Politics

Democrats Appoint Anti-Minimum-Wage Advocate to Finance Committee

On delivering the absolute minimum

Politics Features Tom Perez
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Democrats Appoint Anti-Minimum-Wage Advocate to Finance Committee

Various sources have reported that Tom Perez, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, has appointed Atlanta native Dan Halpern to the finance committee of the party.

Specifically, he will be part of a squad of deputy national finance chairs. As the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports:

Halpern chaired Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s mayoral campaign in 2009 and served as a trustee for then-President-elect Barack Obama’s 2008 inaugural committee. Halpern also is immediate past chairman of the Atlanta Housing Authority Board of Directors and a past chairman of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

In a party that says it’s trying to be progressive, Halpern is a strange direction. As the head of Jackmont Hospitality and the GRA, Halpern has reliably opposed the minimum wage. His record thus far suggests a hostility towards the kind of worker-friendly policies that the Bernie-era Dems are supposedly pursuing. It suggests Perez, and Perez’s backers and friends, have not gotten the memo about economic justice.

In Halpern’s home state of Georgia, according to Politifact “Senate Bill 314 called for raising Georgia’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but it didn’t get so much as a hearing.”

Why? Halpern’s people—the Georgia Restaurant Association—claimed that there would be a potential loss of 21,000 jobs, ignoring the increased possibility for consumer spending, for new jobs, for giving hungry people a hand up. Everything must benefit the boardroom, you see, or it’s not worth doing. As Politifact helpfully reminds us, “Georgia’s minimum wage is technically $5.15 an hour (Georgia Code 34-4-3) and has been since 2001. But the vast majority of Georgia employers (some say more than 99 percent) must comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which means they have to pay their employees the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.” If given god-like sway over the business, Halpern and his GRA would probably prefer to keep this amount even lower.

Hardly surprising. When a guy is described by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as a “Georgia Democratic moneyman,” it’s safe bet he couldn’t give two hoots in hell for a single mother making minimum wage at McDonald’s.

If you’ve got a sec and a yearning for self-inflicted pain, browse over to Jackmont’s site. Take a gander at the page they keep up for Halpern. His bio is full of the weirdly specific praise beloved in the executive suite. Dan’s favorite food is Paella. And like me, his alias is “Coach Dad.” Well, that’s not my nickname, but Halpern apparently means it seriously. He drinks bourbon, small batch.

“He’s not just the guy who signs the checks and seals the deals. CEO and Co-founder Daniel Halpern is the head, hands, and heart behind Jackmont Hospitality.

Can you imagine what it must be like to sit next to this guy on a transatlantic flight, yammering about his incredible resume? I bet if the plane lost all engine power and the whole blessed lot of passengers went spiralling down to watery death, Halpern would keep delivering a monologue in the third person.

... Not surprisingly, Daniel isn’t new to foodservice management. Not to drop names, but before Jackmont Hospitality, he worked for Holiday Inn Worldwide. He also has a degree from the School of Hotel Administration from a little place called Cornell University.

“A little place.” Christ. Hey Dan, ever worked a busy lunch shift? I sure as hell have.

And apparently, Daniel’s reputation precedes him, which is why Johnson and Wales University bestowed upon him an honorary degree in Business Administration in Foodservice Management. Ever the over-achiever, Daniel also earned the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) designation ... Like most foodservice celebrities, Daniel has published widely and lectured around the world on industry-related topics. ... Daniel, Renaissance man that he is, has advised many of the top political leaders of his time …

This is like reading the dating personals at the back of an Ivy League magazine. Renaissance man … over-achiever … reputation precedes him …. Best of all, foodservice celebrity. I can’t get over that. That’s how I plan to refer to myself in the future, whenever restaurants kick me out for demanding more of them spicy lobster rolls.

This is Perez’s idea of a swell guy to raise money for the new, Post-Hillary Democratic party. Coach Dad, who desperately needs your approval, and occasionally your money.

Tom. Dan. The Clinton era is over. The time when you could get away with playing both sides of the field is done. No more claiming to be for marginalized people, and then cheating them of a decent life. No more.

The Chronicle again:

“This team has a proven track record and decades of combined experience raising the resources to elect Democrats up and down the ballot,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said. “They played a key role in sending President Obama to the Oval Office, and they’ll help ensure that we continue to elect Democrats in 2017, 2018 and beyond.”

The contested DNC leadership election was in February. The Bernie wing wanted the leadership position bad. The Corporate Dems kept saying that the Chair position didn’t matter. Why, the centrists asked, are you Berniecrats contesting it at all? It was a suspicious denial.

Especially since the Corporate Democrats ended up going after the chairmanship just as hard as the Bernie wing did. Now we see the results of such an election: the Halperns of the party are still free to play the field. Is this the future of the Democratic Party that Tom Perez had in mind? I’m honestly surprised Perez’s man doesn’t support a mandatory minimum—since that’s all Perez and his centrists are willing to give.

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