Saturday, June 26, 2010

What will be Brady’s third strike?

It will be interesting to see how Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady’s latest comments play out.

Brady decided to take a stance on the minimum wage, which varies from state to state and where Illinois is scheduled for another increase come Thursday – from $8 per hour to $8.25.

WHEN THAT OCCURS, the minimum hourly salary that can be paid to an employee in Illinois will match the rates of Connecticut and the District of Columbia, and will rank only behind Oregon ($8.40) and Washington ($8.55). In short, people working in Illinois will be doing well when it comes to compensation.

Yet Brady is the guy who put himself on the record as wanting to undo Illinois’ minimum wage. He wants us to be just like those people in all the states that surround Illinois – where the state minimum wage rate matches the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Does Brady really want to be the guy who gets blamed for people whose salaries are already pathetically low having to take a pay cut? Is he a guy who really thinks places like Georgia or Wyoming are more desirable than Illinois because those states have minimum wages of $5.15 per hour?

Maybe Brady thinks Puerto Rico is the ideal (because the commonwealth’s minimum wage is only $4.10).

A PART OF me cannot believe that the state senator from Bloomington can be so out of touch that he can think the promise of a pay cut is the way to encourage people to vote for him.

Then again, I’m sure that Brady has already written off the possibility of people who have to rely on jobs that pay minimum wage would actually consider voting for him. Perhaps he thinks he can discourage people who really do have to work for a living for little compensation from voting altogether.

Actually, I think I already know the way this issue will play out in coming months. Because in the initial news reports that told of Brady’s desire to mess with the minimum wage, it came out that the person who pushed for a significant increase in Illinois was now-impeached and indicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

He got the General Assembly to go along with the plan that calls for annual increases in Illinois’ minimum wage rate every July 1. That is why the current $8 hourly rate will increase on Thursday to $8.25.

IT WAS A popular move with the interests that care about people who work low-paying jobs because there aren’t many alternatives, although I’m sure the business interests that want to perceive the issue as one of cutting into their potential profit margin would be eager to see Illinois be reduced to the level of Indiana or Kentucky.

Which is why I’m sure Brady is going to go about screaming the name “Blagojevich!!!” over and over whenever this issue comes up in the future.

He’s going to want to take advantage of the public distaste for the man now on trial at the Dirksen Building by claiming that all he’s doing is repealing one of Blagojevich’s actions. Get people worked up enough to think “Blagojevich!!!” and perhaps they will overlook the fact that all he’s really doing is taking a whack at the salaries of people who often have to rely on every penny they can get in order to support themselves.

Perhaps I find this stance a little appalling because I have worked as a freelance writer, occasionally taking assignments that paid so little that – when one considers how much time I spent on them – they paid less than minimum wage.

NOW I KNOW Brady likely will be careful to bring this issue up only in situations where he is before sympathetic crowds – heavy on small business owners and where the hired help are non-existent.

But it is because of moments like this that I have not taken seriously the polls that claim Brady to be ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn when it comes to the Nov. 2 general election.

It’s not that I doubt that Quinn has his problems, or that the GOP faithful are so anxious for Election Day to come that they are determined to vote. By comparison, nearly a third of people who identify as Democrats in Illinois claim in these polls to be undecided.

Which means that if they do vote, they will wind up falling in line for Quinn, which would cut the Brady margin significantly enough to put the incumbent governor into the lead.

WHILE THERE IS a chance they may not care enough to want to vote, all it is going to take is a few more whacked out statements like wanting to cut the minimum wage at a time when people who have jobs are struggling to get them upset enough to want to vote against Brady.

Brady already is the guy who sponsored a bill to reinstate the now-illegal practice of using carbon monoxide gas chambers to euthanize pets, and now he’s the guy who wants to cut the salaries of lower-income people.

Which means the real question these days ought to be what loopy stance will Brady take on another issue – constituting his “third strike” that sends him back to the political bench against Quinn.


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