Friday, May 02, 2014
Senate GOP Votes Against Raising The Minimum Wage
They have been filibustering a bill introduced in the Senate that would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. On Wednesday the Senate voted on whether to invoke cloture (stop the filibuster) and bring the bill to the Senate floor for debate and a vote -- but the Republicans stood solidly against raising the minimum wage, and defeated the cloture motion.
The vote was 54 to 42 in favor of invoking cloture, but that was short of the 60 votes needed to stop the Republican filibuster. Only one Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, voted to stop the filibuster. The other 42 Republicans voting all voted to continue the filibuster. Meanwhile, 52 Democrats and both Independents voted to stop the filibuster so a vote could be taken on the bill. Senator Reid was the only Democrat to vote no (and that was just a parliamentary maneuver, so he could bring it back up for another vote in the future).
And that's just what Reid should do -- bring it back up for another vote, and do that as many times as possible before the November election. Polls show a significant majority of the American people are in favor of raising the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour (even in the Republican-controlled red states) -- with a recent Bloomberg Poll showing support for raising the minimum wage was 69% among the general public.
The Democrats need to beat this drum loudly, and make sure every hard-working American understands it is the Republicans that are keeping the minimum wage so low. Some, perhaps even most, Republican officials would like to even eliminate the minimum wage altogether -- and let employers pay less than the current $7.25 an hour.
They have several false arguments they insist on making to justify their opposition to raising the minimum wage. They will tell you it's just paid to teenagers, but the truth is that most minimum wage workers (an overwhelming majority) are adults and have families to support. They will tell you that raising the minimum wage will cause more unemployment, but numerous studies have shown that is just not true. And they will tell you that raising the minimum wage will hurt the economy, but just the opposite is true (since more people will have more money to spend, and spending that money will boost the economy).
They act like $10.10 an hour is some kind of fantastically large wage. But the truth is that a full-time worker making $10.10 an hour will just be making a yearly salary of about $21,000 (less than half of the national median wage). It will just barely lift a person out of poverty.
One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, thinks she is being the "voice of reason" by calling for a compromise -- raising the minimum wage to somewhere between $8.00 and $9.00 an hour. But that is not reasonable at all, since it would still leave hard-working full-time employees making a poverty wage. The $10.10 an hour figure wasn't pulled out of thin air. It is the minimum salary that would lift many Americans out of poverty (and take them off government rolls). Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa put it well when he said:
"We will not compromise on $10.10. That just gets us above the poverty level. Anyone who wants to go below that is saying that a hard-working American who works full-time all year long still will live in poverty. It's time to get beyond that."
The $10.10 an hour minimum wage is reasonable, and it should be instituted as soon as possible. And as long as the Republicans continue to keep that from happening, they should be brought to account for that -- and voted out of office. No hard-working full-time employee should be paid a poverty wage.
(The caricature above of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is by DonkeyHotey.)