Senate Democrats are meeting today and are preparing to drop a bomb on Republicans. They are going to push for raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour by 2015.
According to The Hill:
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is spearheading the push to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour but not all Democrats are yet on board.
Harkin said Wednesday he is not certain whether all 55 members of the Democratic caucus would back his proposal, which would also raise the minimum rate in jobs that rely on tips to 70 percent of the standard minimum wage.
“There are different views on proceeding to it, as an amendment, as a direct bill, how do you do it,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to figure out.”
Harkin said one of the goals of the meeting is to find out how many fellow Democrats will back the bill.
“There are some who may want to add something to it, put something else on it, which other people would not want,” he said. “I think people deserve a clean-cut bill. Raise the minimum wage.”
The Harkin proposal would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour through 3 annual ninety five cent an hour increases. This isn’t about passing a bill though the Senate. What Democrats are doing is laying the groundwork for a potent campaign issue in 2014 and 2016. Chris Christie marched to a big reelection, but he saw his opposition to increasing the minimum wage steamrolled by New Jersey voters who overwhelmingly voted to increase the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour.
The minimum wage issue also gives Democrats a path towards addressing income inequality. In March the sponsor of the House version of The Minimum Wage Act of 2013, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said, “Income inequality is one of the greatest threats to America’s long-term economic vitality, yet we are widening that inequality with wages that subject people to live in poverty. Even during a so-called ‘golden age of corporate profits,’ millions of working families are falling behind because their paychecks aren’t keeping up. That’s immoral and that’s undermining our economy.”
There is zero statistical evidence that raising the minimum wage hurts the economy or kills jobs. The Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage has always been based more in ideology than reality. Politically, this issue is a major winner for Democrats.
What Harkin and the Democrats are trying to put forward is a plan to make raising the minimum wage a part of the 2014 election. Earlier this year, President Obama came out in support of increasing the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. What the Senate Democrats are discussing would go further and make the minimum wage a living wage for many parts of the country.
Republicans are already reeling after the government shutdown, and a bad 2013 election night. Republicans may want to talk about Obamacare, but if Democrats have their way, it will be issues the minimum wage that will get voters to the polls. Republicans look like they don’t see it coming, but Democrats could have a big 2014 election if they run on raising the minimum wage.