of the poor and average citizens will only continue until the American voters achieve some sence of class conciousness and begin to elect a government that represents those working class interests.


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