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"Center-tilting" Santorum's trojan horse to destroy wage and hour protections

Geoff Earle at The Hill must be smoking crack. He has a story up, “Santorum shifts left for ’06 run” that makes no sense whatsoever — unless he’s trying to pump up the homo-obsessed senator from Pennsylvania’s prospects.

If we are looking at the ideological spectrum with Ted Kennedy on one end, Mr. Man on Dog from Pennsylvania has to be on the other. Any perceived shift by this dude leftward would only keep him from teetering off the wingnut edge. And it’s all a crock of sh*t anyway, as you will see below — Santorum basically wants to gut the Fair Labor Standards Act. First, Earle’s attempt to spin Santorum’s “shift.”

Santorum, who is up for reelection in 2006 and a possible presidential candidate in 2008, is one of the Democrats’ top targets in a state that was carried by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) last year. Some conservatives have grumbled about Santorum’s recent positions in blogs, conservative editorial pages, and internet sites, although many observers predict Santorum will be able to hold onto GOP base voters in his reelection effort.

Santorum has become the point-man for the GOP leadership on developing a proposal that would raise the minimum wage by $1.10 over two years, to $6.25 an hour. The proposal — which would also include tax cuts intended to lessen the burden on small businesses — was conceived as an alternative to a more generous proposal raising the minimum wage by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Kennedy has been considering offering the proposal to a bankruptcy reform bill this week.

…Asked whether Santorum was tacking left, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said, “The question is, in what ocean is he sailing.” Dorgan continued, “It’d be pretty hard to see that if he did [move left], because he’s so far on the right side of the spectrum.”

Added Phil Singer of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, “His version of running to the left is tilting his body slightly one degree in that direction. He sees that he’s got a tough election campaign coming up, and he’s starting to say, ‘Hmm, maybe I should start representing the people I represent.’” Singer also noted that Santorum voted to prevent a vote on the minimum wage in 2003.

That move to raise the minimum wage, which is purported to represent Santorum’s move toward the center, is no such thing. Armando on DKos points to Labor Blog, which says that this smokescreen is a bold attempt to destroy wage and hour provisions that protect workers — hardly a bleeding heart proposal — it’s an assault on fundamental laws workers take for granted. Read this and your blood will boil.

This is as low as it goes, as the GOP fights to expand sub-minimum wage sweatshops across the country. Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum is leading the charge for a GOP bill that would ostensibly raise the minimum wage by $1.10 per hour, but in reality would cut wages for millions of American workers and expand unregulated sweatshops across the country. As this Economic Policy Institute analysis details, the bill is a trojan horse for assaulting workers rights.

Licensing Sweatshops: While a $1.10 per hour minimum wage increase by itself would help 1.8 million workers, Santorum includes a poison bill exempting any business with revenues of $1 million or less from regulation — raising the exemption from the current $500,000 level.

The upshot: while 1.2 million workers could qualify for a minimum wage increase, another 6.8 million workers, who work in companies with revenues between $500,000 and $1,000,000 per year, would lose their current minimum wage protection.

And an even larger number of businesses, those with revenues under $7 million, would be exempt from fines under a range of other safety, health, pension and other labor laws. Essentially, the realm of unregulated sweatshops would be expanded and legalized under Santorum’s bill. . . .

Banning State Minimum Wage Laws . . .

With Santorum’s bill as law, you would end up with a situation where small and even medium size restaurants and other businesses with tipped employees would be exempt from the federal minimum wage, and state governments would be barred from requiring employers to pay actual wages to tipped workers. Essentially, those workers could be hired for zero dollars and told they had to live only off tips, however little those were.

. . . Killing Overtime: It gets worse– the 40-hour work week would be abolished and companies would not have to pay overtime if they cut hours the next week.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding