As the Trump presidency drags on, those on the left continue to distinguish themselves through their attention to the needs of those otherwise left behind. This week, popular progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in support of raising the federal minimum wage to better reflect the modern value of work and the needs of the workers — which you’d hope wouldn’t be controversial, but Republicans have consistently aligned themselves with business interests seeking to cut costs and max-out profits.
‘Croissants at LaGuardia are going for SEVEN DOLLARS A PIECE. Yet some people think getting a whole hour of personal, dedicated human labor for $15 is too expensive??’
It’s true — Republicans have consistently pushed back against the continual Democratic push for what many call the “living wage” alternative to the “starvation wage” currently enshrined in federal minimum wage legislation, which pegs minimum wages at $7.25 an hour, an amount that was last updated in 2009. In the time since, the amount has lost about 15 percent of its purchasing power thanks to forces like inflation.
Democrats sought to address this issue as one of their first steps in the newest Congress, introducing legislation in early January to raise the wage to $15 through gradual, annual spikes until 2024. Although the bill — which would have also eliminated an allowance for some businesses to pay young and disabled workers less than the mandated minimum — had hundreds of co-sponsors across the two chambers of Congress, Republicans didn’t get on board.
Still, the legislation did attract the support of possible next presidents like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who’s consistently among the top few candidates in polls measuring support in the Democratic presidential primary field. Ocasio-Cortez’s vision of an America where hourly workers are treated with at least as much respect as two croissants at New York’s La Guardia Airport may be on the horizon.
In the meantime, Republicans continue to actively assert their opposition to the progressive agenda she, Sanders, and others stand for. Early in his presidency, Trump signed into law a massive tax reform package that sparked a freefall in collected corporate taxes but little to no change in taxes collected from the “little guy.” The Trump team’s arguments that the tax cuts would pay for themselves via the corporate savings going into investments haven’t proven remotely accurate. The federal deficit and debt are still climbing.
Raising the minimum wage would take the exact opposite approach to boosting the economy via putting money in the hands of everyday people across the country who could actually spend it.
House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) asserted along with his party’s early January minimum wage legislation:
‘Raising the minimum wage is not only good for workers, it is good for businesses, and good for the economy. When we put money in the pockets of American workers, they will spend that money in their communities. This bill is a stimulus for Main Street America.’
At the time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) added:
‘We will open up opportunities for working families and drive economic growth that lifts up all communities – because our economy works best when it works for everyone, not just the wealthy and privileged few.’
Some jurisdictions have already taken the idea to heart — California is in the process of adopting a $15 an hour minimum wage through yearly increases of $1. The distinction further establishes what’s at stake heading into the 2020 elections.
Check out Twitter’s response to the Congresswoman… including Republicans losing it that she dared criticize outlandishly priced airport food and low wages.
Featured Image via screenshot