Smith Votes No On Minimum Wage

Jeff Alworth

Eight Republicans and one Independent joined all 43 Democrats in voting to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25.  Oregon Republican Gordon Smith was not among them.  You may find this surprising, given that Smith was proud to support the minimum wage increase last fall:

“Although Oregonians receive a wage higher than required by federal law, it’s important to raise the minimum wage across the country.  Working families are facing increases in home heating costs and high gas prices, and their wages should reflect these circumstances.”

Of course, that vote had no chance of passage, going down 42-57, while yesterday's enjoyed a majority of support, but failed to get the 60 votes necessary to pass procedural rules (all the GOP talk of legislation getting "up or down votes" is great until a bill comes up they don't like).  Smith is ready to cast meaningless votes he can attach to press releases, but won't step up to the plate when it counts.

I don't know what Smith's rationale was for his "nay," but other Republicans trotted out the same old, discredited arguments:

"If we do not balance a minimum-wage increase with economic relief for the small businesses, we will stifle job creation and shut the employment door on the very individuals we are trying to help," said Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), author of the GOP alternative.

There's no evidence that the minimum wage causes these harms--to the contrary, most economists agree that a basic minimum wage is a good thing:

Raising the minimum wage would help millions of Americans climb out of desperate poverty and would not be a burden either to the economy or employers.  Gordon Smith has acknowledged this in the past.  Why, then, did he vote against the minimum wage when it really mattered?

  • Jesse Bufton (unverified)

    Good questions. Just more evience that Smith is a tried-and-true Republican in the mold of Frist, Santorum, and friends. I wonder how he's going to vote on Net Neutrality next week. He's one of our main target votes on the committee.

  • (Show?)

    Smith has been voting against an increase in the national minimum wage for years. At least when it counts.

    He also voted against any troop reductions in Iraq today. 'Stay the course, lets get more Oregonians killed.'

    His votes fly in the face of what this state says it wants in poll after poll yet no one in the media talks about how out of touch with us he is.

  • Gordie (unverified)

    With tongue firmly implanted in cheek...

    Maybe Smith was supporting states rights by not forcing them to raise the minimum wage if they don't want to.

  • (Show?)

    The minimum wage has not been raised for twenty years. Gordon Smith's vote is shameful. He needs to get out of his fancy-schmanzy European suits and get real. He should try living on the minimum wage for a month then he'd change his tune. Talk about keeping the under class UNDER! Shame on you Senator Smith.

  • Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis (unverified)

    Nothing Sen Smith does in the pursuit of the success of a Republican agenda surprises me.

    He'll vote the way of his constituents when he can, but when the Party needs him, he'll be there.

    I've never seen him as anything but cynical. He likey his power and he'll stay there, by hook or by crook. Remember the first time he ran, and he not only courted the OCA but acted rather proud of it? After Wyden won, he learnt his lesson, put on a sweater, and did what I call his "Hatfield in an RV" impersonation, and naturally, people bought it.

    I've given up waiting for people to remember that they think they vote for and elect a moderate but what they have is a Grade W Republican. It didn't take a degree in punditry to figure that out either; I'm no genius.

  • KISS (unverified)

    Smith has been a great right winger prick for years. Funny how many think of him as a moderate. Only thing moderate is his driving a Ferrari.He took every give away program US government had for small business...oh that was different.Now on top of the food chain he has no desire to have help programs for the less fortunate. I see his popularity is wearing down..maybe even republicans can see how inept he is.

  • bamabarrron (unverified)

    Sam Klein made the following statement (above) abut Smith: "He'll vote the way of his constituents when he can, but when the Party needs him, he'll be there."

    Sorry Sam I must seriously disagree with you ... I have followed ol greaseball gordon too many years to give him even that much credit. This man could care less about voting what a majority of Oregonians would want. He could care less ... and furthermore ... he will never care about what this state wants unless it happens to somehow intersect with his own narrow republican agenda. He must be replaced!

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    So KISS, driving a Ferrari is moderate? What is extreme, then?

    Doesn't the existence of a pitifully low minimum wage argue for the creation of a maximum wage? Say anyone who makes more than 100 times the minimum wage has the excess taxed at 100%.

    I know, I know. It's socialistic, communistic, never would pass, the bastards would figure out ways to get around it, blah blah blah. But it would provide some kind of justice and maybe an incentive to increase the minimum wage.

  • (Show?)

    Although this post has failed to stir up much controversy, I do think we need to watch Smith closely over the next couple years. He's skated on the moderate votes he's cast, but as in this case, many were essentially window-dressing. It's when legislation is on the line that Smith's record matters.

  • (Show?)

    Here's the crazy thing. Republicans almost always argue that a higher minimum wage makes businesses less competitive.

    If that's what Gordon Smith believes - then he should support a higher federal minimum wage. It won't impact Oregon businesses at all (since ours is higher even than the proposed $7.25) but it would make Oregon businesses more competitive around the country.

    Gordon Smith: anti-business.

  • (Show?)

    Good point, Kari.

    I always feel sorry for wait staff in states with no state minimum wage-- they only make half of the federal minimum wage, or $2.575 an hour.

    <h2>When I worked at IHOP in the mid 90s, it was even lower than that-- $4.25 for minimum wage. It always pissed me off to watch people stiff the hardworking waiters and waitresses around me. I was lucky and was a hostess and actually made more than minimum wage.</h2>

connect with blueoregon