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Democrats, With Eye to 2016, Push for $12 Minimum Wage

By    |   Tuesday, 05 May 2015 01:27 PM

Democrats are mounting a new effort in their quest for a minimum wage hike, with party leaders lining up behind legislation that would raise the wage to $12 an hour.

According to The Hill, party leaders are hoping to elevate the issue to the 2016 political agenda with the intention that it will play in favor of Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

"I want to hear what the Republican presidential candidates have to say about this as well," Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said when introducing the legislation last week, according to The Hill.

"I am confident that a Democratic woman running for president knows the importance of this issue," Murray added. "I am not at all confident there is one Republican candidate who will say the same."

The Raise the Wage Act would increase the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, increasing earnings for an estimated 38 million workers. The minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, and an effort to boost it to $10.10 failed when Democrats controlled the Senate.

The measure has little chance of advancing in the Republican-controlled Congress, but polls indicate there is bipartisan support for raising the minimum wage and the president is backing the effort.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who attended the bill's unveiling, said Obama was "enthusiastic" about the bill.

Clinton has also signaled her support for a minimum wage hike, having backed thousands of employees of McDonald's and other fast-food chains who launched wage protests last month. The fast-food giant subsequently announced that it would be raising the average wage to around $10 per hour plus added benefits such as paid vacation.

"Every American deserves a fair shot at success. Fast food & child care workers shouldn't have to march in the streets," Clinton tweeted at the time.

In September, Clinton said that raising the minimum wage is "long overdue," according to The Hill.

Clinton has supported raising the minimum wage as far back at 1996, when she was first lady. As a senator for New York she voted for a pay hike several times and introduced legislation that would have raised the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour while linking it to increases in the salaries of lawmakers, The Hill reported.

Republican presidential hopefuls have been vocal in opposing a wage hike.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said last year that raising the minimum wage would be a "job-killing" disaster and would hit "young people, Hispanics, African-Americans and single moms." 

"The undeniable truth is if the president succeeded in raising the minimum wage, it would cost jobs from the most vulnerable," he said.

Earlier this year, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio signaled his concern about a boost to $10.10 an hour.

"My problem with raising the minimum wage is not that I want to deny someone $10.10," Rubio said according to Bloomberg News. "I'm worried about the people whose wages are going to go down to zero because you've made them more expensive than a machine."

And Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said last summer that the minimum wage is a "temporary" arrangement for young workers who aspire to better careers with higher pay, according to The Hill.

Meanwhile, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has said that the minimum wage should be determined by the private sector and individual states, and in a recent speech he questioned whether the federal government should be determining a wage floor, according to The Hill.

Nevertheless, Democrats are pushing to make it a campaign theme.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said it is "absolutely" important that presidential candidates address the issue on the campaign trail.

"It's a major issue," Reid said, according to The Hill. "If Republicans don't do something about it, it's a major issue."

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Democrats are mounting a new effort in their quest for a minimum wage hike, with party leaders lining up behind legislation that would raise the wage to $12 an hour.
minimum wage, raise, campaign, democrats, patty murray
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 01:27 PM
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