Minimum Wage: A 'Snakepit' Issue for the GOP?

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Alaska's Tea Party insurgent Joe Miller has become the latest GOP candidate to express opposition to a federal minimum wage. In an ABC/Politico interview with Mike Allen he stated that it is "not within the scope of the powers that are given to the federal government." That assertion joins him to a growing list of Republican candidates who have made similar statements, including Linda McMahon, John Raese and Dino Rossi. Democrats seem eager to fight on this territory, preparing attack ads to energize the base and paint both the Tea Party and the larger Republican establishment as radical and out-of-touch with mainstream America.

  • The 'Snakepit' of Minimum Wage  Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein quotes DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz, who lays out the Democrats' plan of attack: "Joe Miller followed Linda McMahon into the snakepit of minimum wage," said Eric Schultz. "Last week, Republicans in Washington tried to stop the outsourcing of American jobs. This week Republicans seem intent on getting rid of the minimum wage. What exactly do Republicans have against America workers?"
  • These Statements Will Be in Ads Very Soon figures Jeremy P. Jacobs at The Hotline. "To be sure, some have gone farther than others, but Democrats believe that the statements are political death wishes as unemployment holds steady around 10%. Democrats view the issue as a base energizer, particularly among union members. They also plan to use the statements to show that Republicans are out of touch and out of the mainstream for their states - a line of attack they have already been using in most of these states."
  • Minimum Wage 'On Chopping Block' at least that's how this far-right GOP contingent appears to be headed, writes The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen. The debate used to be, "limited to two camps: those who want to keep the rate where it is, and those who want to increase it." Now, the same candidate who, "also believes that federal unemployment benefits, Medicare, and Social Security should all be eliminated" is helping to revive the issue.
  • What Is Miller Thinking? wonders Greg Sargent at The Washington Post. "It's hard to overstate how extreme Miller's position is. After the New Deal passed, Republicans ultimately realized that they would have to accept the New Deal's main achievements as permanent pillars of society in order to remain a viable national party. Miller seems to want to relitigate something the GOP already hashed out more than a half century ago."
  • He Needs to Understand American History Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress explains why Joe Miller's statement that minimum wage is not within the "scope" of the powers given to the federal government is false:
The Constitution gives Congress the power “[t]o regulate commerce…among the several states,” a power which even ultraconservative Justice Antonin Scalia agrees gives Congress broad authority to regulate “economic activity.” Moreover, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the first federal minimum wage law in a 1941 decision called United States v. Darby. That decision did not just uphold the minimum wage, it also expressly overruled an egregious 1918 decision striking down federal child labor laws. Darby therefore provides a frightening window into just what America would look like if it were ever ruled by Joe Miller’s twisted constitution. If Congress lacks the power to enact the basic employment laws like the minimum wage, then it also lacks the power to enact other fundamental labor protections such as regulating child labor.

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