On the News With Thom Hartmann: Mitch McConnell Wants a New Campaign Finance Loophole, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Mitch McConnell thinks that there wasn’t enough spending in the last election; one city wants to do more to protect retail employees; there are still about 9 million Americans out of work in this country; and more.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News…

You need to know this. Apparently, Mitch McConnell thinks that there wasn’t enough spending in the last election. The incoming-Senate Majority Leader wants to slip a new campaign finance loophole into the upcoming budget bill. Currently, individual candidates can receive $5,200 per donor in an election cycle, but national and state party committees can received much, much more. There are regulatory limits on how much those parties can coordinate with candidates on political advertising. However, McConnell is trying to attach a policy rider to the omnibus bill that would remove the restrictions on candidates and parties working together to coordinate spending on advertising. The only restriction left in McConnell’s rider says that party spending could not be “controlled by, or made at the direction of” the candidate. It doesn’t take a criminal mastermind to see how easy it would be to get around that guideline. If his rider is successful, it would make the individual campaign contribution limits meaningless, as billionaires could simply donate more to the parties and candidates could influence how that money is spent. McConnell himself helped clear the path for massive donations to parties in the McCutcheon case – which eliminated the aggregate cap on how much one individual could donate to political parties. Now, the Republican leader wants to be rewarded for his hard work. We’ve seen the damage that massive campaign spending has done to our political system. We must continue to call for an amendment that says money is not speech, and we’ve got to fight hard to keep the meager regulations we’ve got left. Call your Senators and tell them to keep McConnell’s rider out of the budget, and tell them that we will keep fighting until we get the money out of our political system once and for all.

Many of us were outraged that retail stores forced employees to give up their holiday so that they could start their Black Friday sales a day early. While we can decide to spend our hard-earned money at stores that respect their workers, one city wants to do more to protect retail employees. Recently, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to support a new “Retail Workers Bill of Rights” that will force companies to show a little respect for their sales associates. If approved by the City, that measure will apply to all chain store and restaurant employees, and it mirrors a federal measure that Tom Harkin introduced to the U.S. Senate. The bill would encourage companies to offer more employees full-time schedules, discourage unpredictable scheduling practices that keep workers from getting an education or second job, and it would require that companies pay workers who are considered “on-call.” In addition, the legislation would prohibit pay discrimination for part-time workers and protect employees in a companies that have been bought or sold. These common-sense protections are great news for workers in San Francisco, and they show how retail workers should be treated in every state in our nation.

There are still about 9 million Americans out of work in this country. But, it’s clear that Republicans won’t let our government invest in our nation to put people to work. Since Congress won’t act, Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research says that we can create demand for new jobs just by taking more vacation. When workers are out for sick days, vacation, or family leave, someone has to step in to their role, which means that someone else works for that time. In a recent article, Dean used Germany to explain how this policy can reduce unemployment. The average person in that country works 400 fewer hours a year than the average American, and their unemployment rate is on 5 percent. If we adopted the shorter work schedule and paid time off that Germany uses, 20 million more Americans could have a job right now. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it makes perfect sense. If Republicans won’t help us create jobs, we can push businesses to do so by taking the time off we deserve.

Depending on your gender, you may be paying a lot more for certain things. According to a new article by Hannah Gold at Alternet, so-called “gender pricing” is pretty common in our country. For instance, women are still charged more for healthcare, despite new regulations in the Affordable Care Act. However, men are typically forced to pay more for car insurance, even if they have a similar driving record to their female counterpart. This price discrimination extends into many other products and services as well. Bars and nightclubs often feature “ladies nights,” when they offer reduced cover charges or drink prices to women, but virtually never offer similar specials for men. Hair salons and dry cleaners also charge women more for services than they charge men, and car dealerships have been documented pricing a car 40 percent higher for a woman than they did for a man. These types of gender discrimination are well known, but they’re perfectly legal. There is no federal law to prevent unequal pricing of goods and services. Perhaps it’s time our lawmakers remedy this injustice.

And finally… It looks like some Democrats know how to negotiate. Thanks to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, workers in Chicago are getting a raise. Last week, the Chicago City Council passed a measure to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour. In a 44-to-5 vote, the council passed the measure, which will go into effect gradually. Mayor Emmanuel used a proposal for an even higher wage as leverage, which was submitted by a group of Chicago aldermen, to pressure the City Council to adopt his bill. Instead of starting the negotiation at the point of his goal, Rahm Emmanuel recognized he had to from a higher point to ensure workers in his city ended up with a reasonable wage. If only more of our national lawmakers understood this basic principle. So, thanks to the successful bargaining, workers in Chicago are getting a raise, and that group of aldermen vow to keep fighting for a $15 minimum wage.

And that’s the way it is – for the week of December 8, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.