Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Democrats: Branding and Hypocrisy on the Minimum Wage

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

President Obama and national Democratic party spokespeople now agree that the minimum wage ought to be raised, and the mighty executive pen of the White House will soon force federal contractors to pay workers at least $10.10 an hour. Though this only applies to federal contractors, and can be rolled back if Republicans win the White House in 2016 it IS better than a sharp stick in the eye. It's also something the president could have done five years ago, during his first hours in office.

Back in 2007 and 2008, when President Obama was candidate Obama he campaigned on a promise to put legislation through Congress to raise the minimum wage, and to reform labor law so as to make it easier for workers to organize unions and fight for their rights on the job. Both those cynical promises were immediately forgotten when Barack Obama assumed the presidency, and during the two years his party held a thumping majority in the House with a narrower one in the Senate. The administration has never mentioned easing the restrictions on union organizing again, but once in a while, when their poll numbers get low enough, and as long as Republicans are safely in control of the House of Representatives, they dust off their rhetoric on the minimum wage. This is one of those times.

To tell the truth, $10.10 an hour isn't much, it's such a low floor that it probably can pass the House if leaders ever allow a floor vote. But it's far from a wage that will lift people out of poverty.

The elite bipartisan consensus – that's the president and his spokespeople and Republicans too, agree that the “solution” is not so much raising the wage for what people already DO as “training” which will make them fit for better jobs. But that's a joke as well. The US economy isn't producing “better jobs.” Starbucks is full of baristas with M.A. degrees, and most college teachers are now “adjuncts” which means their advanced degrees enable them to work for poverty wages and few or no benefits. PhD incomes have fallen off a cliff the last ten years as colleges and universities re-organize themselves more to resemble the corporations who rule our society.

Early in his presidency, Barack Obama proposed recalculating social security benefits to lower them, and late last year he signed off on the reduction of unemployment benefits he now wants immoral Republicans to take all the blame for.

It's not hard to see that Democrats only take up the cause of the minimum wage when Republicans are in office, to reinforce their fake brand as champions of the oppressed. When they're in power, and raising that wage is a sure thing, their attention is somewhere else. But once Republicans get the House or the Senate, they talk about “passing a jobs bill”, about “universal pre-K” and about raising the minimum wage, more to embarrass Republicans than with a view to actually accomplishing any of these things.

They are all branding slogans, blatant and shallow hypocrisy, but so far they have worked to reinforce the Democrats' brand as the party of the oppressed. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and serves on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be contacted via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20140115_bd_hypocrisy_on_minimum_wage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:06pm EDT