Saturday, July 28, 2012

Democrats introduce bill to raise minimum wage to $9.80

  By Laura Clawson for Daily Kos Labor on Fri Jul 27, 2012

More than 100 House Democrats introduced a bill Thursday to raise the minimum wage. Rep. George Miller's proposed legislation would raise the minimum wage to $9.80 over three years, 85 cents per year, then link it to inflation, so that raising it wouldn't have to be a giant political fight every few years. Tipped workers, who haven't seen their $2.13 minimum wage increased since 1991, would get 85 cent raises until the tipped minimum was 70 percent of the full minimum wage.

"Anyone who works hard and plays by the rules should not live in poverty. Yet 47 million Americans now qualify as the working poor. Raising the minimum wage helps families make ends meet," Miller said in a statement accompanying the bill.

If you work at the current minimum wage for 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, with no time off at all, the $15,080 you earn puts you $50 below the poverty threshold for a family of two. That—and the fact that many minimum wage employers keep workers at part-time levels—is why so many working people are forced to rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid and other aid programs. It shouldn't be controversial to say that if you work, you shouldn't be poor. But to today's Republican Party, that counts as a radical statement.

Raising the minimum wage won't even come up for a vote in Speaker John Boehner's House. We need a Democratic majority and Speaker Pelosi for that, just as we did in 2006 when Republicans had been blocking minimum wage increases for years. If ever you're tempted to think there's not enough difference between Democrats and Republicans to bother voting, remember that Democrats are the ones trying to give 28 million workers a raise in a way that will stimulate the economy.