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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at an event in Detroit, Mich., Feb. 4, 2015. (Photo by Paul Sancya/AP)

Jeb Bush makes the case against the federal minimum wage

03/18/15 08:40AM

For decades, the political debate surrounding the federal minimum wage has had fairly narrow parameters: the discussion was limited to those who wanted to increase the wage and those who wanted to keep it at current levels.
But as Republican politics moved to the right, a new contingent emerged: GOP lawmakers who believe federal minimum wage should be lowered from $7.25 to $0.
The far-right position is more common among congressional Republicans, but lately we've seen a growing number of GOP presidential hopefuls make the same argument -- former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), for example, have both said they're comfortable with eliminating the federal minimum wage altogether.
Yesterday in South Carolina, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) appeared to endorse the same approach.
"We need to leave it to the private sector. I think state minimum wages are fine. The federal government shouldn't be doing this. This is one of those poll-driven deals. It polls well, I'm sure -- I haven't looked at the polling, but I'm sure on the surface without any conversation, without any digging into it people say, 'Yea, everybody's wages should be up.' And in the case of Wal-Mart they have raised wages because of supply and demand and that's good.
"But the federal government doing this will make it harder and harder for the first rung of the ladder to be reached, particularly for young people, particularly for people that have less education."
The likely Republican candidate insisted a higher minimum wage would hurt workers at the bottom of the income scale. "Politically, I'm sure it's a great soundbite," Bush concluded. "But from an economic point of view this is not how we need to be successful."
Taken at face value, Jeb's comments weren't just expressing opposition to a minimum-wage increase, such as the one supported by President Obama, congressional Democrats, and most Americans. Rather, Bush seemed to be making an explicit case for eliminating the federal minimum wage altogether.
A man jogs past the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2013.

The GOP and their 'magic asterisks'

03/18/15 08:00AM

In 1981, the newly inaugurated Reagan administration presented Congress with a budget plan filled with an odd little trick that came to be known as the "magic asterisk." The technique, as Michael Kinsley explained a few decades ago, "consisted of hiding phony cuts in the small print of various budget documents in order to exaggerate the Administration's success in spending reduction and to minimize the projected deficit."
In effect, the "magic asterisk" represented illusory spending cuts that the Reagan White House promised to figure out later. The new Republican administration didn't want to come right out and say, "We can't figure out how to make our numbers add up," so they used the asterisks as placeholders.
At the time, some Republicans in Congress weren't quite sold on the idea, so Reagan's aides asked allies in the media to attack them. It worked -- GOP lawmakers "beat a tactical retreat" and gave in to Reagan's bogus budget games. The result was some of the largest deficits in American history, even after Reagan had promised the country the opposite.
A generation later, congressional Republicans aren't questioning the trick; they're embracing it. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) took a look at the new House GOP budget blueprint and told the Washington Post, "They have a magic asterisk."
Hoyer was apparently not referring to an actual asterisk, but to a row of figures with the innocuous label "Other Mandatory" in one of several tables at the back of the document. The numbers show that Republicans are planning to save $1.1 trillion over 10 years by reducing outlays for mandatory spending other than on health care and Social Security, a drastic reduction for that category as compared to current policy.
It was not immediately clear where the savings would come from, but they're necessary in order for the budget to balance within a decade, as Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said it would.
House Republicans started with a vision: increase defense spending while balancing the budget within 10 years, without raising any taxes on anyone. The problem, as Reagan and his aides discovered in the 1980s, is that this really can't be done without "magic."

Execution in Missouri and other headlines

03/18/15 07:36AM

The state of Missouri executes inmate who was missing part of his brain. (NBC News)

Netanyahu's party wins in Israel. (New York Times)

Loretta Lynch isn't the only Obama nominee waiting for confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate. (Huffington Post)

Pres. Obama heads to Cleveland today to pitch economic recovery. (Washington Post)

The aide Scott Walker hired on Monday quit on Tuesday. (AP)

Donald Trump is leaving television and launching a presidential exploratory committee. (New Hampshire Union Leader)

The Presybterian Church gives final approval to gay marriage. (USA Today)

Boston museum marks 25 years since infamous art theft. (AP)

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Chemical lobbyist caught drafting new law

Chemical lobbyist caught drafting new law

03/17/15 09:41PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the discovery that a draft of a new law to make much-needed updates to regulations on the chemical industry was authored by the American Chemistry Council, the leading trade organization and lobbyist for the chemical industry. watch

Syria claims credit for downed US drone

Syria claims credit for downed US drone

03/17/15 09:29PM

Col. Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst, talks with Rachel Maddow about Syrian claims that they have shot down an American predator drone, and, depending on what details are ultimately confirmed, what the downing of a drone would mean for US strategy for watch

Ahead on the 3/17/15 Maddow show

03/17/15 07:23PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times Washington bureau chief
  • Col. Jack Jacobs, MSNBC military analyst and medal of honor recipient
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D) California

Check out a preview of tonight's show after the jump

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Tuesday's Mini-Report, 3.17.15

