Saturday, January 25, 2014
Huge Majority Wants Minimum Wage Raised To $10.10
67% of the general public is dissatisfied about the wealth and income gap in the United States. Now there are two new polls showing the same thing. A Pew Research Center survey shows 65% of the public believes the gap has grown too large, and a CBS Poll shows that 62% believes the distribution of money and wealth should be more even in this country.
Most people want a fairer economy. The real question is how do we accomplish that. The Democrats want to fully fund social programs helping disadvantaged people, protect Social Security & Medicare, raise taxes slightly on the rich, and make sure corporations pay their fair share of taxes. The Republicans want just the opposite -- to make further cuts to social programs, to privatize or cut benefits for Social Security & Medicare, and to give both the rich and corporations further tax cuts. The Republicans ignore the fact that their wishes would just make the problem worse, and increase the vast gap in wealth and income.
There is one solution, which although it wouldn't completely solve the problem, would make a very good start on solving the problem -- raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour. And that is a solution supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans. The Pew Research Center says 73% of the public supports that, and the CBS Poll shows that 72% would support it. This includes large percentages of both Democrats and Independents, and about half of the Republican base. That's nearly 3 out of every 4 Americans who want the minimum wage raised to $10.10 an hour.
Of course, the congressional Republicans hate this idea (even though it is supported by half of their base). They have made it clear they will block any attempt to raise the minimum wage (by any amount), and many of them have expressed their desire to abolish the minimum wage altogether (and allow corporations and other businesses to abuse their workers with wages even lower than $7.25 an hour).
I hope Democratic candidates realize the golden opportunity this presents them in the coming election. They need to make raising the minimum wage one of their primary issues. It could make the difference in many competitive districts -- maybe enough of a difference to flip the House of Representatives.
The Pew Research Center survey was done between January 15th and 19th of a random nationwide sample of 1,504 adults, and has a margin of error of 2.9 points.
The CBS News Poll was done between January 17th and 21st of a random nationwide sample of 1,018 adults, and has a margin of error of 3 points.
Since the Republicans are likely to block restoring funding for social programs or making the rich and corporations pay more in taxes, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has come up with a rather ingenious solution. The Republicans will probably hate it (since they hate everything but cutting taxes for the rich), but I like it. Mr. Reich says:
HOW TO DEAL WITH LOW-WAGE EMPLOYERS. I met yesterday with a former executive of a big corporation who had a good idea. Taxpayers spend at least $55 billion a year on benefits (Medicaid, food stamps, etc.) to working people whose employers don’t pay enough to provide them and their families a decent standard of living. So in effect we’re subsidizing these employers – many of which (like Walmart) are large and profitable. His idea was to tax these employers by that amount. It would be easy enough to do since the IRS and the states have the Social Security numbers of all employees who receive these benefits, and can connect them to their employers. Not only would this “lousy-pay” tax be fair to other companies that pay higher wages and don’t get the subsidy. It would also help replenish federal and state budgets. And it would prod these low-paying corporations to raise wages so their employees don’t have to rely on taxpayer-financed benefits.