The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

73° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Republicans out of touch with working class

Republicans have been riding a wave of increasingly favorable public opinion for the past two years, but their anti-working class agenda will lose them votes at the ballot box this November.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “”The Last Word,”” host Lawrence O’Donnell asked Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to specify the amount of the federal minimum wage.

After attempting to change the subject and accusing O’Donnell of “”trap playing,”” Steele, unable to answer the question, declared that the minimum wage was irrelevant, a slap in the face to the country’s estimated 980,000 minimum-wage workers.

Steele’s days as chairman of the RNC are numbered. He will have plenty of time to learn about the relevance of the federal minimum wage while waiting for his weekly unemployment compensation to kick in.

But Steele is not alone in his indifference to the plight of America’s minimum wage worker. Several Republican Senatatorial candidates seemingly agree with the chairman’s statements.

Rand Paul of Kentucky, Linda McMahon of Connecticut and Washington’s Dino Rossi have all entertained the idea of adjustments to the federal minimum wage. John Raese of West Virginia believes it should be abolished altogether. “”I profess that (the) minimum wage be eliminated and we operate on the laws of supply and demand just like we did before the depression,”” the wealthy businessman said at a candidate forum last month.

Alaskan Tea Party candidate Joe Miller has even suggested that the federal minimum wage is unconstitutional. If he had paid attention in high school civics, he would be aware of the fact that its constitutionality was affirmed in 1941, nearly 70 years ago.

In recent months, Republicans have provided an ailing Democratic Party with plenty of political ammo. Democrats have used Steele’s recent statements to hammer the theme that Republicans will repeal the minimum wage. This strategy will undoubtedly prove advantageous this November, given that the Republican Party’s base is overwhelmingly blue-collar.

Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich added insult to injury last week, urging Republican candidates to portray Democrats as the party of food stamps, a program which currently serves 37.9 million Americans.

Such rhetoric alienates the independent voter as well as the nearly 50 million unemployed people struggling to make ends meet in the current economic recession.

According to a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, nearly two-thirds of Americans favor increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour. 51 percent of the survey’s respondents identified themselves as Republican.

The party’s unequivocal opposition to the federal minimum wage, like its intent to extend the Bush tax cuts, only lends credence to the argument that Republicans are far too accommodating to the wealthy.

The federal minimum wage was established in 1938, at the height of the Great Depression, in order to ensure a “”minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general wellbeing.”” Reducing or eliminating the minimum wage in a recessionary economy is not only economically unsound but immoral.

The Republican Party, far too concerned with serving the interests of corporate bankers and multi-millionaires, has once again proven that it is abysmally out of touch with America’s working class.

— Nyles Kendall is a political science junior. He can be reached at

More to Discover
Activate Search