A proposed federal minimum wage increase – from the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour – seems increasingly unlikely to make it to the House floor for a vote in 2014. A recent CNN report suggests Democrats are raising the issue more in hopes of raising political capital headed into the 2014 midterm elections than for any real hope that Congress will pass the bill this year.
Republicans in Congress are quick to point out their belief that Democrats are playing politics with the prospect of a federal minimum wage increase. Some Republicans have suggested that they’re open to discussing an increase, especially if the legislation is coupled with job creating measures. According to a Politico report, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said, “If they want truly to get something done, then a compromise is possible. If people want to just play politics with the issue, then obviously a compromise wouldn’t succeed.”
The same report quotes a skeptical Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) as saying, “They want the political issue. Just check the box: Now we’ve got them on record.”
Adam Kinzinger, a Republican congressman from Illinois, takes it a step further and suggests the Democrats are trying to use the proposed increase as a distraction from the real issue ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. According to CNN, Rep. Kinzinger said, “I also really recognize that all the Democrats are trying to do is go like look the shiny red ball – look over here while we have a terrible economy.”
Pres. Barack Obama, who many Americans believe has lost a lot of respect among other world leaders, but who has a long history of supporting a federal minimum wage increase, has repeatedly voiced support for the bill. CBS News reports the president saying:
Right now, there’s a bill before Congress that would boost America’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. That bill would lift wages for more than 16 million Americans without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending. But even though a majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans across the country support raising the minimum wage, Republicans in Congress don’t want to give it a vote. Hardworking Americans deserve better than ‘no,’ Let’s tell Congress to say ‘yes.’ Pass that bill. Give America a raise. Because here in America, no one who works hard should have to live in poverty – and everyone who works hard should have a chance to get ahead.
Democrats argue that a $10.10 per hour wage would ensure that those who work full time are able to live above the poverty level. Republicans suggest that a federal minimum wage increase of that much would represent the largest hike in the history of the minimum wage and is likely to cost half a million jobs.
What do you think? Would raising the federal minimum wage in 2014 help the economy or stagger it? Are the Democrats genuinely trying to help the poor or are they just playing the proposed federal minimum wage increase for leverage in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections?