With that in mind – and with a passionate plea for Pennsylvanians to get out there and do the right thing – here’s the last installment of our feature on Dr. Chuck Pennacchio, a progressive populist who’s on today’s ballot as a Democratic Senate candidate. If you’re registered to vote in Pennsylvania and have not yet done so, get to it! Check out previous installments of our Pennacchio Issue of the Day. Read his Web site. Hear the audio of his debates against his (lesser) opponents. And then VOTE PENNACCHIO.
Today: Pennacchio on the Living Wage and on Making Every Vote Count. From Pennacchio for Senate:
On Living Wage:
In 1968, the federal minimum wage was 86% of the poverty level; today, it is just 64%. As a result, 1 in 5 American children lives in poverty. Last year, 1 in 10 Pennsylvania households experienced food insecurity. 1.38 million Pennsylvanians have no health insurance. The majority of these citizens work, or are part of working families. Their families are forced to rely on food stamps and public assistance to compensate for inadequate wages. When employers pay substandard wages they are, in effect, creating an unauthorized public subsidy for their businesses, and increasing pressure on limited public resources.
Business interests have predicted disaster every time the minimum wage was raised. It has never happened. Legislators’ wages are cost-adjusted; government benefits are cost-adjusted; CEO compensation is cost-adjusted. If it is not inflationary to cost adjust these wages, why is it inflationary to cost adjust minimum wage? The answer is, it isn’t. Studies show that where living wage ordinances have been enacted, affected prices either mirrored, or declined against national inflation rates.
Living Wages, More Jobs: A 2004 study by the Fiscal Policy Institute found no evidence of job loss or negative effect to small businesses from rises in minimum wage, and concluded that employment results were actually better in states that had minimum wage rates above the federal standard. Raising the minimum wage improves local economies. It increases the buying power of workers who spend in their communities, and removes them as a drag on the economy. Cost-adjusting minimum wage prevents cyclical increases in poverty as wages fall behind the cost of living, and consequently prevents damage to communities. That’s why 130 cities and counties across America have enacted living wage laws.
Other candidates have proposed marginal increases to the current minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, increases which will not even return wages to 1968 levels. Working families in Pennsylvania deserve far more. They deserve a living wage and I will fight to make it happen. I will go the distance to ensure that impoverished workers and their families have the same economic opportunity enjoyed by the 75% of Americans who receive a wage above the official poverty line of $19,300 for a family of four. I am the only candidate in this race to refuse corporate and special interest PAC dollars, so I’m the only one who is free to stand with working Americans, and those 130 cities and counties that have shown the way.
Read more about it here.
On Making Every Vote Count:
Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. We must act now to protect each citizen’s right to have his or her vote counted accurately. Since the fiasco of the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida many states have instituted electronic voting systems but without proper safeguards these new systems could be more flawed than those that they replaced. The 2004 presidential election in Ohio raised new concerns about the reliability and fairness of the electoral process. The integrity of our democracy can be protected only by setting strict standards and procedures to ensure that all votes are counted as intended by their voters.
To protect individual voting rights, every precinct should retain a paper record of each voter’s intent. The record should be on paper to guard against tampering. Paper records, while not foolproof, are significantly safer than electronic records, which can be easily and invisibly altered by error or fraud. To be sure that the voters’ intents are correctly recorded, each voter must have an opportunity to see the paper record and correct it if necessary before leaving the voting booth.
Routine random audits of precinct-level election results are also necessary to strengthen confidence that all votes are counted correctly. Immediately after the official election results have been reported, a fixed percentage (at least 5%) of the precincts in each county should hold hand recounts of the voter-verified paper records. In case of a discrepancy with machine counts, the official results shall reflect the hand count of the paper records.
In particular, I support passage of US Senate Bill 330. Further, I will introduce and push a U.S. Senate counterpart to U.S. House Resolution 550.
Read more about it here.
And read my interview with Chuck to hear his views on these and other issues.
The Pennsylvania primary is May 16. Between now and then, do all you can to support a true, people-focused progressive for the US Senate. And don’t miss the Pennacchio Issue of the Day tomorrow.