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

Carville-Greenberg

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

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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.

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54 Comments

  1. BBWeekly November 25, 2013

    This is what I sometimes call a “cavalry rear guard” issue for Republicans. We don’t really oppose a higher minimum wage, but we might as well push back for as long as we can while we retreat on the issue. To the extent that we force Democrats to fight like crazy for this, they use up political money and oxygen on issues that aren’t threatening so they have far less time to push the agenda in areas that would be far more objectionable (such as tax increases or gun control laws). Yes the army is retreating, but the cavalry is covering the retreat and the snipers are picking off a few pursuing Democrats along the way.

    Reply
    1. moelarryandjesus November 25, 2013

      In other words you’re evil bastards.

      What else is new?

      1. Elliot J. Stamler November 26, 2013

        Nothing…suffering is a word that does not resonate with Republicans.

        1. Dominick Vila November 26, 2013

          There is a lot of truth behind what BB said, and we will be well advised to remain focused and not be distracted with issues that enjoy bi-partisan and popular support.
          The same goes for all the so-called “scandals”. They are engineered distractions designed to derail our agenda and ability to govern.

    2. kingartie1 November 26, 2013

      We can’t help but notice your glib reference to shooting guns and killing “a few pursuing Democrats.” Well, whatever shortages you may have, moronic metaphors is not one of them. And your implication that “their” agenda on raising the minimum wage is more objectionable than taxes and gun control graphically illustrates how toxic, twisted and f’d up is the Republican’t mind set. Your stated rationalization that you are doing us all a favor by “retreating on the issue” is the product of a sort of virus that the more centrist and fair-minded voting public will remember; with such assertions you all but guarantee eventual tax increases and gun controls because 1) by such statements your party proves itself to be completely untrustworthy and 2) because of 1, you will not have a majority to prevent tax increases and gun control from eventually being a fact of your miserable and pathetic lives.

  2. Victor Sindoni November 25, 2013

    You are right on target a raise in the minimum salaries is so necessary.
    While on the subject of salaries, They need to put a cap on C E O`S WAGES.
    SOME C E O`S MAKE 30 MILLION PER YEAR..WHAT A DISGRACE …

    Reply
    1. itsfun November 26, 2013

      CEO’s make a ridiculous amount of money, but the government can’t start telling private companies how much they can pay their employees. Then we would eventually have the government setting a pay scale for every working person in the country. There is a name for that form of government.

      1. stcroixcarp November 26, 2013

        You are correct, but the government can tax excess salaries to gain needed revenue, reduce the budget deficit, pay down the national debt, bolster social security and medicare, restore the cuts to food stamps, fund heath care, etc,,,, All that aside, the minimum wage needs to be raised.

        1. itsfun November 26, 2013

          Who gets to decide what is an excessive salary? I don’t think we can tax ourselves into prosperity. We could try to spend less. Medicare cuts were caused by obamacare. Take food stamps out of the farm bill, and put them where they belong. Taxing people more is not the answer.

          1. ralphkr November 26, 2013

            And just what is the name for that type of government, itsfun? Oh, I just remembered, that would be the government of the USA during WW2 when both wages and prices were set by the government.

          2. itsfun November 27, 2013

            Gee: I didn’t realize we are in another world war. Who did the Congress declare war on?

          3. ralphkr November 27, 2013

            Wake up and pay attention, itsfun. You asked what is the name for the type of government that sets the pay scale for every working person and I answered your question by telling you that was OUR government during WW2. Of course, all prices were also set by the government and we had to use our ration stamps to even be allowed to buy most things. I am sure that there must have been some things we could buy without using our stamps but I no longer recall what they were.

          4. itsfun November 27, 2013

            Come on Ralph. You are talking about emergency provisions used because of and only because of our nation being in a war with Germany and Japan. I don’t know of any wars that have been declared lately. You are one to wake up and pay attention to what point one is trying to make. Have a happy Thanksgiving holiday.

          5. ralphkr November 27, 2013

            Gee, itsfun, perhaps you should go back to school and retake your English classes since you obviously are having a hard time understanding written English. I was going to suggest your English as a second language classes but then I realized that people for whom English is their second language have a far better understanding of the written word than you have.

            By the way, many of those rationing restrictions were NOT emergency measures because of the war but propaganda measures to bring home to the general populace that we were at war. As if nearly every family having someone in the military did not remind us.

          6. itsfun November 28, 2013

            You are just a wonderful person Ralph. If you ever have something useful to say, just send it to me.

          7. BillP November 26, 2013

            I can agree with your 1st sentence about deciding what is an excessive salary but the rest is pure conservative bs. Take food stamps out of the farm bill but give subsidies to rich people who happen to own farms, why? What proof do you have that Medicare cuts were caused by the ACA?

