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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s pitch to women in his State of the Union address Tuesday night was, without question, an opening shot in the 2014 contests. At a time when Republicans have struggled to build support among women, Obama’s pledge to do away with the workplace policies of the “Mad Men” era caught the attention of that key voter bloc and was a step toward shifting conversation away from his unpopular health care law.

The Democratic women of the U.S. Senate picked up that ball on Capitol Hill Thursday, echoing the president’s call to increase the minimum wage by arguing that it “disproportionately affects women” who make up two-thirds of the minimum-wage earners in the country.

“No one in America should have to live in poverty after putting in a full day’s work, and yet that is the case today,” said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who said the proposed increase from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour would lift the wages of 15 million women nationwide.

In a show of solidarity, Boxer and her fellow senators reminisced about their own experiences with earning minimum wage. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota recalled her time as a “car-hop” at the A&W, and Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono noted that her mother raised three children while working minimum wage jobs as a single parent: “I know what it’s like when your family runs out of money at the end of the month and how every dime matters.”

The legislation, known as the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, is expected to come to the Senate floor for debate in March, but it faces strong opposition in the House — where some Republicans have argued that the wage increase would lead to job losses across the country. A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that 73 percent of Americans favored the minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour, while 25 percent opposed it. A narrow majority of Republicans, 53 percent to 43 percent, favored the idea.

Still, because of the fractious politics in Congress, local and state initiatives to increase the minimum wage may move more quickly than federal legislation. Thirteen states are raising the minimum wage in 2014.

Even with those moves, Boxer noted Thursday that a number of states “are way ahead,” but “a lot of the states are way behind.”

“If the states want to do more — boy, I’d go door to door in California if I can help in certain communities,” Boxer said. “But it doesn’t take away from what we have to do here, which is set the floor.”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

  • leadvillexp

    Increasing the the minimum wage won’t fix the problem of low wage earners. You can increase the minimum wage by government decree but the companies of the rich that hire minimum wage earners won’t eat it. They will pass it on to all people that use their products or services including the minimum wage earners. So the person that is slightly above minimum or middle class dosen’t get a raise but the minimum worker does. They are now equal and the cost goes up for both. Now you have two minimum wage earners. Government raising minimum wage is a way to get rid of the middle class and make a world with poor and rich. If you keep the poor really poor they will serve as they need to eat and survive. Middle class people have hope to become rich, poor just survive. It is feel good legislation that looks good on paper but not in the real world. Down through history the rich keep getting richer, the middle class goes, the poor serve until they have had enough and then revolution. Then it starts all over again.

  • 4sanity4all

    Historically, raising the minimum wage puts more money into the economy, because people who work for minimum wage spend everything they earn. The extra money going into local economies than creates more jobs, because increased spending equals more demand for goods and services. In countries where there is a Living Wage law, all workers make a basic amount at least; some make more. But because everyone makes the generous Living Wage, those countries do not have welfare and food stamp programs. Speaking as a senior citizen who was able to earn enough to save and plan for my future, I would not mind paying a bit more for my goods and services if that money went to support a higher wage for the workers. Our economy will never improve until working people are paid enough to buy some extras and purchase homes again.