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The Democrats’ Not-So-Secret Weapon For 2014? Raising The Minimum Wage

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The Democrats’ Not-So-Secret Weapon For 2014? Raising The Minimum Wage


In March of this year, the House GOP unanimously voted against raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour over three years.

Almost nine months later, after a government shutdown and a budget deal that did not include an extension of emergency benefits for the unemployed, the party’s position has not changed, even as public opinion swells in favor of increasing the wage. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found 77 percent in favor of a hike.

The New York Times reports that an official from the Obama White House met with allies in the labor movement and Congress earlier this month to coordinate a Senate vote with grassroots efforts to advocate for the policy.

“You can make a very strong case that this will be a helpful issue for Democrats in 2014,” President Obama’s senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer said.

The president first proposed the rate hike in his State of the Union address in January.

In conservative-leaning states, Democrats hope to put the issue on the ballot “as a way to shift the political conversation back to their preferred terms,” according to the Times. In states like Arkansas, Alaska, and South Dakota, the Democratic Party is looking to use the issue to pick up or protect vulnerable Senate seats.

For Democrats and advocates of a minimum-wage increase, the argument is quite simple: Raising the wage is just one of the ways the country can begin combating growing income inequality.

The GOP, however, claims that raising the minimum wage would actually have an adverse effect on the economy, slowing its recovery.

“Why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said recently, implying that a higher minimum wage will discourage small businesses with less funds to hire more workers. With a CBS News poll last month showing that a majority of Republican voters – 57 percent – support raising the minimum wage, the Speaker’s argument holds little weight even with his party’s own supporters.

At the aformentioned meeting earlier this month, presidential advisor Gene B. Sperling pointed out that Republican leaders decided in 1996 to agree to an increase in exchange for help for small businesses rather than letting it become an election-year issue. But today’s GOP seems to lack the willingness to hand President Obama any victory, even if it might help them.

An estimated 14.2 percent of workers would benefit from an increase in the federal minimum wage, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Photo: The All-Nite Images via Flickr



  1. Bill Thompson December 30, 2013

    This is a a great strategy for the Democrats it should help enormously. The other part of the equation is will the people that have been working for the minimum wage vote Democrat. One would only hope so a great deal of people that are working for the minimum wage are presently in red states. Time and time again Republicans vote against their best interest.

  2. Mark Forsyth December 31, 2013

    Winning the next election would seem simple enough.Make sure that Democratic and Progressive candidates are well supported and let the gop defeat themselves.They are already wounded and bleeding due to their anti-social policies.

  3. Bryan Blake December 31, 2013

    If in fact the Democrats were still the party of the working poor and middle class this would be a good strategy. But since the Democratic Party has been taken over by the DLC this is a hollow strategy. They cannot claim to be a party that represents the working classes when a big chunk of their financing comes from corporate America! Dump the DLC and their corporate masters and the working men and women of America might just believe again and show up to vote. Like when Democrats were Democrats!

    1. midway54 December 31, 2013

      The DLC was fortunately disbanded a couple of years ago. I agree that it was not really a supporter of historically Democratic ideals (Clinton was a major player in it). I think the push should now be on strongly for a renewed Progressive agenda especially outlined by Teddy Roosevelt as the first presidential candidate on a Progressive Party ticket in 1912 and carried out aggressively by FDR as a Democrat in the face of an obstructionist Supreme Court and the usual array of Republican opposition characters before 1937.

    2. jointerjohn December 31, 2013

      I mostly agree with you Bryan, but we now need one more presidency in order to make Supreme Court appointments. Until we can reverse Americans United and similar decisions that have over-empowered corporations. Besides, if going to bat for a higher minimum wage is not standing up to be the party of the poor and middle class, what is? I don’t like the corporate influence democrats have allowed any more than you do, but to completely balk them entirely in the current campaign financing environment would be simple suicide.

      1. Allan Richardson January 2, 2014

        As an old progressive with years of observation, I remember how the Democrats lost in 1968. The disorganized left was, legitimately, against the Vietnam war, and rather than working and voting for LBJ’s more liberal VP, Humphrey, they allowed the Nixon team (forerunners of the current TP crowd) to define the issues: that being against the war was anti-American, and that all those liberals were dirty hippies (who ALL smoked pot and took worse stuff, engaged in “free love,” and loved black people — literally, too often). The riots outside the 1968 convention in Chicago, caught on news cameras, essentially turned the election over to Nixon.

        Would anti-war, pro-minority, pro-women’s lib, anti-military “hippie” voters have liked what a Humphrey presidency would have done? Probably not completely, but a lot more than they liked what Nixon did, and he was a “moderate” Republican. And with them as a voting base, Humphrey could very well have ended the war in his FIRST term, while Nixon, running on a “secret plan” to end the war quickly in his first term, in fact had to evacuate Saigon and let South Vietnam fall, in his SECOND term.

        Until a truly progressive party is created and built up to formidable levels, let us be thankful that ONE of the “corporate” parties does NOT want corporations to get away with everything, and DOES want to put them under reasonable control for the sake of the working public. The alternative (and no matter HOW many non-voters say neither side was liberal “enough” for them, the alternative WILL WIN the election), is a Republican (meaning these days, almost Tea Party) Congress and, in 2017, President. As the Alka-Seltzer ad pointed out, if you’re hitching a ride to Miami and you’re hip deep in snow, don’t turn down a ride just because the driver is only going to Fort Lauderdale. Or even Savannah.

  4. disqus_ivSI3ByGmh December 31, 2013

    77% of the American Public may favor the increase in the minimum wage, but the only people the Republicans listen to – the 1%, aka “The Job Creators” – are opposed to it. Therefore, the Republican Party is opposed to it.

  5. irishtap December 31, 2013

    The Democrats have more than thirty years of ammunition with which to mount one hell of a populist campaign. Since Reagans’ ‘trickle down’ insult, the middle class has steadily declined in earnings potential, and political power – while corporations reap fantastic gains in these areas. Conservative ‘think tanks’, fueled by rich corporatists create messages designed to resonate with the low information set i.e. “Government is always bad” – “free market always right” – “greedy teachers” etc. . How difficult can it be to simply message the extreme corruption brought to political campaigns, from the Koch brothers, the Walton family, Sheldon Addelson, etc. . These people are the epitome of vast overreach and harmful influence, unlimited spending brings to representative government and society in general.

    1. sigrid28 December 31, 2013

      Not to mention Citizens United and its pernicious effects.

      1. irishtap January 1, 2014

        Correct, I view Citizen’s United as a right wing ‘anti – democracy insurgency’.

  6. One Thirsty Bear January 1, 2014

    A deranged liberal named Floyd Corkins was just sentenced to 25 years in prison for his violent domestic terrorist attack last year in Washington, DC: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/09/floyd-corkins-ii-to-be-sentenced-today-for-attempted-mass-shooting-94219.html


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