Minimum Wages Set to Increase in Many States in 2017 – By  Eric Morath Dec. 30, 2016 5:30 a.m. ET

About 4.4 million low-wage workers across the country are slated to receive a raise

Workers at a McDonald’s Corp. location in New York. At the start of 2017, the minimum wage for fast-food workers in the city will rise to $12 an hour, just one of many increases to the pay floor across the country to begin the new year.ENLARGE

Workers at a McDonald’s Corp. location in New York. At the start of 2017, the minimum wage for fast-food workers in the city will rise to $12 an hour, just one of many increases to the pay floor across the country to begin the new year. Photo: Richard Drew/Associated Press

Minimum wages will increase in 20 states at the start of the year, a shift that will lift pay for millions of individuals and shed light on a long-running debate about whether mandated pay increases at the bottom do more harm or good for workers.

In Massachusetts, the minimum wage will rise $1, to $11 an hour, a change that affects about 291,000 workers. In California, the minimum goes up 50 cents, to $10.50 an hour, boosting pay for 1.7 million individuals.

Wages are also going up in many Republican-led states, where politicians have traditionally been skeptical of the benefits of minimum-wage increases.

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Sanders Centers Platform Fight On Trans-Pacific Trade Deal – ARNIE SEIPEL July 3, 2016 12:50 PM ET

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., delivers a speech titled "Where We Go From Here" on June 24 in Albany, N.Y.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., delivers a speech titled “Where We Go From Here” on June 24 in Albany, N.Y. — Mike Groll/AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders went out of his way Sunday to find praise for the Democratic party’s platform drafting committee, but there is one major sticking point: The Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Sanders wants the final platform to unequivocally oppose the free-trade deal that was negotiated by the Obama administration, saying it “threatens our democracy” in an op-ed published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday.

The runner-up in the Democratic primary contest did refer to the draft platform, which was released on Friday, as “an excellent start” for its provisions calling for a 21st-century Glass-Steagall Act, expanding Social Security, closing loopholes in the corporate tax code, infrastructure investment, ending the death penalty and eliminating superPACs.

Sanders called for stronger language on enacting a national minimum wage at $15 per hour. The draft platform states, “We believe that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour,” but it does not explicitly call for legislation to that end.

Sanders’ strongest condemnation was reserved for how the party proposes handling TPP. Here’s what the draft platform says about it:

On the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), there are a diversity of views in the party. Many Democrats are on record stating that the agreement does not meet the standards set out in this platform; other Democrats have expressed support for the agreement. But all Democrats believe that any trade agreement must protect workers and the environment and not undermine access to critically-needed prescription drugs.

It’s an issue that has divided the White House from many Democrats. Hillary Clinton helped promote the deal as it was being drafted when she was Secretary of State. But Clinton came out in opposition to it last October, just before the first Democratic primary debate.

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The Fight for $15 Is Unreasonable. That’s Why It’s Winning. – By Jordan Weissmann APRIL 1 2016 7:23 PM

It’s working. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It’s working.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When fast food workers first marched off their jobs in late 2012 to protest for $15-an-hour pay, their demands seemed as hopeless as they were heartfelt. In labor-friendly New York, where the protests began, the state minimum wage was just $7.25, same as the federal rate. President Obama was still a full year from backing a national minimum of $10.10. In most of the country, liberals had spent the past two years on defense, fighting kamikaze tactics by Tea Party Republicans in Congress and trying to fend off labor-gutting legislation in the states. Doubling the pay floor wasn’t on anybody’s to-do list.

Those marches, of course, kicked off the movement now known as Fight for $15. Far from hopeless, it has turned out to be the most successful progressive political project of the late Obama era, both practically and philosophically. On Thursday, California became the first state to pass a $15 minimum, which will be phased in by 2022, giving raises to a projected 5.6 million workers. Just hours later, lawmakers in Albany struck a deal that will raise the minimum within New York City to $15 by the end of 2018, before gradually ratcheting it that high across the rest of the Empire State.

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Parties play post ‘vote-a-rama’ gotcha game – By Rachael Bade and Seung Min Kim 4/4/15 8:45 AM EDT Updated 4/4/15 8:45 AM EDT

POLITICO illustration / AP and iStock

Coming soon to a Senate race near you: ugly attack ads slamming Republicans for voting to privatize Medicare, while Democrats get blasted for pushing new carbon taxes on everyday Americans.

Welcome to the 2016 election after the Senate’s budget “vote-a-rama,” where senators cast dozens of votes, failed to change one law, and yet still gave their campaign committees an arsenal of political ammunition.

