Minimum wage approaches likely Senate rejection

January poll found public supports minimum wage increase by 55 percent to 21 percent, but Republicans oppose it 39 percent to 32 percent
Associated Press
Apr 29, 2014

The push by President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage seems ready to join the parade of issues that gets buried in Congress but — the party hopes — propels voters to the polls this November.

Immigration. Renewing expired jobless benefits. Tighter curbs on guns. All of them Obama priorities. All of them attracting some Republican support. And all of them tripped up, at least for now, by GOP opposition.

And now, a bill by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, boosting today's $7.25 hourly minimum in three steps until it hits $10.10 as soon as 2016. His minimum wage bill is widely expected to join that list Wednesday, when the Senate seems poised to vote on it. Though it should win backing from nearly all of the 53 Democrats and two Democratic-leaning independents, few if any Republicans are expected to join them, leaving them shy of the needed 60 votes.

Democrats are aware of its likely fate. But they also know that according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, women and young people make up disproportionate portions of the 3.3 million people who earned $7.25 or less last year. Both groups traditionally tilt toward Democrats, who would love to lure them to the polls this fall as they fight to retain Senate control.

"It's a powerful motivator for voters in the Democratic base who are a focal point of Democratic efforts to turn out voters in the midterm elections," Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin said of the minimum wage push.

Senate Republicans have scant political incentive to support the measure.

The GOP's business allies oppose the increase, saying it drive up employers' costs. Republican lawmakers have buttressed that argument with a February study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which estimated the $10.10 increase would eliminate around 500,000 jobs — though it also concluded that earnings would rise for at least 16.5 million low-paid workers.

Republican voters also give GOP senators little reason to back the increase.

An Associated Press-GfK Poll in January found that while the public supports a minimum wage increase by 55 percent to 21 percent, Republicans oppose it by 39 percent to 32 percent. For tea party voters — who GOP senators hope will vote in large numbers this November — the gap is 43 percent against an increase and 28 percent for it.

To counter Democratic arguments that they are clueless about today's harsh economic realities, Republicans say the priority should be finding ways to create jobs with steps like reducing taxes and regulations on companies.

"You can try to wave a magic wand and artificially" increase wages, said Republican pollster David Winston. Instead, he said, the GOP is reaching out to voters "who'd like to be earning more money and really think the economy needs to be turned around."

Both sides' constituencies oppose compromising on a lower figure, including the AFL-CIO, which backs an increase, and the National Federation of Independent Business, which opposes one. That makes a bipartisan deal even less likely, at least before the elections.

That means the battle will probably produce little more than fodder for campaign advertising. Both sides' lobbying reflects the low odds of a law being enacted, with scant advertising and few signs of all-out campaigns that typify major Washington battles.

"This is largely seen as a campaign action, and not an effort to legislate" minimum wage changes, said Scott DeFife, top lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association.

The pressure for congressional action is further reduced by the states — 21 have minimum wages above $7.25. Five have enacted increases so far in 2014, and 29 others are considering boosts. By law, workers covered by both the federal and a state's minimum wage are entitled to the higher amount.

As much as Democrats hope the minimum wage vote will spur support from women and young voters, history shows there are no guarantees they will benefit.

Women account for more than 6 in 10 people earning the current minimum wage or less. And in midterm elections since the 1970s, exit polls of voters show women have tilted toward Democratic congressional candidates by an average of 7 percentage points.

But in a cautionary note to Democrats, that's not set in concrete: Women split about evenly in 2010, when Republicans took over the House.

Nearly half of people earning minimum wage or less are under age 25, even though they represent just a fifth of people working for hourly pay.

Younger voters have leaned toward Democrats by an average 7 percentage points since the 1970s. The margin has been even greater since 2004, when their preference for Democrats has been by double-digit percentage points.

Young people, however, aren't stalwart voters in midterm elections. They have averaged just 6 percent of voters in those elections, compared to the 10 percent of the overall population that 18- to 24-year-olds represent.

The Democratic bill would raise the federal minimum to $8.20 six months after enactment, $9.15 after an additional year and $10.10 a year after that. The minimum would then automatically increase annually with inflation.

It would also gradually boost the $2.13 minimum for tipped workers like waiters to 70 percent of the full minimum wage.

Comments

downthemiddle

chongo... my apologies... question was meant for the 11:01 empty coaster..

anthras

Re:I recently read that worker productivity has gone up 80% since 1980, yet wages have only gone up 9%."

Do you really think that the workers are actually producing 80% more on their own because they are working 80% harder or faster or do you feel that maybe the businesses have invested a several billion dollars in computerized machinery and other technical items that allow the increased productivity ? If you knew anything about automation I do not think you would have stated what you did.

Nor'easter

According to CNN this morning only 72.8 % employment participation; which leaves 27.2% actually unemployed. Figures don't lie, but our politicians are definitely the liars that figure claiming 6.3% unemployment. If you have run out of unemployment benefits or don't have enough hours to qualify, you are not counted as unemployed. Tell that to the those that are going without supper or medications.

deertracker

Get a clue chongo!

chongo

Dear deertracker, I do have a clue. It's call pride in ones work, respect for ones work, and the drive to do better EVERY DAY, EVERY JOB. With that you will succeed.

ohioengineer

Chongo makes an excellent point that always gets buried in the rhetoric about fairness: that is the minimum wage was never intended to provide a 40-year career for someone to raise a family on. It is a starting point to allow new and unskilled workers to enter the workforce and learn. As these workers learn and take on more responsibility, their value to their employer grows and that employer will be forced - not by law, but by economics - to increase the wages paid to that employee. If not, the worker can and should take his/her new skills into the marketplace to find a better job that pays more. That is how America has worked for 250 years and that is what has made us the envy of the rest of the world.