          8. itsfun November 27, 2013

            Just read the news, Money was taken out of the medicare budget and put into opamacare tax

          9. Mama62 December 6, 2013

            The purpose of the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid are to ensure that as many people as possible be covered under some form of health insurance. If this involves some cost/benefit shifting from time to time is that really such a catastrophe? In the case of the ACA and Medicare the shift was about not subsidizing advantage plans offering benefits above the normal Medicare benefits. If you want those additional benefits, pay for a supplement if you can afford one. Isn’t that a free market concept? Of course if we would do the sane thing we would have universal coverage and all that money would go into the same pot anyway. As it stands today, the poorest have Medicaid which costs them nothing and covers their expenses 100%. The middle class/working class pay a premium for their coverage along with deductibles and co-pays and Medicare premiums with every pay check they receive. This notion that everyone should pay something is a reality for anyone who ever draws a paycheck. It is only those at the very bottom of the economic scale who may never pay into the system….seems to me that if we concentrate on creating better paying jobs and raising the minimum wage, the smaller that bottom group becomes. Isn’t that the goal? To put more payers into the system?

          10. itsfun December 6, 2013

            Yes, it is a catastrophe if one is denied a procedure that may save their life. The death panel can say, you are to old for that procedure and don’t have enough years left, so just take a pain pill and make you final arrangements. You are making a argument to repeal the obamacare tax when you say the poor already get Medicaid. If the poor can’t afford insurance today, what makes you think they can afford to pay for insurance because of the obamacare tax? They will be forced to spend money they don’t have. Will they be forced to make a choice between paying for insurance or their homes or cars, or whatever. How many foreclosures will the obamacare tax cause? I agree on a higher minimum wage. I think $9 or $10 should be the minimum. However, with the employers being forced to pay the obamacare tax, they are being forced to reduce hours for these employees. So raising the minimum wage and lowering working hours will help no one.

          11. Mama62 December 6, 2013

            Just what Obamacare tax are you referring to? The only poor people suffering with Obamacare are the ones in he red states that refuse to accept the Medicaid funding to include more people. The poor people with blue govs or red states with sane people running them are not paying anything under Obamacare. Poor working people will qualify for subsidies, so your argument is moot. There is a cap on the premium based on income. Do you know anything about the law or do you just repeat what you hear on Fox? Where was your concern for all the families declaring bankruptcy and losing everything do to illness when hey had no insurance? We’re they important? Guess not in your opinion.

          12. itsfun December 6, 2013

            Didn’t you know the Supreme Court said obamacare is constitutional only as a tax. Thus the obamacare tax. I didn’t realize you are a doctor and have the knowledge to declare who is sane and who is not. Who do you think pays for the subsidies? Do you think maybe the taxpayers? If people couldn’t afford insurance before obamacare tax, how are they going to afford it now. Even team Obama has stopped using the word affordable when talking about the AFA. Where do you come off deciding I had or have no concern for people. I have said over and over and over, everyone should have quality medical care, and dental care, and vision care. This miserable law is just a distribution of wealth. If it is so good, why did congress whine until they got exempted. If it is so good for all, why did Obama illegally delay the enactment of the law for businesses? This law has the power to deny coverage for people if the Independent Payment Advisory Board (Death Panel) doesn’t think you are important enough to live. In the news today, it was reported that 70% of doctors in California will not participate in the exchanges. In Ohio only 1 company will be accepted by the Cleveland Clinic. Only 2 companies will be accepted by the Mayo Clinic in Minn. This is happening in many hospitals in our country. The law should be repealed and a new one created by a committee of actual doctors, hospital administrators, insurance executives, politicians, instead of just some politician in a back room. This is not a solution of a problem, but instead it is creating more problems. No one should have to lose their homes or declare bankruptcy because of illness. This is a place for the government to help people. Instead this is causing a huge division in our country, our President has been caught lying about the plan over and over.

          13. Mama62 December 6, 2013

            Obamacare will actually reduce the cost to employers in he long run. Unless they have more than 50 employees and weren’t providing any health insurance before. At least now they will get some help with the premiums. You really should read the law.

      2. LotusJoan November 26, 2013

        If the shareholders knew about the compensation package of
        executives and how misappropriate it is – then they might do something about it. It is now mandatory for corporations to disclose this information. Wal Mart pays it’s CEO over 1000 times what it pays its average worker. This is not a reward for good service as Wal Mart’s same store profits are in decline.

