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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Shame on me and Patrick McHenry

In a Friday post, I fell for a Washington Times article that I will not dignify by linking again. In my opinion, a few House GOP members (particularly Rep. Patrick McHenry) are dishonestly making the claim that Pelosi's minimum wage bill is somehow providing preferential treatment for a manufacturer in her district that has facilities in American Samoa. According to Sean Braisted and Hill News (below), this is absolutely false:

Efforts to bring the U.S. territory in the Northern Mariana islands under federal minimum wage law is creating political headaches for House Democrats because the U.S. has long held American Samoa to a different wage standard.

House Republicans are making plenty of political hay over the disparity between the two territories’ wage policies, lambasting Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) for "exempting" American Samoa from their minimum wage bill and claiming that they’re being motivated by the fact that Del Monte’s headquarters are located in Pelosi’s district. Del Monte owns StarKist Tuna, which owns one of two packing plants in Samoa that together employ a large portion of the islands workers.

But the disparity between American Samoa and the Northern Mariana islands’ wage policies is nothing new, and the Democrats’ minimum wage bill does not mention American Samoa in any way.

While the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) has been exempt from any federal minimum wage standards – an exemption that former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff worked for years to protect – Samoa has operated under federal minimum wage laws for years.

Samoa, however, has a federal wage review board in place that allows it to evaluate the effect incremental increases in its minimum wages would have on the territory’s economy. This wage review board, made up of representatives in Samoa’s business and public sector who are appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, has set Samoa’s wages and has managed to keep them well below the mainland U.S. minimum wage.

Or, as blogger dday put it more succinctly (bold added by me):

[I]t's important to note that the substance of the Republican argument, that the minimum wage bill specifically exempts American Samoa from federal minimum wage laws, is factually incorrect. American Samoa has ALREADY been exempt from those laws for some time, including for 12 years under a Republican majority. Currently wage floors in American Samoa are set by the US Department of Labor.

Mea culpa for calling out Pelosi for something she was not doing. Shame on those who tried to fool the public (and fooled me) by claiming she was trying to pull a fast one.


Lesley said...

Way to go. Most corrections (particularly those in the MSM) are buried, so this is very refreshing.

Rob Robinson said...

Thanks for the kind words, Lesley. I was disappointed when I realized I had missed what really happened. I definitely think it's important to own up when you make a mistake, even an accidental one.

You are very right about the MSM corrections. That has always disappointed me, too.