Because the budget is a non-binding blueprint, all the “yeas” and “nays” from the vote-a-rama didn’t have any real-world impact. But the dozens of ballots gave each party a chance to make the other look bad. Democrats forced the GOP to take positions on issues spanning climate change to the minimum wage. Not to be outdone, Republicans scored some points by forcing Democrats to vote against tax cuts and their own living-wage proposal.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee have already fired opening shots based off budget votes, as they compile the list of roll calls they’ll use in advertisements against senators up for re-election. Those budget votes could be fodder for attack ads against senators in swing states — including Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

Here’s a look at the votes from last week that will likely have a long political shelf-life:

Equal pay

On pay equity, Democrats and Republicans tried different strategies to woo women voters.

The two sides offered dueling amendments aimed at narrowing the pay gap between men and women — but with different ways of getting there.

The Democrats’ version, like their much-touted Paycheck Fairness Act that was blocked by the GOP in past years, makes it easier for women to sue for punitive damages and bans retaliation against employees for sharing salary information.

But Republicans have argued that the Democratic plan would be a litigation bonanza. To counter, the GOP offered up a proposal from Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), which also tries to stop retaliation against workers who discuss salary details but has no lawsuit provision.

Fischer called her measure a “reasonable, fact-based approach” but Democrats begged to differ. During the floor debate, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called the Democratic plan “the only proposal on the table right now” that would help close the gender pay gap.

Fischer’s amendment passed with all Republicans and two Senate Democrats voting in favor: Joe Donnelly of Indiana and independent Angus King of Maine. No Republicans sided with Democrats on their pay equity bill, and King voted against it as well.


“Ending Medicare as we know it” has been a Democratic refrain ever since Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced his plan to dramatically reform the health care program for seniors — and this election cycle will be no exception.

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President Obama’s no-Congress strategy

President Obama is pictured. | AP Photo

The president is done caring about congressional Republicans calling him a dictator. | AP Photo


President Barack Obama is planning to bypass congressional Republicans with a surge of executive actions and orders on issues like voting rights, health care, job creation, the economy, climate change and immigration.

And this time, he really, really, really means it. Really.

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Obama’s started to sell his pitch to congressional Democrats, meeting with caucus groups at the White House and going to the Hill on Wednesday morning to speak with House and Senate Democrats.

(PHOTOS: Obama’s second term)

“I have to figure out what I can do outside of Congress through executive actions,” Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus earlier this month, according to Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.).

“He’s very ready to use his executive powers whenever possible,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) who heard Obama discuss the new approach at a meeting of the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus to the White House last week.

With the clock running on Obama’s time in office — he’s even started marking the number of days left in public speeches — the president is done caring about congressional Republicans calling him a dictator. Or calling him at all.

Obama can’t ignore Republicans forever. There’s no way for the president to avoid negotiations to get continuing resolutions to avoid a government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling — and depending how things go, rebuff GOP efforts to defund Obamacare and possibly a compromise on immigration reform. Chief of staff Denis McDonough’s functioning as an almost one-man legislative affairs office can’t do it all.

(Also on POLITICO: W.H. seeks to redefine grand bargain)

And he’s used the executive authority tactic before, including last summer’s controversial move to cut deportations for younger illegal immigrants and the mental health focus he announced as part of his gun control agenda after the Newtown massacre.

But administration officials and advisers say what’s ahead will be more extensive and frequent than previous efforts, and the White House is on the hunt for anything that can move without congressional approval, including encouraging efforts like Attorney General Eric Holder’s lawsuits to find new avenues of enforcement in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act last month.

He’s even started soliciting suggestions for where to move next. Bass and other CBC members asked him to change the Medicaid process in territories to base allocations on income level, to repeal the Bush minimum wage federal contractor policies and to address child welfare. The CAPAC members also offered suggestions like changing the federal government’s process of recognizing native Hawaiians.

Obama told them he was open to all of them, and said his staff is working on others in the model of the new emission standards he announced as part of his climate agenda last month.

Eventually, executive actions and orders will be unveiled as part of the economic agenda Obama began hinting at in his speeches last week, addressing things like mortgage refinancing and restructuring — which is about as extensive as the White House expects things to get, even as they talk of welcoming negotiations with Republicans over the debt ceiling. And get ready, he’s told people, for a whole lot more recess appointments if Republicans start blocking his nominees again.

Executive actions are a familiar move for second-term presidents, and one that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush came to know well: rules and regulations can have deep and wide impact, and they come without all the messiness of Capitol Hill.

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