House Workforce Committee Goes Out With a Whimper, Not a Bang

The last hearing of the soon-to-be late, great Republican-controlled House Education and Workforce Committee of the 115th Congress was supposed to be held yesterday.    The subject: “Mandating a $15 Minimum Wage: Consequences for Workers and Small Businesses”. (Subtext: How a mandatory minimum wage will doom small businesses and starve their employees.)

Unfortunately for Republicans who oppose paying workers a living wage, the hearing was postponed. (Probably permanently, being as the 115th Congress draws to a close at the end of next week.)

This was going to be an important hearing. Not just because this was the final hearing that the Education and Workforce Committee, controlled by Republicans, would hold before it becomes the Education and Labor Committee, controlled by the Democrats. 

This was the only hearing the Republican majority has called to discuss the minimum wage since taking control of Congress in 2010.

This hearing was important because it was to be the only hearing the Republican majority has called to discuss the minimum wage since taking control of Congress in 2010.

You read that correctly. The Republicans in this committee have held 264 hearings over the last 8 years and zero have covered the minimum wage. 

So why would they cancel their only chance argue to hard working Americans that $7.25/hour is plenty of money.

Seems one of their witnesses got caught with his digital pants down.

San Diego State University economist Joseph Sabia was slated to testify yesterday on the potentially catastrophic effects of raising the minimum wage $15/hour. But at the last minute, according to Politico, Committee staff discovered Sabia’s anti-gay comments in his former blog “No Shades of Gray.” In one 2002 post, Sabia proposed that government “tax and regulate homosexual acts” through taxation of “gay nightclubs, websites, personal ads, sexual paraphernalia, and so forth.”

In another post that same year, titled “College Girls: Unpaid Whores,” Sabia argued that feminism “taught young women that equality is achieved by acting like promiscuous sluts.”

And then there was this:

“Come on, Sabia,” you say, “how are you going to enforce these taxes? Are you going to send government officials to peep into everyone’s bedroom?”

Eventually. But first we have to mount the assault on Big Gay (no, I am not talking about Rosie O’Donnell). We can tax gay nightclubs, websites, personal ads, sexual paraphernalia, and so forth. Talk about a sin tax!!! We can cripple gay-related industries and get them right where we want them. All gay clubs will have to feature huge, flashing warning signs like “CAUTION: Entering this nightclub may increase your chance of contracting STDs and dying.”

Now anyone can make a mistake. But as former President George W. Bush said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, can’t get fooled again.”

Well, it turns out you can get fooled again. This was not the first time Ed and Workforce Committee Republicans had to pull a witness at a hearing. In 2015, Republicans invited Brian Pannebecker, an hourly production worker at Ford, to testify at a Right-to-Work hearing.

Imagine their surprise when they discovered that Pannebecker had “posted a glowing Amazon review of David Duke’s My Awakening: A Path to Racial Understanding?” And he had written on his Facebook page that President Barack Obama was “a race hustler” who was “trying to benefit from racial tension and animosity.”

Committee Democrats were upset the hearing was cancelled. Workers had come to Washington to talk about why it’s time to raise the minimum wage. But despite the cancellation, the workers’ voices were heard:

Ed & Workforce Dems@edworkforcedems

Today, the Republican Majority cancelled the only hearing it has called on the minimum wage since taking control in 2010. Our Members still wanted to hear the stories of workers who traveled here to tell Congress that it’s time to .

The lesson here? Maybe teach your staff to use the Google. 

And don’t look to the White House personnel office for guidance on how to vet people.

So happy trails, Ed and Workforce. Until we meet again in the 116th Congress as Ed and Labor. Keep smiling until then.