Sunday, March 06, 2005

It Ain't Just Social Security

You've got to love those Republicans. Unlike the Democrats, they know how to go after more than one goal at a time. Any other political party would focus its attention on one major goal at a time, like dismantling Social Security by replacing it with private accounts that would kill the program and add $2 trillion to our national debt. Now that's one hell of a goal that any party bent on the destruction of the middle class and the poor could be proud of.

But these Republicans are really bold. In addition to Social Security, they are also taking on the middle class and the poor by going after bankruptcy protections and the 40-hour work week all at the same time! Now that's ambitious class warfare, no doubt about it.

On the bankruptcy front, everyone knows that bankruptcy laws are being abused, most often by those poor people who just run up debts on their credit cards and then file for bankruptcy to get out of paying what they owe. Everyone knows this. And everyone is wrong.

One of the main causes of bankruptcy is catastrophic medical bills. Yet the GOP has shot down exemptions for protection from this. They've also shot down Democratic amendments to the bill protecting senior's homes, requiring credit card companies to post the total interest charges and time to pay off debts at the minimum payments, and amendments protecting veterans or National Guard members from bankruptcy caused by their deployments overseas.

Never mind that the credit card industry is lobbying hard for this bill to pass. Never mind that the loop holes for asset protection trusts the rich use to protect assets are still there, as is the homestead exemption that protects millionaire's estates, and never mind that the bill changes nothing regarding business bankruptcy.

This bill is just to make sure all those deadbeat individuals pay up or lose their house. Even if they are a senior who had a stroke or a National Gaurd member who saw his pay cut in half when deployed to Iraq for twice as long as he was suppose to be there. Doesn't matter. Pay up. Pay your 36% interest on that late charge. Pay that 21% interest on your charge card. You knew what you were getting into when you read all that 4-point fine print on the back of that credit card offer they mailed you. Once a week. For a year.

For a complete run down of why the bill is a farce, Keven Drum has good explanation.

Then we find this jem from Rick Santorum's desk. You see, the GOP is fixing to raise the minimum wage. They are blocking any amendment to actually raise it to anything that adjusts it to inflation. Sen. Kennedy has proposed $7.25/hour, Santorum is offerin $6.25/hour. But again, the GOP is not satisfied with just one attack here. Why not raise the minimum wage in an insignificant way for a PR victory, while getting rid of New Deal provisions in the amendments and committees at the same time! Of course, this is the GOP strategy.

First, Santorum's amendment eliminates the 40-hour work week. That's right. The 40-hour standard that ended indentured labor. The 40-hour standard that most European countries have even reduced further to 35 hours. But leave it to the good old GOP, their pro-business bent has driven this one. Why not just combine two weeks into one, and call it an 80-hour work period. That way, when you get busy, you can work your employees 50 hours one week, then 30 hours the next week, and never pay a dime in overtime pay! Brilliant. Got child care issues with that? Too bad. Have a second job to supplement your high paying minimum wage job? Too bad. Your employer owns your time as the work week is now much more flexible. How great for them.

Then there's employees who make tips. We all know they make plenty off their tips, as we've all been in a busy restaurant and seen them lollygagging around raking in the money from their hard working customers. So since they are raking in the tips, why should their employers have to pay them a minimum wage at all? You've got to love this GOP logic. Why not just change the language of the exemption from the minimum wage, so that anyone who gets a tip is exempt. That way, employers can pay them anything they want. Never mind the slow periods where tips don't come in. Never mind the economic downturns that kill off tips. Never mind any of this. Let's just work 'em 50 hours without overtime and then make 'em live off their tips.

There's more GOP corruption afoot. But these two are the ones that show the Republican's true colors. Pro-business, anti-middle class.

It's time to wake up people.