      3. Independent1 November 26, 2013

        Private companies are one thing, but the SEC should be defining rules for what CEOs of publicly held (stock) companies can earn. There should be some clear guidelines as to what the boards of publicly held companies can award CEOs and themselves based on a company’s profits or lack of them. CEOs and boards of publicly held companies should only be able to award themselves a certain percentage of a year’s profits, and certainly not get bonuses in years when there are no profits as is happening today. The monies that CEOS and board members take out of the publicly held companies reduces the money that the company can be reinvested within itself which decreases stockholder value. And board members should certainly not be able to award huge golden parachutes to CEOs whose guidance has resulted in negative company performance when they’re getting rid of them; which many have over the past couple decades.

  3. Elliot J. Stamler November 26, 2013

    A few years ago the NY legislature raised the minimum wage overturning the veto and furious opposition of our then allegedly “moderate” Republican governor, George E. Pataki. Gov. Pataki brought out the old argument that raising the minimum wage would drive business out of the state. Not only did that not happen but the economic evidence was that it was precisely the businesses paying the minimum wage that were NOT able to move their operations to another state – not to mention that most of our neighbor states already had higher minimum wage statutes. Gov. Pataki like virtually all Republicans..and Pataki certainly was in fact a conservative (‘tho not a Tea Party nutcase) believe in the kind of capitalism that existed before 1933. Most of us don’t…and I am assuredly a capitalist. Without sensible regulations capitalism completely unfettered leads not to prosperity but plutocracy, poverty and ultimately violent revolution. Just look at the French, Russian and German Nazi Revolution which was de facto a revolution as indeed Hitler always loudly proclaimed.

    Reply
    1. BBWeekly November 26, 2013

      Fair enough, but the French and Russian revolutions were against absolute rulers who had squandered their power bases. Capitalism generally has enough popular support to at least maintain the resources for the well off to protect themselves. I think of Elizabeth Warren as not much different than Emma Goldman in her heyday, and Goldman was ultimately deported while Pinkerton detectives pounded on striking workers. Revolution never took root, even back then. Sure we might as well eventually end up with slightly higher minimum wage ($9 is not damaging, it’s still a trickle) but there’s absolutely no reason to worry about violent revolution.

      1. Dominick Vila November 26, 2013

        A revolution over an issue like the minimum wage, or even the emergence of a plutocracy, is unlikely considering the level of complacency that exists among our populace and the conviction that our way of life is second to none.
        The real problem for our economy, if the minimum wage is not raised to a livable wage, is its dependence on consumerism. A poor or middle class person with an extra buck in their pockets will spend it immediately, a wealthy person spends unexpected profits in London, Paris, Rome, Madrid or Bali. Even those who are focused, almost strictly, on accumulation of wealth, are more likely to invest their loot in countries that offer a higher ROI than in a saturated market.

  4. itsfun November 26, 2013

    The minimum wage should be raised. Raising it to $9.00 would help a lot of people and making $18,000 a year is above the poverty level. The bigger problem is no one will make the $18,000 because employers are not going to let people work 40 hours and be forced to pay health care for them.

    Reply
    1. stcroixcarp November 26, 2013

      This is why we need single payer health care. Everyone gets health care and employers will not have that excuse to keep employees part time. All employers should be made to pay into a health program based on the number of employees, not the hours worked, and there needs to be a big penalty if companies lay off hoards of employees to improve the bottom line. Vulture capitalists will need to fully fund pension plans and severance pay when they do a chop shop takeover.

      1. itsfun November 27, 2013

        The obamacare tax plan is designed to create the single payer system.. That way the government can be in complete charge of your life and your lifestyle. You will be told what you can eat, when you can eat it, and how you will prepare it. Why would anyone want to own a company if the government tells them how they are going to spend any profit they may make. What happens when a company loses money? No one is being forced to work for a company that doesn’t supply health care and pensions. The bottom line is why people go into business and that is what keeps the business open. Somewhere along the line people must take charge of their own lives and be responsible for their selves.

        1. stcroixcarp November 27, 2013

          bullshit

          1. itsfun November 27, 2013

            And a happy Thanksgiving to you too.

        2. Mama62 December 6, 2013

          Please tell us in which countries with universal healthcare are people told what and where to eat.? France or perhaps Italy? Really limited choices there, right? If you make ridiculous remarks, no one will take you seriously except the brain dead. You need to get out more and experience the world as it actually is. I guess you prefer big agriculture to control what this country eats. By supporting the GOP, that is exactly what you will end up with.

