Finally America Is Getting a Raise

Finally.  After 10 long years, it looks as though low-wage workers in this country are on the road to receiving a raise.  I commend the new leaders of the House of Representatives for righting a big wrong – and passing a minimum wage increase in the opening days of this Congress.

At a time when all working people are struggling to make ends meet, our nation’s lowest-paid workers are long overdue for a raise.  Republican leaders of the last Congress repeatedly blocked increases with poison pill amendments, including tax breaks to business and even rollbacks of worker protections such as overtime pay.

But last night, our new Congress listened to what working Americans said last November.  Congress heard working people’s call for change and they acted swiftly to give our nation’s low-wage workers relief.

Unfortunately, President Bush has called for a minimum wage raise only if coupled with even more tax breaks for business.  But business has enjoyed hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts since Bush took office adding to our soaring budget deficit, while vital issues for working families like health care, secure retirements and the minimum wage have been all but ignored.  In the last 10 years, in fact, the Republican-led Congress provided corporations with $276 billion in tax cuts and provided small businesses with another $36 billion in dedicated tax breaks.  Meanwhile, more working Americans fell into poverty, our middle class shrank and the ranks of those without health insurance skyrocketed.

An increase in pay for America’s lowest paid workers should not have to depend on even more payoffs to business.  I call on Senators – Republicans and Democrats alike – to reject corporate poison pills and vote for a fair, long overdue raise in the minimum wage.  America’s workers deserve a clean vote on a $7.25 minimum wage, with no strings attached.
Last night, House leaders stepped forward to fulfill their mandate for change.  Now it’s the Senate’s turn to act.