Bernie Sanders responded to the moves by California and New York to raise their minimum wages to $15/hour by promising to fight for a federal $15/hour minimum wage if he wins the White House. Sanders is the only presidential candidate who supports this position.
In a statement, Sen. Sanders said:
I’m proud that today two of our largest states will be increasing the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour – raising the wages of some 9 million workers in this country. Not too long ago, the establishment told us that a $15 minimum wage was unrealistic. Some thought it was ‘pie-in-the-sky.’ But a grassroots movement led by millions of working people refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. Loudly and clearly workers said, ‘yes we can increase the minimum wage, not just to $10.10 an hour, not just to $12 an hour, but to a living wage of $15 an hour.’
This campaign is about building on these successes so that everyone in this country can enjoy the dignity and basic economic security that comes from a living wage, no matter what state they live in. That includes ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers and persons with disabilities.
New York is also joining California, New Jersey and Rhode Island in guaranteeing paid family leave. In my view, we must go further by passing the Gillibrand-DeLauro FAMILY Act to guarantee 12 weeks of paid family leave to every worker in America. Secretary Clinton opposes this bill. She believes that a $1.61 a week payroll tax on the average worker is too high a price to pay for this legislation. I disagree.
“As president, I will proudly stand with working families all across our country and fight for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and provide paid family leave to every worker in America. Together, we can rebuild the middle class in this country, reduce poverty, raise wages, combat soaring income and wealth inequality and create millions of jobs.
The minimum wage is one issue where there is a big difference of opinion between the two Democratic presidential candidates.
During the Iowa Democratic debate in November 2015, Clinton expressed support for a $12/hour federal minimum wage, but was skeptical about going to $15, “However what Alan Krueger said in the piece you’re referring to is that if we went to $15.00 there are no international comparisons. That is why I support a $12.00 national federal minimum wage. That is what the Democrats in the Senate have put forward as a proposal. But I do believe that is a minimum. And places like Seattle, like Los Angeles, like New York City, they can go higher.”
On the Republican side, Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he believes that wages are too high. Ted Cruz consistently spreads the lie that raising the minimum wage will cost people their jobs. Cruz even voted to block a bill to increase the minimum wage in the Senate. Here was John Kasich’s answer on the campaign trail when he was asked if he supports raising the federal minimum wage, “No, no. No, no, no, no.”
Here is how the candidates stack up. Bernie Sanders supports a $15/hour minimum wage. Hillary Clinton supports a $12/hour minimum wage. Ted Cruz and John Kasich oppose raising the federal minimum wage, and Donald Trump wants to lower wages.
For voters who are concerned about making the minimum wage a living wage, Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate in either party who has promised to fight for a national $15 minimum wage.