There were hugs and tears of joy in the House chambers Thursday as Nancy Pelosi became the first woman chosen to serve as speaker of the House. It was all about “celebrating estrogen.” Let’s leave aside for the now the nagging question of whether the shenanigans were appropriate and ask the far more important one: Is Nancy Pelosi really good for women?
If you favor deciding how to spend the money you earn (as opposed to sending it to Washington for pandering legislators and faceless bureaucrats to dispense it for you), if you believe that victory in Iraq is the only exit strategy, or if you’d like real reform of the rot on Capitol Hill (as opposed to cosmetic, if you’ll pardon the expression, reform), then you will agree with us that Nancy Pelosi is not good for women.
We were hoping that the Bush tax cuts would become permanent. Not because we’re fat cats. We aren’t. Like many Americans, we work hard and depend on a vibrant economy to allow us to make a decent living and save for retirement. Unlike us, Nancy Pelosi loves taxes (and, presumably, many of the tax-loving folk are, like Pelosi, so rich that the issue becomes an abstraction rather than something with which we must grapple in our daily lives). “Middle class families may be surprised that the Democrat’s agenda of repealing Bush’s ‘tax cuts for the rich’ will put a serious squeeze on their family budget,” IWF’s Carrie Lukas noted in an article that originally appeared on Townhall.
One of the first items on Pelosi’s agenda is raising the minimum wage. This, too is cosmetic. Why? Because, as a Heritage Foundation special report on Pelosi’s planned legislation notes, most minimum wage earners are teenagers or college students. Minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs; people earning minimum wages are able to move up without government intervention. Raising the minimum wage will eliminate many entry level jobs.
Columnist George Will calls raising the minimum wage –a bad idea whose time has come:
“Democrats consider the minimum wage increase a signature issue. So, consider what it says about them:
‘Most of the working poor earn more than the minimum wage, and most of the 0.6 percent (479,000 in 2005) of U.S. wage workers earning the minimum wage are not poor. Only one in five workers earning the federal minimum lives in families with household earnings below the poverty line. Sixty percent work part-time and their average household income is well over $40,000. (The average and median household incomes are $63,344 and $46,326 respectively.)
‘Forty percent of U.S. workers are salaried. Of the 75.6 million paid by the hour, 1.9 million earn the federal minimum or less, and of those, more than half are under 25 and more than a quarter are between 16 and 19. Many are students or other part-time workers. Sixty percent of those earning the federal minimum or less work in restaurants and bars and are earning tips — often untaxed, perhaps — in addition to their wages. Two-thirds of those earning the federal minimum today will, a year from now, have been promoted and be earning 10 percent more. Raising the minimum wage predictably makes work more attractive relative to school for some teenagers, and raises the dropout rate. Two scholars report that in states that allow people to leave school before 18, a 10 percent increase in the state minimum wage caused teenage school enrollment to drop 2 percent.”
Speaking of purely cosmetic legislation,here is what Daniel Henninger says about Pelosi’s plans to clean up corruption:
“The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that the ethics package proposed by new Speaker Nancy Pelosi is mainly about ‘cleaning up’ politics. Maybe. But it’s first of all about cleaning the clocks of the Republicans.”
We can’t help thinking that some clocks needed cleaning (What if Republicans had reacted angrily to early warning signals about Rep. Foley as a moral problem rather than an image problem?). But is Pelosi really cleaning house? Read the rules, says Henninger:
“Speaker Pelosi is breaking a champagne victory bottle over the hull of a new set of House ethics rules. If you stare at these rules awhile, eventually you notice that they are less about the members of Congress than about someone else. They are about the bad people who lead the innocent lambs of Congress astray. ‘They are about ‘lobbyists’ and ‘private interests’ and, not least, ‘corporate jets,’ which for the modern member of Congress appear to be the rough equivalent of demon rum’.”
The set of ethics rules proposed yesterday by Speaker Pelosi should be called the Condé Nast Traveler Ban.
Though this does not really address the morality of the representatives themselves, it will, as Henninger notes, serve to rescue those poor rubes who sacrifice their careers to play golf in Scotland.
We don’t think Nancy Pelosi is good for the country–or for women. But we agree with Byron York that she might be good for Republicans:
“An important political consequence of the Democratic takeover is that it liberates Republicans from the compulsion they had felt to abandon their principles in order to try to protect their majority. As Nancy Pelosi took the speaker’s gavel, President Bush sounded the sort of clarion calls on fiscal responsibility-endorsing a balanced budget in five years and earmark reform-that he never did when free-spending, earmarking Republicans controlled the Hill. He hopes to box in Democrats with their own anti-deficit rhetoric and force them either to forgo major new spending or embrace politically perilous tax increases.
“This is the kind of choice Democrats were able to avoid in November when they became a default majority– a majority elected not for what it stood for, but for what it was not. Eventually, Democrats will have to move beyond their default position if they want a record of substantive accomplishment after the pageantry and symbolism of the 100 hours have passed.”