Minimum wage has become a contentious political issue, even though it has nothing to do with a living wage. Workers are paid for the worth of the job they are paid to do. Nevertheless, Democrats plan to tap into what they perceive as income inequality by using minimum wage as a plank in their populist economic platform heading into the November elections.
It matters not to President Obama that according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (the "government's own bean counter) Obamacare will result in the loss of two-to two-and-a-half million jobs in the years to come, or that on its heels another CBO report notes how President Obama's propose minimum wage hike would cost this nation another half-million jobs.
The Democratic ploy in their election-year playbook to hold Republicans hostage to minimum wage was reinforced by President Bush nationwide, when during his State of the Union address he issued an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for future federal contractors.
And minimum wage continues to be a priority for President Obama. Recently Obama used his weekly address of Saturday, Feb. 22, to cajole Congress into approving a raise in the federal minimum wage that now stands at $7.25 per house, further noting that "while the economy was beginning to recover from the last recession, wages have barely ticked upwards over the past four years."
According to Obama: Raising Americans' wages isn't just a good deed; it's good business and good for our economy. It helps reduce turnover, it boosts productivity, and it gives folks some more money to spend at local businesses.
A day before this weekend's address of Friday, Feb. 21, President Obama pitched the same message at a meeting with members of the Democratic Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, at which Obama admitted that higher pay is not only "good policy, it also happens to be "good politics."
Meanwhile, John Boehner, Republican Speaker of the House, believes it's a job killer. Boehner once said that he would rather commit suicide than vote for a "clean" increase.
President Obama is correct in saying that an overwhelming majority of the American people favors minimum wage hikes. Accordingly, a Quinnipiac poll of Wednesday, January 8th, indicates voters support for raising the federally mandated minimum wage at 72% to 27% percent, with voters still split on what it should be raised to. But despite this overwhelming support, half of the voters (50% to 45%) believe raising the minimum wage would cause businesses to cut jobs.
How then might such an overwhelming support for a minimum wage hike be explained? One explanation: The American people tend to be compassionate in nature when suffering is perceived, and believe it isn't right for a person to work full time and then have to raise their family in poverty.
At the same time there is a dichotomy over concerns expressed for minimum wage workers and what issues Americans care most about. In a recent Gallup poll conducted on what Americans rate as this country's biggest problem, raising the minimum wage didn't make the Top 10. Unemployment and jobs was rated #1, while Poverty came in at #10.
Might, however, the Quinnipiac poll indicating overwhelming support for a minimum wage hike produced different results had those questioned been privy to facts which discount the benefits accrued from increasing the minimum wage for low income workers?
Part 2: FDR and the Minimum Wage; 27 years ago the New York Times got it right; President Johnson's War on Income Equality and over-the-board raises; and why Minimum Wage hikes make all we buy more expensive.