Thursday, Nov. 10, 2005 09:05 pm
They've stiffed us. Again.
Congress rejects a minimum-wage hike again
For the second time this year, Congress said no to an increase in the minimum wage, leaving it — and millions of workers — stuck at the poverty level of $5.15 an hour. That’s $10,500 a year for full-time work. Yes, this is the same Congress that gave itself a pay raise in July, making it seven years in a row that they’ve padded their own paychecks. Yes, this is the same Congress that is determined to stuff another $70 billion worth of tax giveaways into the pockets of the richest Americans. It’s not as though the proposed wage increase was extravagant. It would only have raised the minimum to $6.25 an hour, which is still a poverty wage of less than $13,000 a year for full-time work. It’s also not as though the proposal was out of step with public opinion. To the contrary, a whopping 86 percent of Americans favor increasing the minimum wage! The proposal fell nine votes short of the 60 needed to pass it in the U.S. Senate. The Republican leadership killed the proposal, wailing that it would hurt business. U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming led the attack, declaring: “Mandated hikes in the minimum wage do not cure poverty, and they clearly do not create jobs.” Actually, Sen. Enzi, they can cure poverty for those workers stuck in such low-wage work, and, because even a small boost in purchasing power means more spending on everything from meals to car repairs, they do create jobs. But the minimum wage is not merely about economics — it’s an ethical test, too. This is our nation’s wage floor, a declaration that there’s a moral level of pay below which we will not let our people fall. Senate leaders failed the ethical test and failed our country.