A wave of terror is certainly spreading through the Republican Party as President Obama has embraced the politically popular issue of raising the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.
We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages. But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong. That’s why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, nineteen states have chosen to bump theirs even higher.
Tonight, 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. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. In fact, working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher. So here’s an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.
The only thing that Republicans hate more than the minimum wage is a call to increase the minimum wage. The reason why Republicans hate the minimum wage as a political issue is that it is incredibly popular. The minimum wage is a gigantic winning issue for Democrats. When the minimum wage is on the ballot, Democrats win.
Rachel Maddow pointed out in 2010 that nothing gets Democrats to the polls more than the minimum wage, “If you had a secret decoder ring for democratic electoral success, the minimum wage is what your ring decodes to. Whenever minimum wage is on the ballot, it blows up. In 2006, minimum wage initiative passed in Nevada by 38 points. Minimum measure in Arizona passed by 32 points. Two years earlier one passed in Florida by 44 points. Montana, Montana! Democratic senator Jon Tester of Montana elected in 2006, when was that minimum wage ballot initiative ballot wage on the ballot? 2006. This is the code for Democrats. When minimum wage is an issue, not only does it win, Democrats win alongside issue, too. Quoting Congressional Quarterly, “In 2006, voter motivation and reported interest in the election was disproportionately high among democratic-based voters, especially where minimum wage initiatives were in play.”
Obama is going to be heavily involved in helping Democrats in their attempt to retake the House in 2014, and his centerpiece issue in that campaign looks like it will be the minimum wage.
House Republicans are already scared out of their minds that Obama is coming after them in 2014, and tonight, he just gave House Democratic candidates the issue that could win them an election.