**On January 1 of this year, the California minimum wage increased to $7.50, which could also have affected the chain's decision. ...
***--If growth is really going on at the bottom but not the middle, it won't show up in Drum's "median" statistic, of course. (There will still be the same number of low-earners making under the median wage. They'll just be richer low-earners,) You'd want to look at something like the median wage in the bottom quartile (which seems to do only a little better than the median in this handy chart generator). ...1:42 A.M. link
Saturday, March 31, 2007
1. Lowry says "only one writer" on NR is currently supporting McCain, Ramesh Ponnuru. That's who I was talking about! It's Ponnuru who took it upon himself to explicate and defend NR's McCain editorial at length. I suspected the editorial in fact reflected his views. Was I wrong?
2. I did go overboard in suggesting that National Review as a wholesupports McCain over other Republican contenders. I accept Lowry's correction that the magazine doesn't "have a candidate yet." That doesn't affect the substance of the argument, which is whether NR's advice to McCain--that he embrace the "compromise" immigration plan being pushed by Sen. Johnny Isakson--was in fact a "constructive' advice for opponents of "comprehensive" reform to give. Is it better, or worse, if NR endangered one of its most important causes to help a candidate it doesn't even necessarily want to win?
3.The Isakson plan sets in place--in law--an eventual amnesty, once certain "benchmarks" relating to border security and employment are met. If you worry about amnesty, as I do and I assumeNRdoes, it seems not even a close question whether no bill is better than Isakson. As Mark Krikorian notes, Isakson's plan would legitimize amnesty, undermine enforcement, and create pressure for a future fudging of the benchmarks to allow an amnesty whether or not border protections, etc., work. A legislative impasse would be far preferable.** It would constitute a loud, deflating rebuff to amnesty supporters while it let enforcement measures continue. (How refusing to concede the amnesty issue makes enforcement "an impossible ideal" is beyond me.)
4.I've no doubt that, as Lowry says, if McCain moved from his current position to Isakson it would shift the center of gravity in the Senate "to the right". But that would not necesarily be a "welcome development." It's not a welcome development, for example, if it means the Isakson plan actually gets passed! Lowry is sophisticated enough to know that, even if the Senate is all that matters, you can't decide legislative strategy on the basis of whether the debate moves "left" or "right" on a two-dimensional scale. What matters is what gets the votes needed to become law.
5. But the action is not confined to the Senate, or Congress, or Washington. Unlike welfare reform--where popular opinion had consistently and overwhelmingly opposed the old AFDC cash-without-work program--there's an actual competitive national debate going on about what to do about immigration. It's obviously important who wins this debate--more important than the current array of positions in the Senate. If the public comes down on one side or the other, the politicians, including most Senators, will follow.
6. In this wider debate, any positive effect of McCain moving to the right is more than counterbalanced by the negative effect of National Review moving to the left, which it has done by saying approving things about the Isakson plan (which entails legitimizing and accepting the official amnesty it endorses).
7. In the mid-90s welfare debate, Bill Clinton was a genuine believer in reform. Lowry is just wrong to assert that Clinton's stillborn reform plan didn't "back up" his pledge to "end welfare as we know it." Clinton's plan, once he finally unveiled it, was a radical plan for a Republican, let alone a Democrat. If I remember, it basically cut even single mothers off welfare after three years, with only a bit of fudging. True, it didn't end the welfare "entitlement," but in other respects it was tougher than many plans still in place under Republican governors today. The Isakson plan seems less like Clinton's welfare plan, in this respect, and more like one of the compromises that Congressional Democrats would have proposed as a way to preserve the right to unlimited welfare as long as certain benchmarks are met--except that instead of preserving an open-ended welfare program, Isakson preserves the idea of writing some amnesty into law (with all the ill effects Krikorian describes).