HIGHTOWER: Congress Copes with Economic Need

Two news stories on the same day: One tells about a group of Americans falling behind, the other about a group getting ahead.

The Wall Street Journal has the first story, reporting a reality that millions of American families don't need to read about, since they're literally living the story. The headline declares "Working Full Time Is No Longer Enough," and the article confirms that despite the widely ballyhooed fact that millions of new jobs are being created in today's "boom" economy, the low pay of so many of these jobs is leaving full-time, year round workers in poverty. Indeed, full-time poverty jobs are more prevalent today than they were thirty years ago. The reason, as the Journal reports, is that well-paying, unionized, manufacturing jobs are rapidly being shipped out of country, while the new "boom-time" jobs being created are in the retail and service industries -- the two lowest-paying sectors.

Story number two was only a one-paragraph item in USA Today, covering a much happier bunch of American workers. This is a small group, but it's doing very nicely, thank you, having just received its third pay raise in the past four years. The group is the U.S. House of Representatives, which recently reached a bipartisan agreement to reward itself with a $4,200 cost-of-living increase, bringing its annual paycheck to $145,500. raise

This increase for our congress critters is about 40 percent of the total, gross, annual paycheck of a full-time, minimum-wage worker. This generosity for themselves comes from a congress that continues to dilly-dally over a proposal to raise the minimum wage by a pathetic dollar-an-hour -- phased in over the next three years. Even then, a full-time employee would only make about $12,000 a year.

This is Jim Hightower saying . . . By the way, both parties agreed not to make the latest congressional pay raise an issue in this year's election because, they said, it's unpopular with voters. Yeah.

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