As the Huffington Post points out it’s been 4 years since the last increase in the Federal minimum wage. It’s time to raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation so that Congress does not repeatedly ignore inflation impacts on the wages of low income workers. Corporate millionaires seem to have no problem getting their income raised. Why do Republicans in Congress hate low income workers?
If you raise the minimum wage, low income workers will spend the money and help the economy. Henry Ford long ago understood that if he didn’t pay his workers reasonable wages they weren’t going to be able to buy his cars. It seems conservative and Tea party Republicans in Congress both don’t understand or care.
As an article a year ago in Deseret News noted:
The federal minimum wage, which is $7.25, hasn’t changed since 2009. In real terms, America’s lowest-paid workers make less than they did in 1968, according to Remapping Debate. With an annual income of $15,080, a full-time minimum wage worker’s salary is just under the 2012 federal poverty threshold of $15,130 for a family of two. It falls well below the poverty threshold for a family of three, which is $19,090.
A year later nothing has changed. Republicans continue to sneer at low income workers rather than working for fairness and a more equitable distribution of the fruits of business that don’t just increase wages and benefits for those at the top and increase dividends for stock holders, while ignoring the real life day to day plight of many of their workers.
While Congress is under siege by Republican lawmakers opposes raising the minimum wage, states have fared better in increasing it. As Stateline pointed out earlier this year:
“…minimum wage hikes at the state level have been popular among voters: Since 1998, proposed increases have been on statewide ballots 10 times in nine states, and all of them were successful. In those elections the ballot measures won an average of 65 percent of the vote, according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a progressive Washington, D.C., group that advocated for the hikes.”
Washington State has the highest state minimum wage in the country at $9.19 an hour. It has remained as a leader in keeping pace with inflation because when it was passed by the voters it included language for an automatic increase each year based on inflation. When Initiative 688 was passed by the voters in 1998, Washington State was the first state in the country to put in place an automatic inflation increase each year. Unfortunately the federal minimum wage law does not and is subject to continual delays and battles in Congress to try to increase it to keep pace with inflation.
New Jersey has a minimum wage increase initiative on the ballot this year. Stateline notes that
“If New Jersey voters approve the measure on the ballot there, the state would become the 11th with annual automatic increases to the minimum wage indexed to inflation: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington already index. In all of them except Vermont, voters approved the measure with the automatic hike at the polls.“
Congress needs to act to be fair and just to low income workers in our country. Conservative politics driven by Tea Party Republicans and libertarian philosophy needs to be shown for what it is – a hypocritical joke where tax breaks for corporations and special interests rule their decisions to benefit the well off and few while millions struggle to meet basic living expenses.
The country is continuing under conservative policies to further divide the rich and poor. Wealth continues to be concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer Americans. More states need to push for increases in their state minimum wage, putting more pressure on Congress to act. Republican anti-worker positions needs to be challenged and voters supporting state minimum wage laws that include automatic increases for inflation are one way to do that. In addition continued pressure needs to be put on Congress to act.