Bernie Sanders Is Once Again Trying to Raise the Minimum Wage

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is embarking on his newest marketing campaign to lift the federal minimal wage, organising a possible legislative battle that would drive conservative members of the Democratic caucus who voted in opposition to elevating the minimal wage to shift or defend their place as they search reelection.

In 2021, the Home handed laws to lift the minimal from $7.25 to $15 an hour, however it failed within the Senate regardless of a slim Democratic majority. 5 of the eight Democratic caucus members who voted in opposition to the measure should both run for reelection in 2024 or retire after their present time period, together with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona), Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) and Sen. John Tester (D-Montana).

Thus far, solely Tester has introduced a reelection bid, according to Roll Name, however there’s nonetheless loads of time earlier than the marketing campaign season heats up. Progressives have vowed to launch main challenges in opposition to lawmakers who rejected elevating the minimal wage, which could be very widespread amongst voters. Sinema left the Democratic Social gathering in December however might nonetheless face a Democrat who helps a minimal wage hike if she chooses to run within the common election.

Senate Republicans unanimously opposed the 2021 minimal wage invoice, however solely 10 Republicans will likely be up for reelection in 2024, when Democrats will likely be defending 23 seats to protect their razor-thin majority. Nonetheless, if Senate Democrats unite behind elevating the minimal wage, it might simply turn out to be a prime marketing campaign difficulty for hammering Republicans.

The federal minimal wage has been caught at a measly $7.25 an hour since 2009, an especially low wage floor in comparison with different wealthy nations and fewer than half the estimated $16 an hour that one grownup with no youngsters wants to fulfill the fundamental prices of dwelling within the common giant metropolis. A minimal wage paycheck misplaced 27 percent of its buying energy since 2009 and is now price much less in actual wages than at any cut-off date since 1956, in line with the Financial Coverage Institute.

In different phrases, a minimal wage earner might afford to purchase extra groceries or college provides 60 years in the past than they’ll as we speak. In the meantime, rich households have seen their incomes balloon as incomes for low- and middle-income households stagnated. CEO pay in america rose by a staggering 1,322 p.c between 1978 and 2020 whereas pay for the standard employee grew by simply 18 p.c.

In the present day, company income are hovering to all-time highs as 60 percent of People dwell paycheck to paycheck, as Sanders identified in a recent op-ed at The Guardian.

“Congress can not ignore the wants of the working class of this nation,” Sanders wrote. “At a time of huge and rising revenue and wealth inequality and record-breaking company income, we should get up for working households — lots of whom are struggling on daily basis to supply a minimal lifestyle for his or her households.”

Sanders has mentioned the federal minimal wage ought to be at the least $17 an hour, and the senator is predicted to announce recent laws in a press convention with economists and union leaders on Could 4. The wage hike would probably be instituted steadily over the course of a number of years to permit time for companies to adapt.

Sanders admits in his op-ed that even $17 isn’t a living wage — sufficient to afford primary dwelling prices resembling meals and lease — in lots of components of the nation. This contains his dwelling state of Vermont, the place $19 is taken into account a dwelling wage for a family with one baby and two working adults, however the statewide minimal wage is barely $13 an hour. In Louisiana, the place the minimal wage is $7.25, an grownup in the same family should earn $18 an hour to make ends meet.

As Congress stalls, states and cities throughout the nation have raised the minimal wage, however the wage flooring continues to be locked in at $7.25 an hour in 20 largely purple states. In 26 states, conservatives responded to native pushes for wage hikes by passing “preemption” legal guidelines that forestall cities and counties from elevating the minimal wage inside their borders, even in city areas the place the price of dwelling is way greater than the remainder of the state.

A decrease wage flooring means much less pay for all low-wage employees, and employees are 46 p.c extra more likely to make lower than $15 an hour in states that haven’t raised the minimal wage in contrast to people who have, in line with the Financial Coverage Institute. A latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll discovered that two-thirds of People help elevating the minimal wage, together with 71 p.c of youthful employees.

Sanders argues that the state-level politics round elevating the minimal wage present that the problem cuts throughout partisan strains and will sway swing voters in upcoming elections. Poll initiatives to lift the minimal wage in 12 states — New Jersey, South Dakota, Arkansas, Alaska, Washington, Maine, Colorado, Arizona, Missouri, Florida, Nevada and Nebraska — succeeded with 55 p.c of the vote or extra during the last decade, in line with Sanders.

“And these are usually not simply sturdy ‘blue states’ voting for financial justice,” Sanders wrote. “Within the latest November 2022 midterm election, two states that voted in Republican governors, Nebraska and Nevada, voted to lift the minimal wage. In 2020, the residents of Florida, with a Republican governor and two Republican senators, additionally voted to lift the minimal wage to $15 an hour.”

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