Today's News & Commentary –– August 7, 2015
Heating up television screens last night on Fox News was the first GOP Presidential Debate of the 2016 presidential season. Seventeen candidates sparred over the economy, immigration reform, women’s health, but only a few had anything to say about American workers and American jobs. Jeb Bush, whose gaffe last month about Americans needing to work more hours drew criticism and coverage from this OnLabor post, emphasized that more workers need full-time opportunities. “6.5 million people are working part-time, most of whom want to work full-time.” He also suggested, in tune with the small-government theme of the night, that federal regulations are “job killers” and that Obama care “suppress[es] wages and kill[s] jobs.” The other candidate who tackled the issue head-on was Gov. Scott Walker, highlighting his track record in Wisconsin. “Before I came in, the unemployment rate was over eight percent. It’s now down to 4.6 percent . . . the rate in which people are working is almost five points higher than it is nationally.” Echoing Bush, Walker also plugged small-government as the key to job growth, “I think most of us in American understand that people, not the government creates jobs.” “Get the government out of the way.” For a transcript of the debate click here.
Although neither Mike Huckabee, nor any other GOP candidate for that matter, fielded questions about unions last night, Huckabee has drawn attention recently for his unusual stance on union membership and his courtship of the union vote. Last week Huckabee was the only Republican presidential hopeful to attend the AFL-CIO endorsement meeting, reports the Washington Post. He expressed general support for collective bargaining and unionization, “[t]hat’s a choice people ought to be able to make,” and reminded the audience that many union members are part of –– or could be part of –– the Republic base, despite the overwhelmingly democratic-bend of AFL-CIO and other organized labor groups. CBS News quoted Huckabee as saying, “Some of those union members are pro-life. Some of those union members, you know, are church-going, gun-owning people that really are philosophically more Republican except for maybe the political leaning of their unions.” Hillary Rodham Clinton, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and ex-Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) were the democratic presidential candidates also slated to meet with the organized-labor powerhouse last week.
On the democratic campaign trail, Hillary Clinton recently visited a technical college in Los Angeles packed with home health-care workers represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The message? Raise wages. “We won our contract for $15 an hour, but there are still lots of home health-care workers, both private and public sector, that don’t make $15 an hour. T hey need to have a living wage,” said one worker to Clinton according to CNN politics. But the former Secretary of State is on the record as equivocating on raising the minimum wage to $15 nationally. She supported New York’s fast food workers’ hard-fought and -won campaign for $15, but doubts whether their victory should be replicated across the country. “The cost of living in Manhattan is different than Little Rock and many other places, so New York and Los Angeles or Seattle are right to go higher.” Without committing to any number, Clinton assured her audience that she would fight for higher wages and that it was “inadequate” that home-care workers made hourly wages. But the verdict is still out on whether Clinton’s push will be enough to win the working vote.