Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rep. King Says Barney Frank Should Oppose A Living Wage Requirement Because He's Gay

There has been some discussions about the potential for requiring contractors to pay their employees a living wage if they are doing business with the federal government. This policy would go a long ways towards helping to ensure that people who are willing to work hard are also able to support themselves. As the AP points out, the Economic Policy Institute “estimates that nearly 20 percent of the 2 million federal contract workers in the U. S. earn less than the poverty threshold wage of $9.91 per hour,” which goes to show just how little some contractors are paying their employees. While the CEO’s of some of these companies might not get as big of bonuses after having to pay a living wage, I strongly agree that having a policy that will keep these families out of poverty will help to strengthen the middle class.

Nonetheless, there are some Republicans who are against the policy. Rep. Steve King, for instance, spoke on the House floor on Tuesday and essentially argued that Barney Frank should oppose the policy because he’s gay.

Setting aside the fact that King has decided to launch a personal attack here instead of actually using his time to discuss policy related issues, there are a few things worth noting here. Perhaps the most obvious is that Barney Frank’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with why he supports a living wage. The same thing could be said about King's sexual orientation has nothing to do with why he opposes a living wage. King’s comments simply reek of someone who was hoping to attack Barney for being gay and somehow saw this as an opportunity to do so.

Although this should be obvious, it's also interesting that King doesn’t appear to grasp the key differences between the two situations he described. There is a clear difference standing up against discrimination, which is a noble cause and helps to strengthen our entire community, and allowing contractors to keep their workers living in poverty which has a negative impact on the entire community. King's attempt to make this connection, however, goes to show just how out of touch he is with what's going on outside of Washington.

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