          1. itsfun December 6, 2013

            Limit choices is yes. Do you know that only 2 insurance providers in Ohio, allow people to go to the Cleveland Clinic. Only one in Minn. allows people to go to the Mayo Clinic. Seattle Childrens hospital is in the same boat, as are many more quality hospitals. Isn’t that limited choice? You will soon be on Medicare, will your doctor accept Medicare patients? Will you local hospital accept Medicare patients now that the government had taken money from Medicare funding and given it to the Obamacare tax? The government has lowered what it will pay for doctors and hospitals. The Independent Payment Advisory Board (Death Panel) will decide how much they will pay the doctors and hospitals for procedures. It the doctors and/or hospitals won’t accept the lower amount of pay, don’t make any long term plans. I said to take food stamps out of the farm bill and put them where they belong. We need both small and big agriculture. There is no way, the mom and pop farms will feed our nation. As far as telling us what we can eat and can’t, haven’t you seen the huge push in our schools to allow only certain food for lunch? Some places have even banned certain foods in sack lunches. What foods we can eat wasn’t meant to be the main point. My point is government taking over more and more aspects of our lives. The first thing Obama wanted was his own police force. Doesn’t that remind you just a little of Hitlers brown shirts? Obama telling us what to talk about over our Thanksgiving dinners. Doesn’t the President of our country telling lies, then trying to cover up the lies with more lies make you wonder about his character or lack of? Only the brain dead are accepting this lack of honesty in the White House.

          2. Mama62 December 6, 2013

            You are the one that is brain dead. Public schools using public funds should make every effort to feed children responsibly in order to avoid health issues that we all pay for. The rest of your post is foolishness.

          3. itsfun December 7, 2013

            Why doesn’t the public have input to the public schools? Parents should decide what they feed their children, not you or a bunch of left wing educators. You are the foolish one here, living in your left wing fantasy world.

          4. Mama62 December 7, 2013

            What would you have them do? Take a vote on the menu every week? It was a long time ago but when I was in school my parents had no input into the school menu. What a ridiculous statement. Educators and administrators have a responsibility to do what is best for children while they are in their care. While my son was in private school, no one asked me to approve a menu either. Try again if you wish to keep making ridiculous remarks. Since you are on this liberal site and don’t seem to be looking to educate yourself, you are obviously just trolling……so I’m done with you. You have nothing to add to the conversation that is of any value. Go troll somewhere else.

          5. itsfun December 7, 2013

            I couldn’t be happier that someone like you is done with me. Just another rich liberal sending their children to private school, the telling the public school what to do. If you love the public school so much, why didn’t you send your children there.

            You do not have the right or authority to tell anyone what sites they can visit or what they can comment on. So just stay in your fantasy world, instead of telling everyone how they can live and what they can do.

  5. Dominick Vila November 26, 2013

    The question that should be directed at the governors – and people – in the red states that oppose raising the minimum wage to a livable wage is why do they believe paying workers a salary commensurate with their functional responsibilities would be detrimental to their standard of living and ability to attract investment, when their standard of living and job opportunities are the lowest in the country, and their ability to attract investment to create high paying jobs has not materialized?
    Having one of the lowest minimum wage standards in the industrialized world is an embarrassment. The minimum wage should have been raised many years ago, and with the possible exception of those determined to transform the United States into a plutocracy, there is no justification for the status quo.

    Reply
  6. guest November 26, 2013

    I have read a lot of negative comments about raising minimum wage and complaining that the government can’t tell businesses what to pay. Stop bashing Walmart then for paying some of the highest wages of it’s competitors. I keep seeing where walmart needs to pay more and more to stop their employees from collecting food stamps. People complaining that walmart won’t pay their employees a “living wage” – sorry, but the only fix to that is raising minimum wage – although walmart already pays more than the suggested wage increase – how will it effect THEM? It won’t. Raise minimum wage TO a living wage and then stop complaining about businesses that don’t pay a living wage. Either support raising minimum wage or stop complaining about business that already pay over minimum but still not a “living wage”. You guys can’t have it both ways.

    Reply
    1. highpckts November 26, 2013

      Isn’t that what everyone is talking about?? It’s just that Wally World is a mega company and prime example of poor wages!!

    2. Independent1 November 26, 2013

      Sorry, when the owners of a corporation that earns by far the highest profits of any multi-national retailer (17 Billion recently) exceeds the wealth of 40% of the lower income Americans, and yet are so greedy as to choose a business model which dictates not only paying the lowest minimum wage of any multi-national retailer, but also in controlling the hours worked of the people they hire to prevent from giving them benefits; is not going to be beyond severe criticizism just because America’s current laws allow them to get away with forcing millions of Wal-Mart’s workers to live below the poverty level!!

