By Ramsey Cox
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) used the popular children’s book series “Ramona” in calling for a federal increase in the minimum wage on Tuesday.
Blumenthal pointed out that the minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with the cost of living in America since 1968, when the book “Ramona and Her Father” was published. In the book, Ramona’s father makes the minimum wage of $1.68 an hour as a grocery store checker.
“Today, the idea of minimum wage enabling a family to stay afloat is fiction,” Blumenthal said with a poster of the book cover behind him on the Senate floor. “It would be impossible because today the minimum wage has failed to keep pace with inflation.”
On Wednesday, the Senate is expected to vote on whether to proceed to a bill that would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour over two years.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) authored the Fair Minimum Wage Act, S. 2223, which also increases over six years the tipped minimum wage from $2.13 an hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage. Further wage increases would be indexed to inflation.
Democrats will need at least five Republicans to join them to overcome the first 60-vote threshold hurdle.
But Republicans have argued that Harkin’s bill would harm job growth, citing a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that says the bill would cost the economy nearly 1 million jobs.
Democrats are insisting on the $10.10 an hour wage because it would lift full-time workers out of poverty.
“No one who works full-time should be so poor they can’t put food on the table,” Blumenthal said. “Or to give their daughters pink erasers as a gift, as Ramona’s father did in the book.”
Beverly Cleary wrote the famous book series that follows a precocious young girl, Ramona Quimby, who is growing up in a working class family.