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Left pushes for $10 minimum wage, but House Democratic leadership balks
The Hill ^ | June 7, 2012 | Mike Lillis

Posted on 06/07/2012 6:42:21 PM PDT by jazusamo

The House Democrats pushing for a steep hike in the minimum wage could face an unlikely foe: their own leadership.

Behind Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (Ill.), almost two dozen liberal Democrats endorsed legislation this week to raise the federal minimum wage immediately from $7.25 to $10 per hour, the first such increase in three years.

The lawmakers think they’ve found a winning issue in an election cycle that’s featured the rise of the Occupy movement, criticism of Mitt Romney’s path to wealth and a class-centered fight over the Bush-era tax rates.

But no Democratic leaders have endorsed the measure, and the silence coming from their offices this week has highlighted the potential political difficulty in raising the minimum wage — a move that’s anathema to the powerful business lobby — amid sluggish economic times.

Concerns about the economy have increased since last Friday, when a jobs report showed an anemic May during which only 69,000 jobs were added. A higher minimum wage could discourage employers from creating more jobs and that, in turn, could hurt President Obama in the election.

Jackson said Thursday that he’s been in discussion with some Democratic leaders — including Reps. George Miller (Calif.), head of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and John Larson (Conn.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus — “many of whom are crafting and thinking about the idea of a minimum wage strategy.”

But Jackson also suggested those leaders are leaning toward a less aggressive approach that would hike the minimum wage in small increments over a span of years — something akin to a proposal by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate labor committee, that would hike the minimum wage gradually to $9.80 over three years.

Jackson called that strategy “unacceptable.”

“We want to start at $10, which keeps us up with the 1968 wage,” Jackson said, referring to the rate 44 years ago, which, indexed for inflation, would be roughly $10 per hour.

“Our bill,” he added, “should be seen as an effort to encourage and to push the leadership further than it’s currently willing to go.”

So far this year, Democratic leaders haven’t been willing to go anywhere on the issue. Harkin’s bill has received almost no attention; congressional leaders in both chambers have all but ignored the issue; and although Obama vowed after his 2008 victory to hike the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011, GOP contender Mitt Romney has paid the issue more attention on the campaign trail.

“There’s probably not a need to raise the minimum wage,” Romney told CNBC in March, remarks that came after conservatives pounced on his endorsement of a wage hike just two months earlier.

Neither the White House nor Romney’s campaign responded to requests for comment Thursday.

For some liberals, the absence of a unified Democratic front on the issue represents not only a missed opportunity but an erosion of party ideals.

“The minimum wage increase used to be the signatory dynamic of the traditional Democratic Party since they got it in 1938. That’s how decayed they are,” the consumer advocate Ralph Nader told The Hill last month. “You’re fighting their desire to win the election up against their inherent caution and cowardliness to do anything other than raise more money and put more insipid ads on TV.”

Last month, Nader sent letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging them to adopt a sharp minimum wage hike as part of the Democrats’ 2012 platform — a move he said would appeal greatly to the estimated 30 million workers who currently earn between $7.25 and $10 an hour.

“You get a conservative voter making eight bucks an hour at Wal-Mart — he or she is not going to say, ‘I don’t want 10 because I’m conservative,’ ” Nader said. “They know they’re grossly underpaid.”

Neither Reid nor Pelosi responded to the letter, Nader’s office said, nor did their offices respond to requests for comment for this story.

Some Democrats said the push for a minimum wage hike — though almost certainly dead on arrival in a GOP-controlled House — jibes nicely with the party’s attacks on Republicans for supporting the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

Jackson’s bill arrives, for instance, as Obama hammers Romney for his success at Bain Capital, a private equity firm, and other Democratic leaders are increasingly trying to draw lines of distinction between the wealthy and middle-class Americans, notably in the ongoing battle over which income levels should continue to benefit from the George W. Bush-era tax rates, which expire Jan. 1.

“It draws the contrast that part of the economic recovery has to be jobs and it has to be jobs with sustainable wages,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a supporter of Jackson’s bill, said Thursday. “Economically it’s good and strategically it’s as good, too.”