03/17/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Israeli elections: "Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is running neck-and-neck with opposition leader Isaac Herzog in Tuesday's national elections, according to exit polls released by the country's major television stations."
* Netanyahu, it's worth noting, has already declared victory.
* Unconfirmed report out of Syria: "Syria's state news agency says the country's air defense forces have shot down a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft.... The pilotless surveillance drone was shot down close to the border of Turkey in Ibn Hani district, a source told CBS News."
* The previously bipartisan human-trafficking bill is stuck: "On Tuesday, a measure that would create a victims' fund, using fines collected from perpetrators of sex trafficking, failed to clear a procedural hurdle, leaving a bill that once had majority support in Congress in limbo."
* More on this on tonight's show: "Lawmakers from both parties lashed out at the newly appointed director of the Secret Service on Tuesday, accusing him of doing little to restore the public's faith in an agency jolted by embarrassing scandals and security breaches."
* ISIS: "A former U.S. Air Force mechanic has been charged with attempting to go to Syria to join ISIS, authorities said Tuesday. Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was indicted Monday by a grand jury in Brooklyn on two charges, including attempting to provide material support to a terror organization."
* Yemen: "The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials."

* Afghanistan: "The Obama administration is abandoning plans to cut the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 5,500 by year's end, bowing to military leaders who want to keep more troops there, including many into the 2016 fighting season, U.S. officials say."
Former US Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 15, 2013.

Santorum on Bibles in schools: 'Yes we can'

03/17/15 04:57PM

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) is giving every indication that he's planning another presidential campaign, and over the weekend at a religious right rally, he gave a hint of the kind of national platform he'll pursue.
"Why are Bibles no longer in public schools? Don't give me the Supreme Court. The reason Bibles are no longer in the public schools is because we let them take them out of the public schools."
He added a variation on President Obama's campaign chant: "You say, 'Well we can't get them back in.' Yes we can. Yes we can!"
"How much are you willing to sacrifice?" the Republican continued. "One person got the Bibles out of the schools. We have more than one person here! But you've got to have the same passion in preserving our country as they do to transform it."
Santorum, who actually went to law school and served as a federal lawmaker for 16 years, is apparently a little confused. He made repeated references to a troublesome "they" -- it was "they" who made public schools secular; "they" are trying to transform the country -- but his condemnations are at odds with certain basic facts.
Aaron Schock, two members of congress find way to fight partisan gridlock - Sophie Kleeman - 09/18/2013

Facing scandals, Illinois GOP congressman resigns

03/17/15 03:01PM

The new Congress started a little over two months ago. As of this afternoon, this Congress already features two House Republicans resigning. The first was Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who resigned in January, and the second is Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) who announced his departure today.
Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock resigned Tuesday, less than 12 hours after POLITICO raised questions about tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements he received for his personal vehicle.
Schock billed the federal government and his campaign for logging roughly 170,000 miles on his personal car between January 2010 and July 2014. But when he sold that Chevrolet Tahoe in July 2014, it had only roughly 80,000 miles on the odometer, according to public records obtained by POLITICO under Illinois open records laws. The documents, in other words, indicate he was reimbursed for 90,000 miles more than his car was ever driven.
It's hard to know whether this one controversy pushed the Illinois Republican over the edge. It's just as likely Schock suffered from a cumulative effect -- the congressman's troubles began in earnest six weeks ago with the story about his office's "Downton Abbey" décor, but it's been followed by a series of related controversies involving Schock using funds inappropriately.
The GOP lawmaker's resignation letter says his departure is effective March 31. Schock does not acknowledge wrongdoing, but he said "the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself."
Schock is one of Congress' youngest members and he's been a very public face for his party -- at times even becoming a literal cover model -- hoping to present Republicans in a more youthful light. His career, however, now appears to be over.
Surrounded by bodyguards, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to the Likud faction meeting at the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) on Dec. 3, 2014 in Jerusalem. (Photo by Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty)

Israeli PM Netanyahu feels the heat on Election Day

03/17/15 12:48PM

As of a few months ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expected to win another term with relative ease. But as the polls pointed to a much closer race, and Netanyahu's position became far less secure, the prime minister started to succumb to degrees of political panic.
Indeed, today is Election Day in Israeli, and Netanyahu appears to be losing his cool a bit.
"The right-wing government is in danger," Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post. "Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out." [...]
Some 20 percent of eligible voters in Israel are Palestinians, also referred to as Israeli Arabs.
As the Washington Post's report noted, many Palestinians have chosen not to participate in national elections in recent years in order to protest Israeli policies the West Bank and Gaza. This year, however, "a coalition of Arab parties opted to run on a joint ticket."
And though Netanyahu's social-media message was no doubt intended to motivate the Israeli right, there's some anecdotal evidence that the prime minister may also be creating a backlash. BuzzFeed talked to a Palestinian woman named Nour Aslan who was on the fence about whether to vote today -- right up until she saw Netanyahu's controversial rhetoric.
 "This is an outrage. It is embarrassing. Are we not citizens of Israel? Do we not deserve to vote?" Aslan said, adding that the prime minister's message left her "shaking with anger. "
All of this, of course, comes on the heels of Netanyahu's announcement yesterday that he will block a two-state solution if re-elected -- a desperate move that puts him at odds with both his previous position and with the bipartisan U.S. position that currently stands as American foreign policy.
Jeffrey Goldberg noted this morning that if Netanyahu somehow manages to hang on, it's "unlikely" the prime minister will be able to "walk back the things he's said and done over the past two days."


About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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