The Big Dog's back

According to who was minimum wage never was intended to provide a 40 year career?

grumpy

Re: "According to who was minimum wage never was intended to provide a 40 year career?"

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is the mindset of the left wingnuts. They think that a minimum wage, entry level job should be able to support a person if not a family for 40 years and then have enough to retire on. No need to learn a trade, get an education, show any ambition, just show up and stumble through life doing as little as possible. This is the modern day Liberal Progressive Democrat point of view... in all its glory.

Thank you again for being an example.

The Big Dog's back

So pooh, you just called everyone who makes minimum wage a worthless piece of crap. Now that is the mindset of a right wingnut.

grumpy

....

grumpy

No, I am saying that anyone who stays in a minimum wage job for a 40 year career is... unless they are handicapped in some way... and that is a small minority that can't get better jobs. But them that is your narrow minded way of looking at the world. It is not all or none... There is little all white or all black,it is mostly gray.

The Big Dog's back

We all know what you said pooh. Showing your true self again.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Who is this "we"? You are showing your obtuse logic in expecting the minimum wage to be a lifetime employment opportunity. Though tell you what, I'll take you up on your offer. Why don't we help you start your own business where you can pay $15/hr. to everyone with benefits doing beginner-level work. We'll come up with a business plan together and pitch it to RISE or some other organization such as the SBA or a bank. You must know how to accomplish this task since you are so steadfast on its possibility at all let alone immediate implementation.

When can we meet? I want in on this.

anthras

Re"According to who was minimum wage never was intended to provide a 40 year career?"

Not who but I think maybe common sense would dictate that fact. Of course maybe many minimum wage persons do not understand that if they do obtain a minimum wage job it does not prevent them from looking for a better higher paying job and if they find one it does not prevent them from looking for an even a higher paying job. I think that is called having ambition to do better.

Informed

You do realize that in these times there are college-educated people making minimum wage or barely above?
And if a free market, and a free market alone was going to dictate wages, people would be making what they make in third world countries because the billionaires would all collude. It's happened before (the baby formula scandal that somehow got swept under the rug a few years ago).

grumpy

Yoiu do realize that those that are college-ediucated won't stay in a minimum wage job for 40 years? That piddles said that minimum wage workers sholud be able to make a career out of making minimum wage? As I said minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs. Or are you now saying that those college educated folks working minimum wage jobs will never get better paying jobs? Try to read and process the whole post instead of one sentence out of the post. Take the whole post in context instead of just one sentence. It tends to work better to see the whole picture. Thanks.

The Big Dog's back

We know what you said pooh. Anyone making minimum wage is a lowlife according to you. Don't back track now. Have the stones to stand by what you said.

grumpy

As I said anyone making a 40 year career as a minimum wage earner is. Short of those handicapped in some way. Much as you are with your narrow minded all or nothing view of life. Sad to see people actually believing everything is black or white, when most of the world is shades of gray. Typical Progressive Liberal left wingnut Democrat. Thank you for continuing to be an example.

downthemiddle

Outside of politics, individual Republicans simply want to be left alone and not impose their will on anyone. Nothing we do has a negative effect on anyone. We operate businesses, engage in trade, and pay what the market dictates. The only thing we want to buy from the gov't is national defense and public safety. The less government, the better.

downthemiddle

By the way... have you heard that Toyota Headquarters is moving 4000 jobs out of California and going to Texas? They certainly paid above minimum wage...

Would anyone care to guess why they are doing this?

The Big Dog's back

Who cares? Just a bunch of suits moving from 3 states to texa@@. Would have made more sense to move to Kentucky.

Darwin's choice

Probably all whom are losing their jobs, azzhat!

Pete

The Moocher Party is in trouble. Their Messiah has hit an all-time low:

"Obama’s approval rating fell to 41 percent, down from 46 percent through the first three months of the year and the lowest of his presidency in Post-ABC News polls. Just 42 percent approve of his handling of the economy, 37 percent approve of how he is handling the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and 34 percent approve of his handling of the situation involving Ukraine and Russia."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/po...

Dr. Information

Obama has been in the dumper since the 1st day he took office. Its been a downward spiral from the get go.

This is what happens when you elect someone on popularity rather that his actual experience.

Darwin's choice

Now, he did vote "present" while attendence was being taken...

KURTje

Here's an answer. MAKE ALL elected officials take pay & medical cuts. We are burdened & they are over compensated.

pntbutterandjelly

Here's a question, "Are there pay increase schedules for our Congressmen/women or...how is their compensation increased?"

SamAdams

Members of Congress receive raises by voting themselves raises. Nice work if you can get it, eh?

grumpy

Actually they pass pay raises for the next Congress to be seated that can't be stopped unless they make a vote to stop it, they don't want to pass their own raise so they do it for the next congress... and then 95% are-elected and get the raise. A difference that is meaningless. That is your Congress.

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