This Labor Day, there should be no confusion for Republicans as to why Americans are fed up with their economic policies and are looking for a change.  A recent Census Bureau report shows that 37 million Americans are living in poverty, and the number of those living in the category of extreme poverty has risen sharply.  The data also reveals that income from earned wages fell in 2005 when compared to 2004.  This is the second straight year in a row that wages have dropped for men, and the third consecutive year wages have fallen for women.

In simple terms, the report shows that more families are living paycheck to paycheck, unable to save for college for their kids or afford health insurance.  Americans are increasingly concerned that the American dream will not come true for their families and that their children will not have it better than they did.

Democrats believe that hard work should be rewarded with fair pay, and one way to ensure that is by increasing the minimum wage.  Congress has not raised the minimum wage since 1997 and, consequently, it is at its lowest level in fifty years (when adjusted for inflation).  A full-time minimum wage worker earns only $10,700, which is dramatically below the poverty line for a family of four.

The time has come for Congress to raise the minimum wage.  Democrats believe that an increase from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over two years is a reasonable increase.  In the wealthiest nation on earth, it is simply unconscionable that hardworking Americans do not make enough money to meet their families most basic needs.  Democrats are committed to a new direction for our country that will raise the minimum wage and bring Americans who work hard and play by the rules out of the grip of poverty.