Today Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-California) plan to introduce legislation that would raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $10.10. Minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009, when it was signed into law by George. W. Bush.
In his 2013 State of the Union address. Obama called for a $9.00 minimum wage. As reported at Think Progress, the bill sponsored by Harkin and Miller
… would, like Obama’s proposal, index the minimum wage to inflation so that it keeps up with the cost of living over time. Harkin and Miller told the Huffington Post that raising the minimum wage was ‘a matter of justice’ for low-income workers … .
A “matter of justice” makes sense to me. There’s something very wrong about living in a “work hard, play by the rules, and you will succeed” nation that nevertheless means working full time for a salary that keeps you in the poverty level.
More from Think Progress:
As Harkin noted, executive salaries have skyrocketed over the last three decades, rising 127 times faster than worker pay. Corporate profits have also risen to record levels, but the minimum wage hasn’t kept up, even as low-wage jobs are becoming more prevalent after the Great Recession.
The “peak buying power” of the minimum wage was reached in 1968. Ponder that a moment. Now, to reach that level today,
… it would have to be $9.92 an hour. Had it been indexed to inflation in 1968, it would be $10.40 an hour today.
Obama’s $9.00 minimum is off considerably, and not even the $10.10 minimum of Harkin and Miller meets that indexed $10.40. And yet, unsurprisingly, there is opposition.
Top Republicans have already come out against raising the minimum wage, but 65 Republicans currently serving in the House or Senate supported the minimum wage increase Bush signed into law in 2007.
This was widely reported in February, following Obama’s State of the Union address, For example, Top Republicans Oppose Obama’s Call To Raise The Minimum Wage:
(T)op Republicans are already coming out against it. During interviews … House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) both made clear that they oppose raising the minimum wage, citing its supposed effect on job creation … .
And this, 65 Republicans Supported Increasing The Minimum Wage When Bush Was President, including Paul Ryan.
Political momentum for an increase began in 2004, after President Bush announced his support for a bill by now-Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). After Democrats won majorities of the House and Senate in the 2006 elections, a minimum wage increase became one of their first priorities.
The Fair Minimum Wage Act raised, by incremental steps, the then $5.15-per-hour to $7.25. Since then, adjusting for inflation, “the real hourly minimum has dropped 33 centers per hour.”
The Republicans aren’t the only ones with different ideas, as Ralph Nader wrote, following Obama’s State of the Union address:
$9 an Hour? How About a Living Wage!
How could Barack Obama say … ‘let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour’?
Back in 2008, Obama campaigned to have a $9.50 per hour minimum wage by 2011. Now he’s settling for $9.00 by 2015!
At this point, I just hope there’s an increase, but won’t be surprised if there isn’t.
(Will Work For Living Wage via Reader Supported News)