January 14, 2007

"Most ethical Congress ever." My ass. Maybe.

Not only that, but remember -- the Dems were all over that minimum wage increase:

Democrats will repeal taxpayer subsidies that promote shipping jobs overseas and we will raise the minimum wage. Democrats will ensure that economic growth benefits all Americans, not just the privileged few.

Just don't count American Samoa in that increase, however:

After passing their minimum wage legislation earlier this week the Washington Times noted that that Speaker Pelosi exempted hometown companies from minimum wage increases by passing legislation that excluded American Samoa. Her husband is reported to be a major stockholder in Del Monte, one of the hometown companies in question.

Yep. Paul Pelosi owns $17 million in Del Monte stock, whose subsidiary Starkist Tuna is the largest employer in American Samoa. Indeed, 75% of American Samoa's workforce is employed in the tuna industry.

What's that again about economic growth benefits helping everyone and not just the privileged few -- like you and your husband -- Nancy?

Do as I say, not as I do.

(Also check out a funny moment in the House when Republican Patrick McHenry asked Barney Frank, who was in the Speaker's position, about exempting American Samoa from a stem-cell bill!)

UPDATE: Ryan at Jokers to the Right was ahead of the curve on this story as he made Pelosi his "Hack of the Week" for last week.

UPDATE: Looks like the whole flap may now be moot: Pelosi calls for Samoa to be included in minimum wage bill.

"I have asked the Education and Labor Committee, as they go forward with the legislation, to make sure that all of the territories have to comply with U.S. law on the minimum wage," Pelosi announced yesterday.

Pelosi aides said the committee would be asked to work toward having all territories use the same wage standard.

Fair enough. But will Repubs be proven correct on the negative effects of the min. wage, especially in Samoa?

Posted by Hube at January 14, 2007 10:59 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I'd be interested to hear your take on these tidbits:

1) Samoa was already exempt from the minimum wage. Its wages are reviewed every two years by the labor department. Of course, now that the GOP made a big deal, the Dems reversed course and that will be changed! Go GOP! Fighting for the little guy.

2) The reason the bill excluded Samoa was because their nonvoting delegate joined Republicans in saying it was a bad idea (though now that they smelled scandal, they think it's a great idea!) To believe that Pelosi persuaded this dude to fall on his sword -- a week before the GOP jumped on it... to protect her personal stock interests seems like quite the tin foil hat conspiracy.

3) The Moonies also report that Del Monte has not lobbied the Democratic Congress, and has in fact only given money to Republicans in recent years.

Posted by: dan at January 14, 2007 11:54 AM

Samoa was already exempt from the minimum wage.

Irrelevant. If the Dems are so intent on what they deem "fair," there should be NO exemptions.

The reason the bill excluded Samoa was because their nonvoting delegate joined Republicans in saying it was a bad idea

Oh, so of course the Dems go along with HIM but say "Forget it!" to all the other Repubs who say such a raise is a bad idea! They're so virtuous, those Dems!! Talk about your tinfoil hat!

Posted by: Hube at January 14, 2007 12:17 PM

Irrelevant.

Irrelevant? Irrelevant to claims that this is an ethical breach by Pelosi and the Dems?
Please, can you just answer this question: How is the fact that Congress, since the 50's, has had no hand in Samoa's minimum wage, irrelevant to the notion that Pelosi is keeping the wage down for personal gain?

The Dems are going to screw up so many times, Hube. They'll contradict themselves, shoot themselves in the foot, etc. You'll have countless chances to torch them. But this one's just ridiculous.

Posted by: dan at January 14, 2007 12:45 PM

Lol. Nice, Dan.

Posted by: Phillybits at January 14, 2007 01:27 PM

Hube:
Why can't we learn who put this little amendment into the bill?

I assume it has parents and was not a miraculous exception?

Posted by: AJ Lynch at January 14, 2007 01:41 PM

AJ,

That's exactly the point. From what I can glean from blogs (of course this isn't mentioned in the mainstream articles):

There is no amendment.

In fact, the bill does not mention American Samoa.

Why? Because of the aforementioned separate procedure for determining the wages for Samoa.