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Arizona; US: California; US: Connecticut; US: Illinois; US: Iowa; US: Massachusetts; US: Nevada
KEYWORDS: arizona; baincapital; california; connecticut; democrats; georgemiller; harryreid; illinois; iowa; jessejacksonjr; johnlarson; massachusetts; minimumwage; nancypelosi; nevada; occubots; occutardation; occutards; occuturds; ralphnader; raulgrijalva; thehill; tomharkin; walmart
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To: Koblenz
If we hadn't had so much immigration these last 20 years, we'd probably have a de facto minimum wage of over $10 per hour.

If we didn't have a minimum wage that was enough to support an entire family in Mexico, we'd probably not have the massive immigration problem we do. Getting rid of the freebie "minority" entitlements would also do as much as any fence could do to staunch the tide of illegal migrant workers.

21 posted on 06/07/2012 11:55:18 PM PDT by Finny (A deal with the devil is ALWAYS a losing proposition. Voting for Romney to avoid Obama is just that.)
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To: cableguymn
let us not forget that many union contracts are tied to the minimum wage.. Follow the money!

You got that right. Unions are steadfast supporters of the minimum wage.

22 posted on 06/07/2012 11:58:11 PM PDT by Finny (A deal with the devil is ALWAYS a losing proposition. Voting for Romney to avoid Obama is just that.)
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To: null and void

Some posters here are just too fast for me, and get the appropriate response up immediately. If $10/hr minimum wage is good, then $20 should be better. Two posters have suggested $100/hr. Same principle.

I do have the answer, though. Any increase would be bad in it effects on the economy and for lower-wage workers, but the political advantage of smaller increases is that the proponents can keep playing the game indefinitely, every election time. There is almost no limit to how many times they can “fight for the poor” by pulling this swindle. It is a crop with perennial yields, like the “defense” of social security.

23 posted on 06/08/2012 4:46:38 AM PDT by docbnj
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To: jazusamo
And, any adult who cannot find employment (e.g. whose work is not worth $10/hour) can receive a public assistance check every week, presumably $400.

So, um, where's the downside here? </sarcasm>

24 posted on 06/08/2012 12:19:38 PM PDT by newgeezer (It is [the people's] right and duty to be at all times armed. --Thomas Jefferson)
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To: jazusamo

Placing a floor on the price of something will render anything whose value is below that floor, unmarketable.

The only way in which setting a minimum labor price by fiat will increase anyone’s wages is by removing from the labor market those whose labor would otherwise be worth less. If a worker wants to receive $10/hour for his labor, what would stop him from simply refusing to work for less, other than the fact that others who are asked to work for $9/hour might not refuse?

If someone could do productive work which would be worth $1/hour, but was incapable of doing anything more valuable, in what way is paying the person to do nothing be batter than than paying him $1 to do what he can? Even if the person would be unable to survive without some government assistance beyond his wages, I’d much rather the government provide support for people who are earning as much as they can, than support those who aren’t doing anything.

25 posted on 06/08/2012 5:13:07 PM PDT by supercat (Renounce Covetousness.)
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To: RobertClark

This is a standard election ploy from their well-used playbook, they bring up minimum wage increases almost every election if not every election.

26 posted on 06/10/2012 1:41:05 PM PDT by izzatzo (Just beat Obama.)
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To: SunkenCiv
The country really needs a 99 percent income tax on showbiz libtards.

Well done, LMAO

27 posted on 06/10/2012 1:46:55 PM PDT by nascarnation
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To: jazusamo

A strong economy will raise wages. Here in western ND, you can’t get anyone to work for only $10/hr.

28 posted on 06/10/2012 1:47:26 PM PDT by upsdriver
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To: jazusamo

Rush: “ Minimum wage isn’t what I HAVE to pay you, it is ALL I HAVE to pay you!”

Minimum wage destroys competition.

29 posted on 06/10/2012 2:22:13 PM PDT by CodeToad (Homosexuals are homophobes. They insist on being called 'gay' instead.)
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