By James Risserjames.firstname.lastname@example.org
Fri Jan 12, 2007
Madam Speaker Pelosi has once again hypocritically exempted one of her precious pets from her legislation. As previously mentioned, in HR1 the lobbying reform bill she allowed an exemption for AIPAC and the Aspen group. The very next day, in HR2, she provided an exemption to the Minimum Wage Bill to two companies based in her district, doing business in America Samoa.
If the main function of this site is to pursue electoral victories of Democrats, then, it ought to be a great concern to this community to see that the Democrats currently leading the Party do not turn their backs on the principles that led to their becoming the majority in 2006. The phrase 'culture of corruption' was coined by Ms Pelosi, and several Democrats ran on that premise and won. People do not want corruption and special-interests setting the agenda, and one hoped that those days died when that ridiculous excuse for a Speaker was sent packing.
It appears that Ms Pelosi either did not believe those words when she said them, or, her newly-derived power has changed her definition of 'corruption'.
Madam Pelosi is losing any legitimacy as a leader of a Democratic Party that won in November promising to halt the 'culture of corruption' in Congress. Her hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed by the enemy party:
I am shocked," said Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican and his party's chief deputy whip, noting that Mrs. Pelosi campaigned heavily on promises of honest government. "Now we find out that she is exempting hometown companies from minimum wage. This is exactly the hypocrisy and double talk that we have come to expect from the Democrats.
The article continues to explain the exemption:
The bill also extends for the first time the federal minimum wage to the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands. However, it exempts American Samoa, another Pacific island territory that would become the only U.S. territory not subject to federal minimum-wage laws.
One of the biggest opponents of the federal minimum wage in Samoa is StarKist Tuna, which owns one of the two packing plants that together employ more than 5,000 Samoans, or nearly 75 percent of the island's work force. StarKist's parent company, Del Monte Corp., has headquarters in San Francisco, which is represented by Mrs. Pelosi. The other plant belongs to California-based Chicken of the Sea.
"There's something fishy going on here," said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican.
Yes there is indeed something 'fishy' about Ms Pelosi's first 100 hours. And the fact that the enemy party has been given ammunition to say: 'This is exactly the hypocrisy and double talk that we have come to expect from the Democrats' is not what this Party needs.
Although the Democrats have been silent about this recent pair of exemptions as they were about the first set of exemptions, the fishiness is not lost on the enemy party who openly mocked Ms Pelosi's exemption during the stem-cell research debate:
During the House debate yesterday on stem-cell research, Mr. McHenry raised a parliamentary inquiry as to whether an amendment could be offered that would exempt American Samoa from stem-cell research, "just as it was for the minimum-wage bill."
A clearly perturbed Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who was presiding, cut off Mr. McHenry and shouted, "No, it would not be."
"So, the chair is saying I may not offer an amendment exempting American Samoa?" Mr. McHenry pressed.
"The gentleman is making a speech and will sustain," Mr. Frank shouted as he slammed his large wooden gavel against the rostrum.
Further embarrassment was heaped onto the exemption and is now part of the Congressional Record in a floor-speech titled, The Democratic Agenda:
The only territory, the only location in the jurisdiction of the United States of America exempted from Federal minimum wage law would be American Samoans.
This loophole pleases the tuna corporations that employ thousands of Samoans in canneries at a rate of $3.26 an hour. It is an industry-specific rate that is set by the U.S. Department of Labor.
But the tuna industry has lobbied Congress for years arguing that imposing the Federal minimum wage on Samoa would cripple the economy by driving the canneries to poor countries that don't require a minimum wage.
Then one of the biggest opponents, though, of the U.S. minimum wage there is StarKist tuna, which owns one of the two packing plants that together employ more than 5,000 Samoans. Yet StarKist is about 75 percent of that, about 3,750 employees perhaps at StarKist. Chicken of the Sea would be the other 1,250 employees, totaling the 5,000. Chicken of the Sea is also California based.
But what is interesting, and I think what inspired the gentleman's inquiry this afternoon, was that StarKist's parent company, this company that has now an exemption from minimum wage law, their parent company is Del Monte Corporation, Del Monte Corporation, headquartered in San Francisco, which is the hometown, of course, of our new Speaker.
Now, a spokeswoman for the Speaker said yesterday that the Speaker had not been lobbied in any way by StarKist or Del Monte. That is interesting. I don't know that I could say that about any single company in my district, small company, large company. Trade associations represent multiple interests that might come into that. I am lobbied by individuals, I am lobbied by trade associations, I am lobbied by individual companies over and over again, hundreds and thousands of voices coming into my office.
I welcome them all, but I could not take an oath that there is a single company in my district that has not lobbied me in any way, or, let me expand that, even if that were true, there is no way I could take the oath that not a single company has lobbied any of my staff. There are decisions made by my staff that I take responsibility for. That reflects upon me.
So one could impute from this statement that the Speaker has not been lobbied in any way by StarKist or Del Monte. One can impute to that that also includes the Speaker's staff. I couldn't make that statement about a single company in my district, but this large company, larger than any company in my district, and domiciled in and headquartered in San Francisco, has had no contact with the Speaker's office or staff over any period of time, over, not just within the last week, but over the last 2 years, 4 years, 6 years or more? I think that deserves a little bit of scrutiny.
The time has come for Democrats to stop this sort of nonsense from harming their chances at maintaining their majority. You can rest assured that if this behavior continues, the elections in 2008 will be about what the Democrats didn't do and how they lied to their supporters by not changing the 'culture of corruption' but, it will be claimed, they merely switched from one set of lobbyists and special-interests to another. Democrats were not born in the shit-filled swamp of the enemy party, and we should stop acting as they do when they have power.
Stop the bullshit, Madam Speaker; Democrats are better than that!