Moral Low Ground

US Government

‘The Moral High Ground’: House Democrats Propose $10/Hour Minimum Wage

A group of Democrats in the House of Representatives has introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour, up from the current paltry $7.25/hour.

The Raw Story reports that Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), the measure’s primary sponsor, titled the bill ‘The Catching Up to 1968 Act’ because adjusted for inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index, the $1.60/hour minimum wage from 44 years ago would equal $10.58/hour today.

“[It] may sound like a hefty wage increase, but it doesn’t fully equal the purchasing power of the minimum wage in 1968,” Jackson said in a statement, “which would today be closer to $11 an hour. The bill is really only allowing American workers a degree of ‘catch-up.'”

Working more, earning less in real dollars.

The last time Congress raised the minimum wage was five years ago, when it was hiked from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. According to Rep. Jackson, that added $1.6 billion in annual increased wages.

“A $10 minimum wage, after years of windfall price increases and executive compensation windfalls at labor’s expense, would annually pump tens of billions of dollars into greater consumer (or aggregate) demand by low-income families in this depressed economy,” Jackson argued in his statement.

“Research has shown no job loss resulting from reasonable minimum wage increases, even when the economy is struggling,” he added. “On the contrary, to fix the underlying weakness of our economy, we must boost aggregate demand and increase the purchasing power of millions of low-wage workers—and one proven and effective way of doing that is to raise the federal minimum wage.”

No state in the US currently has a minimum wage approaching $10/hour. Washington state, which has the nation’s highest minimum wage, mandates hourly pay of at least $9.04. Among major cities, San Francisco leads the way, with a minimum wage adjusted annually for inflation. It currently stands at $10.24.

Other states are actually attempting to lower the minimum wage; witness Florida’s sad attempt to slash the minimum wage for tipped workers from $4.65/hour to $2.13/hour.

‘The Catching Up with 1968 Act’ is unlikely to pass since Republicans control the House. But Democrats deserve praise for attempting to assure that American workers earn something approaching a living wage in exchange for their labor.

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