The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Raising The Minimum Wage Is Not Controversial — Except On Capitol Hill

While most of the political class fixates on the botched Affordable Care Act rollout, Congress is gearing up for a vote on raising the minimum wage. There is almost no chance this Congress will pass this bill, but it’s important that Democrats – and others who care about safeguarding the opportunity to earn a living wage in America – call attention to the inequality that increasingly characterizes the nation, and has been institutionalized by a conservative political agenda.

In 2010, Democracy Corps launched the Economy Project: Our ongoing and in-depth study of how middle-class and working people adapt to the economy, and how progressives should address it on their terms.

What we have learned is that while people generally sense a macro recovery, and even notice job growth, they also feel that the jobs that are being created do not pay a living wage:

minimum wage quotes

 

And they are right. In real dollars, the minimum wage was actually higher 40 years ago than it is today.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum wage was $1.60 in 1968. Had it kept up with inflation, it would be $10.74 today. Instead, it’s stagnant at $7.25 an hour. Working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, a minimum-wage employee can expect to earn $15,080 — below the federal poverty level for a family of two.  This is not enough to live on, anywhere in the country.

We know that this is a crucial issue — not just one of fairness and opportunity, but of common sense and national economic stability.

When we looked at the national response to President Obama’s last State of the Union address, we found tremendous support for raising the minimum wage. When the president urged Congress to take up this issue and pass a living wage bill, the response was overwhelmingly favorable among all but Republicans.

minimum wage levels

Click here to watch the video.

This is simply not a controversial issue. In its November 11 survey, Gallup found that three-quarters of Americans are in favor of raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour — including majorities of Republicans (58 percent), Independents (76 percent), and Democrats (91 percent).

Meanwhile, 19 states — 12 of which are wholly controlled by Democrats — have a minimum wage higher than the national rate. Of the nine states with a minimum wage lower than the federal rate, or without any state minimum, all but one are wholly GOP-controlled. Despite overwhelming national support for setting a higher minimum, Congress has voted to raise it only three times in the last 30 years. And this Republican-controlled Congress is unlikely to break the trend.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Youtube Screenshot

In late 2011, John Oliver and his Daily Show cameraman made a trek to my office, then in Providence, Rhode Island, to take me to task. I had recently referred to the Tea Partiers who had pushed America to the brink of a disastrous default as "economic terrorists."

Oliver had apparently swallowed whole a series of barbs directed my way by a Wall Street Journal blogger who didn't seem to like women much. The blogger kept calling me the "Civility diva" and a "Baroness Catherine Ashton lookalike." (A member of the British parliament, Ashton was said to be homely.) He was quite the wit.

Keep reading...Show less

Donald Trump and Mike Pence

Youtube Screenshot

Several mainstream media outlets are manufacturing a political narrative that the discovery of classified documents at the homes of both President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence should alleviate pressure on disgraced former President Donald Trump, who not only took a vast trove of federal records but also refused to give them back.

Biden and Pence have both cooperated with federal investigators to recover and return documents that belong to the government, and both situations have rekindled scrutiny at the overall system of federal document classification and retention, which appears to be in serious need of reform. Their two examples stand in stark contrast to Trump’s behavior, and possible misconduct, regarding his own handling of government records.

Keep reading...Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}