Thursday, May 1, 2014

Crash of Symbols

The Senate failed to pass a minimum wage bill.

With the Republican-led filibuster of a Senate proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 on Wednesday, Democrats moved swiftly to frame the vote as an example of the gulf that exists between the two parties on matters of economic fairness and upward mobility.

The question is not just one of money, they said, but of morality. And in doing so the Democrats returned to the themes that were successful for their party and President Obama in 2012 when they convinced swing voters that Democrats were mindful of the best interests of all Americans — not just those who are powerful and wealthy.

Speaking from the White House shortly after the measure was defeated 54 to 42, with 60 votes needed to advance, Mr. Obama admonished Republicans and called on voters to punish them at the polls in November. “If there’s any good news here, it’s that Republicans in Congress don’t get the last word on this issue, or any issue,” Mr. Obama said. “You do, the American people, the voters.”

The only reason the vote was taken — the nail-biter filibuster was a foregone conclusion — was so the Democrats could campaign on it.  Or at least one could only hope; even if it had passed, there was no way it would get through the House and to the president’s desk.

Now the DNC and the DCCC and the rest of the progressive acronyms (not to mention the ones that flood my in-box asking for money) can run ads against their Republican opponents as being against low-wage workers.  Here’s a news flash: we already knew that; to them, that’s a feature, not a bug.  The GOP already knows the voters will have forgotten about it by tomorrow.

I’m not opposed to the Senate taking a purely symbolic vote for the sake of a campaign issue every now and then.  I just wish it generate some real consequences: either at the ballot box or in the bank accounts of the people who need it.

Speaking of symbolic, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the Senate will vote on a constitutional amendment that would reverse the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on campaign finance laws.

The idea would be to give back states and the federal government the power to regulate campaign contributions that was taken away by those rulings.

It won’t go anywhere — amending the Constitution is notoriously difficult (whew) — but again it’s going to put the opponents on the record of being against something that a lot of the people are for.