Striking a blow against low-wage American workers, Maine’s GOP Senator Susan Collins signaled her opposition to a plan to raise the nation’s minimum wage to 10.10 an hour, likely dooming the bills chances of reaching a vote in the U.S Senate. Although the bill has the expected support of almost every Senate Democrat (52 out of 53 with Mark Pryor of Arkansas being the one possible exception) and both Senate Independents (Maine’s Angus King and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders) it lacks any Republican support. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee is the only Senate Republican who plans to allow the bill to come up for a vote, although he intends to ultimately vote down the measure.
Collins, who the media is fond of describing as a “moderate” Senator, has aligned herself with right-wing opposition to a pay raise for America’s low wage workers. The Harkin bill that she opposes would raise the minimum wage in steps to a modest 10.10 an hour by 2016. The bill also would boost the minimum wage for tipped employees from a paltry 2.13 an hour to a more substantial 7.07 hourly rate by 2016.
Collins’ choice to side with the right-wing of the Republican Party further illustrates the complete collapse of the centrist wing of the GOP over the past decade. New England moderates once held several seats in the Senate, and could sometimes be counted on to vote for legislation that helped working class Americans. Collins herself has voted for some minimum wage increases in the past, but increasingly she has abandoned any pretense of moderation, choosing instead to vote the party line and stick it to the American worker.
The moderate label should no longer be applied to the right-wing Senator from Maine. In addition, voters of Maine who have consistently given Collins the benefit of the doubt in the past, should seek to replace her with a Senator who will work towards giving the underpaid workers of the nation a pay raise. Maine voters seeking change should look to remove Collins from office in November and to replace her with Democrat Shanna Bellows, a candidate who they can count on to represent the interest of hardworking Americans in the Senate.