    3. 4sanity4all November 26, 2013

      Don’t be misled by the average Wal-Mart wage that they like to brag about. It is reached by figuring out an average of all employees, managers, truck drivers, warehouse guys, clerks, greeters, and so on. The ones at the bottom of the scale make way less than the managers, hence they are on Medicaid and food stamps. The white collar employees, on the other hand, have higher wages with benefits. And Walmart does offer everyone medical benefits, but the employees at the low end of their pay scale cannot afford to access it. So, on paper, Walmart looks generous, but in reality, they have a two tier system which is really draconian at the lower end.

  7. stan0301 November 26, 2013

    You certainly are going to kill what ever opportunity high school kids have for an after school job
    Stan

    Reply
    1. jointerjohn November 26, 2013

      Not raising the minimum wage will kill any opportunity for teenagers to get after school jobs. When the thirty year olds no longer have to work two minimum wage jobs at thirty hours per week each in order to survive, then more jobs will be open for the entry-level workers. If your premise was true, and it is not, then those states with low minimum wage would employ a greater number of their young workers. They do not.

      1. stan0301 November 26, 2013

        I know my business certainly no longer hires kids after school–maybe others do–but they really aren’t productive enough to justify the wages you want to pay them.

        1. jointerjohn November 26, 2013

          I hear that from many employers and therefore believe you. That is an indictment of the lousing parenting we have done. We allowed them to grow up on an intellectual junk-food diet of DVDs, video games and no household chores. They are poorly prepared for the work world. Thank you for your post.

  8. David Tait November 26, 2013

    Why do relative poor people in red states continue to vote Republican when they should know that the Repubs are only looking out for the rich? I think it may be that they’re so conservative on social issues that they just can’t bring themselves to vote democratic.

    Reply
    1. Elliot J. Stamler November 26, 2013

      Read Thomas Frank’s WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS? It precisely addresses your point, Mr. Tait, in depth.

    2. Mama62 December 6, 2013

      Problem is this misguided thought that government & economic policies should in any way be affected by anyone’s religious ideology. If you are poor or middle class, the GOP policies will never be good for you. Your interest are simply not theirs. The GOP uses religious issues to keep their flock from leaving, much as Nixon’s southern strategy used the racist arm of the Democrats in the 60’s to pump up the GOP falling membership. If its religious ideology you seek, look to your Church and not your government. Even Jesus understood that.

  9. David Tait November 26, 2013

    Thanks for the “What’s Wrong with Kansas” reference. I read about its major tenets on Wikipedia and I see what you mean.

    Reply
  10. Beaulieu6 November 27, 2013

    It’s time for us to draw a line in the sand and tell the Republicans enough is enough stop the obstruction and the gridlock and raise the Minimum Wage from $7.25 to $10.00 has the GOP must understand that raising the Minimum Wage is good for our economy.
    As a factory worker who has worked physically hard on the production line at the Florida Coca-Cola Bottling Company with my colleagues from 1976 to 2006 I, understand how important it is to raise the Minimum Wage, to have extra money in your pocket.
    The Republicans must understand that with the high cost of living today it’s important for the low-income Middle-Class, to make enough to be able to pay their bill and to live the American dream.
    The Republicans must understand that the engine and backbone of our economy are the Middle-Class 98% percent those who work hard every single day, to be able to make end meet.
    Those Republicans are making more money than those in the Middle-Class and they are not working has hard as they should, all they have done since in office is “Obstruct” the President on “Progress”. They don’t know what it is to work on the production line from early morning to late evening, Why? because they never experience it.
    It’s time for the Republicans to wake up and smell the coffee an begin to walk in our shoes to see what we are going through each and every day, and the struggle we are facing on a daily basic.
    I’m optimistic, confident, and hopeful that with the strong leadership of the Democrats and President Obama we are on the path in facing a lasting prosperity, as early January 1, 2015.

    Reply
  11. Beaulieu6 November 28, 2013

    The one who deserve to make more money are the low-income Middle-Class has they are working harder than anyone in the House of Representatives in which their salary should be cut by 30 to 40% percent, and the Minimum Wage must be raise from $7.25 to $10.00 it is common sense.

    Reply
  12. Beaulieu6 November 30, 2013

    IN 2014 HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PUT THIS THEIR TOP PRIORITIES:
    1. To pass a Comprehensive Immigration bill in giving the 11 million illegal immmigrants a path to citizenship.
    2. To pass a Universal Background Check, in reducing gun violence in America.
    3. Raising the Minimum Wage from $7.25 to $10.00
    4. Stop giving Oil Corporation taxpayers subsidies.
    5. Expanding Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to current Seniors and future generation, expanded for the next 75 years.

    Reply

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