Congressman Earl Pomeroy, our lone voice of in the House of Representatives, fancies himself as a “progressive.” He touts himself as a “fighter for North Dakota.” I know Real Progressives. Each and every one of them is in favor of boosting the wages of Working North Dakotans.
Last Friday night (July 28th) the House voted on the “Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act.” The Republican Majority had decided to attach an increase to the Minimum Wage as a way to ease the Estate Tax cut through Congress. With no help from our representative, the bill passed (230-180) to pave the way to a three-year implementation of a $7.25 minimum wage; the first increase since 1997. While our representative’s vote would not have changed the outcome, it does give us a great glimpse into his motivations.
He could have easily voted in favor for this bill just as his colleague Colin Peterson just over the river in Minnesota did and not faced retribution within his party. The Republicans had the votes already so it was like a freebee. But our representative did not do that. Instead, he chose to vote the party line because he thinks his seat is safe.
He chose to vote in favor of the type of class-warfare the Estate Tax is about. With his vote, he told every North Dakotan earning the minimum wage “I would rather stick it to a handful of wealth taxpayers than give you a raise.”
Our representative believes that we as North Dakotans will look past the fact that of his $1.2 million war-chest, a mere $39,000 was raised here in North Dakota (source: OpenSecrets.org).
North Dakotans may look past that, but we will not look passed the fact that he fell for a Republican rouse – hook, line, and sinker. We must now question whether after 14 years in office, “does he know how that game is played yet?”
Our representative’s competition, Matt Mechtel, may not have name recognition. He may not have $912,000 from out-of-state PACs. But he has the common decency to give hardworking North Dakotans at the bottom of the wage scale a raise, while also allowing people’s heirs to keep more of their loved one’s hard earned money. He has the common sense to realize that when the Republican Party of all things is advocating such a steep increase in the minimum wage, maybe this time it’s ok to break from the traditional party line.