Mitch Perry Report 1.27.14 - Please tip your waiters tonight

A happy (if dank) Monday to you all today.

The big national political news this week is President Obama's annual State of the State Address, which, let's face it, never lives up to the hype. I mean, everyone covers these annual speeches and there will be more Republicans than ever holding their own official reactions to it, but how excited will you be to hear a speech described by New York Senator Chuck Schumer as being a "very practical agenda aimed at middle class people"?

The president will talk about immigration and raising the minimum wage, something he did a year ago. Last year he called for the $7.25 rate to be increased to $9. This year he'll ask that it be raised to $10.10. The odds that the GOP-led House would pass that remain low as of this morning - forget about the call by some Senate Democrats to raise the sub-minimum wage for tipped employees as well, which federally remains at a shocking $2.13 an hour.

That rate has not changed since 1991, thanks to the political heft of the NRA (the National Restaurant Association). According to the New York Times, taking inflation into account, the $2.13 enacted back then is worth $1.24 today.

I guess I always knew the wage that waiters and bar staff make is below the minimum wage, but frankly I never thought much about it until I wrote about it in the current CL. And it's changed my attitude about tipping, especially for high quality service. I've always liked to think I've been a decent tipper (between 15-20 percent), but now it's almost a moral service to tip more. Restaurant owners say they'll have to raise prices or fire employees if they have to pay such a wage. Until the political will is there, that's not going to change. So maybe the rest of us can dig a bit deeper to help out those working for this lowly rate? Maybe you don't feel like it - it's your prerogative. But it's very difficult for me not to spend more now, now that I'm aware of this unfair system.

As we roll into the 2014 political season, could we see some changes happening up in Tallahassee? One big change would be to see the Legislature pass something that could be considered progressive, but that's what House Speaker Will Weatherford is calling for with his pledge to support in-state tuition for immigrant students in Florida's colleges and universities.

Meanwhile Senator Rand Paul will be one of those Republicans offering up their own take on the president's SOTU tomorrow night. Yesterday while appearing on NBC's Meet The Press, Paul was asked about a quote his wife made regarding Bill Clinton's incident with Monica Lewinsky recently. It allowed him to then lash out at the Democrats charge that the GOP has a "war on women," saying Democrats should look at themselves and their behavior in supporting the former commander in chief during his moment of crises in 1998.

And if you watched just a few minutes of the Sunday show's yesterday, you were inundated with Alex Sink's new ad attacking David Jolly for his lobbying past. We'll have more on that by the way in an upcoming post.

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