Posted by: dan at January 14, 2007 02:05 PM

There doesn't seem to be an amendment, AJ. The bill was sponsored by Pelosi and George Miller (D-CA). (Link.)

Oops, as I'm writing this, I see dan commented. Yes, there doesn't seem to be an "amendment." But the Marianas Islands have mandated minimum wage increases w/o that labor dept. review board that Samoa has (the MIs have four years to get to $7.25 instead of the states' two years), while Samoa has NO mandated min. wage increase in the bill. It's the only territory not covered in the bill.

Although dan is correct in that there is (and has been) a separate procedure for Samoa, why are they exempt from mandated min. wage increases but other territories are not?

Dan sure may be right that there will be "better" things to go after with the Dems; however, if the Dems' stated message (in my post) is accurate, then why doesn't it apply to Samoa (especially if it's good enough for the MIs)?? As Dan usually does, it's "But it's BEEN that way ..." which of course is an OK retort, (just don't point out that the Clinton Admin. ALSO gave Halliburton no-bid contracts too ... b/c it's "worse" under George Bush!), but it sure seems smelly that Samoa gets exempt when Pelosi's hubby owns all that stock, and also how we're constantly lectured about how important a min. wage increase is for "everybody."

Funny, then, how a typical GOP argument is offered for NOT raising the min. wage in Samoa (job loss)!!

Posted by: Hube at January 14, 2007 02:30 PM

Actually, the fact that the legislation eliminated the exemption for the Northern Marianas (one Tom DeLay supported over and which was pointed to as "benefiting special interests" by Dems) while keeping the one that benefited Queen Nancy's husband's portfolio is rather important in my book. Indeed, the legislation makes the Samoa exemption the ONLY EXEMPTION anywhere in US territory! How convenient.

And tell me, dan and other lefties, would Pelosi be overturning this injustice if she and the Dems had not been caught?

Posted by: Rhymes With Right at January 14, 2007 03:25 PM

Is it really a good idea to have the territories at the same Min. Wage level as the States? What is the relative wage scale/economic reality. Is there maybe a good reason to use a different approach to Min Wage in these areas?

I think that both playing "gotcha" and legislating defensively, based on the amercan political practice of gotcha, are bad ideas.

Posted by: Mike Mahaffie at January 14, 2007 05:19 PM

Isn't that an argument against the minimum wage in general? After all, a small town in Montana or Vermont is a much different economic reality than, say, New York City or LA.

Posted by: Paul Smith at January 14, 2007 05:45 PM

You beat me to it, Paul! Or, to put it another way, exactly.

Posted by: Hube at January 14, 2007 05:57 PM

go figure...the Washington times.... a non partisan newspaper all the way.


pass the Sushi!

Posted by: donviti at January 15, 2007 04:46 PM

No, I don't think my wondering about the value of having the same minimum wage in American Samoa does argue against a minimum wage that is standard across the States. There may be a difference between small town and big cities in the States, but it's not nearly as wide a gap as that between the Samoan and Stateside economies.

Further, a national minimum wage should be the minimum it takes to survive in areas at the lower end of the cost-of-living scale. I think (and I may be wrong) that it is currently up to states to set their own minimums if they need to be different from the national minimum.

It is also the case that a responsible employer will pay higher than the minimum wage in those areas, so as to be able to attract workers who will be able to make it and stay on the job.

Despite this wrangling, I think that this "controversy" is a bit of a reach. But don't mind me.....

Posted by: Mike at January 15, 2007 08:27 PM

I think (and I may be wrong) that it is currently up to states to set their own minimums if they need to be different from the national minimum.

States can go higher than the federal minimum, but do not have the freedom to go lower than the minimum if the national minimum is too high for their state.

It is also the case that a responsible employer will pay higher than the minimum wage in those areas, so as to be able to attract workers who will be able to make it and stay on the job.

You've inadvertently given another good argument against the minimum wage: employers will pay higher wages to attract better employees. There's upward pressure on wages just through the actions of the free market. Employers won't pay someone $10/hour (for example) who's not worth that much, for obvious reasons. So people who can't produce at a level required by the minimum wage won't get jobs.

Posted by: Paul Smith at January 16, 2007 11:37 AM