Who Do Republicans Listen To?


The lovely folks at the Princeton University Press sent me a copy of the 2nd edition of Larry Bartels’ Unequal Democracy today. “Completely revised and updated,” they promise. I haven’t read it yet, of course, but I figured I’d browse through all the charts and find something interesting to post. Here’s one:

When Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, one of their first initiatives was a bill to raise the minimum wage, which had been eroding downward for more than a decade. Republicans refused to support an increase unless it was paired with a tax break for small businesses, and they made this stick by filibustering the bill.

This is despite the fact that literally everyone supported raising the minimum wage except for one tiny group: well-off Republicans, who were slightly opposed. Nevertheless, this tiny group controlled the entire process, with Republicans doing their bidding even though 70 percent of their own party wanted the minimum wage to go up. In the end, small businesses got their tax break and the bill passed. It was the only way to get Republican legislators to pay attention to the will of literally the entire country except for rich Republicans.