House Dems Just Passed A Minimum Wage Increase–That’s A Big Deal (Video)

Donald Trump has claimed Democrats are getting nothing done in Congress.” 

This, like the other 10,000 he has told, is a lie.

Something that frequently gets lost in the morass of mainstream talking points is that Democrats have passed 49 of 51 bills, resolutions, and suspensions since reclaiming the House of Representatives in January. 

While it’s true Republicans still maintain control of the Senate, under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), thereby stymying chances of the House’s legislation of ever reaching the President’s desk, Democrats are laying down priorities they intend to sail through the Senate upon eventually regaining control.

Instead of thinking of their bills as exercises in futility, consider them bellwethers for where the Democratic party stands and intends to stand on issues in its future. 

On Thursday, Democrats passed more historic legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 from its current $7.25.

With 205 co-sponsors, the “Raise the Wage Act” seeks to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2024, giving a raise to roughly 40 million Americans.

Good news, but then, once again, there is Mitch McConnell, the self-described Grim Reaper,” who has vowed to kill bills he unilaterally deems “socialist legislation.”

The day the bill passed the House, Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called on McConnell to allow the Senate to vote on its own companion bill.

Sen. Sanders tweeted:

He added:

“Today I am proud to say that a $15 minimum wage has gone from laughable to inevitable.”

He then challenged McConnell to “bring my $15 an hour legislation to the floor for a vote as soon as possible,” explaining:

“If Senator McConnell wants to vote against that bill and explain to the people of Kentucky why he believes a $7.25 minimum wage is acceptable to him that is his prerogative. But he should not deny the rest of the Senate the opportunity to vote for this bill and increase wages for 40 million Americans. No one who has a job in America should be living in poverty. Let the Senate vote.”

There are those who claim raising the minimum wage will inevitably cost jobs since “employers will not be able to afford it.”

That is a specious argument straight out of neo-Conservative ideology.

We have increased–sometimes substantially– the federal minimum wage nine times since it was first enacted in 1938.  

The current $7.25 per-hour level is 10 years old. 

29 states, Washington, DC, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have higher rates–all still below $15 an hour.

On the surface, it may not seem to be more than imperiling employers, but when we take into consideration the overall benefit to the economy, we clearly realize the benefit to employers as well.

Paying workers more allows them more buying power.

Those at the bottom or middle rungs of the pecuniary ladder can’t afford to squirrel money away in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland. Unlike the super-wealthy, the poor and middle class spend 100% of their income. Since the economy only performs well when there’s money circulating through it, putting a little extra in people’s pockets acts as a stimulus, and has the potential in some cases to reduce people’s need for public assistance.

They put the additional income toward rent, mortgages, food, car payments and repairs, insurance, home repairs, bills, tuition, music lessons, tutoring, test prep courses.

With more money, they might be able to afford costly repairs to their homes and vehicles. That employs home-repair specialists and auto mechanics.  

With more money, they might be able to even purchase new cars. That employs car manufacturers and dealerships.

With more money, they might be able to splurge on a dinner out every so often. That employs restaurant workers.

With more money, they might be able to take vacations. That employs the tourism and hospitality industry.  

Look at what happened when Seattle raised the minimum wage after deficit hawks decried it as a ploy that would cripple the local economy.

Just the opposite happened. The local economy boomed.

Based on an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) analysis, the Democrats’ “Raise the Wage Act” would lift pay for nearly 40 million workers—26.6 percent of the workforce; allow year-round workers to earn an extra $3,000 a year, ”enough to make a difference in the life of a preschool teacher, bank teller, or fast-food worker who today struggles to get by on around $20,000 a year”; and generate $120 billion in higher wages. 

For tipped workers, federal law requires employers to supplement workers’ pay if those workers do not earn enough in tips to attain minimum wage. 

Federal subsidies also encourage companies to continue paying hourly workers starvation wages. The higher the percentage of workers requiring public assistance, the more a company receives in federal aid. This translates to billions of dollars a year from taxpayers.

Just look at Walmart.

Look at McDonald’s.

Paying low-wage workers more actually costs us less in the long run. 

Keeping the poor poor only benefits the rich; it does nothing to boost the economy.

Image credit: www.flickr.com

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Op-Ed News, Liberal Nation Rising, and Zoedune.