The gap between the wealthy and poor has widened into a gulf, and it shows no signs of closing up anytime soon. The middle class as we know it is effectively gone, replaced by an elite few at the top and a huge pool at the bottom. For those who do struggle each day, they turn to their elected leaders for support, voting them in because they think senators will enact change on their behalf. However, as we’ll see, not all senators have the poor’s best interests at heart and sometimes go far the other way.
John Eichelberger, Pennsylvania: “That hodgepodge of special rules would be very problematic”
A piece of legislature that protected domestic abuse victims from being evicted if they called 911 too many times passed just fine in the House of Representatives, but was stalled when it reached the Senate. Why? Republicans attached another section that would have banned paid or unpaid leave legislation, disallowing cities and counties to give their employees time off if circumstances arose (which would include domestic abuse victims being able to have a bit of time off to recuperate).
At the heart of it is Eichelberger, who framed his disagreement under the concern of big government going too far into the state’s business. He agreed to speak to the Huffington Post about it, and essentially said his state was just fine the way it is and the bill would only add an “additional layer of bureaucracy on the leave issue."
Glenn Grothman, Wisconsin: “You could argue that money is more important for men”
The gender pay gap is a problem that’s been around as long as women have worked; for example, women were only allowed to work in the trades in 1787, and still don’t receive the same pay as their male counterparts across the board. In 2014, it would seem as though the country would have finally moved enough to close the gender pay gap, but lawmakers like Grothman stand firmly in the way.
It was only two years ago that Grothman mounted a successful charge to repeal equal pay revisions in Wisconsin, a piece of legislature that would have strongly reduced the pay gap between men and women. His defense? “I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious.” Remember, this quote came from him in 2012, not 1912.
Janea Holmquist Newbry, Washington State: “If [raising the minimum wage] is to help those in poverty…I think this will do the exact opposite”
To be fair, Washington has the highest minimum wage in the country at $9.32 an hour. To put things into perspective, that equates to a yearly salary of $19,385.60 — barely enough to cover rent, groceries, expenses and the high sales tax in the state.
Raising the minimum wage would be one way to balance the wealth in the state not by taking money away from the rich, but by giving the poor a chance to chase the American dream. But if Senator Newbry gets her way, she’ll keep the minimum wage the way it is, all in the name of safeguarding business owners from having to hire fewer employees (which, from reading between the lines, seems like a thinly-veiled way of saying she wants to keep the poor, working-class big and in low-paying jobs).
These three senators are only a few from a big pool of those who don't do nearly enough to help the poor, but listing them all and the various ways in which they've gone out of their way to keep the poor poor would take much more than one article. If we've missed a senator who's outdone him or herself compared to the ones included, let us know in the comments below.