Sanders Calls for Minimum Wage to Be Raised to at Least $17 an Hour

In his new function because the chair of the highly effective Senate Well being, Training, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is asking for the minimal wage to be raised for the primary time in practically 14 years, saying that the outdated benchmark of $15 an hour is now not sufficient.

On MSNBC on Sunday, Sanders mentioned that it’s time for the federal minimal wage to be raised to a minimum of $17 an hour, if no more. This may be practically 2.5 instances the present federal minimal wage of $7.25 an hour, which was set in 2009.

“A few years in the past, we fought to lift the minimal wage to $15. Because of inflation, in actual {dollars}, that must be a minimum of $17 proper now,” Sanders instructed MSNBC’s Ali Velshi.

“Right here’s the underside line: you’ve bought over 60 p.c of the folks on this nation dwelling paycheck to paycheck, tens of hundreds of thousands are working at hunger wages,” he continued. “It isn’t an excessive amount of to ask the wealthiest nation on Earth the place we now have large earnings and wealth inequality, folks on prime doing phenomenally properly, to say that in America, for those who’re working 40 hours every week, you’re not dwelling in poverty.”

In 2021, Sanders and progressive lawmakers fought to have a provision rising the minimal wage to $15 an hour included within the Democrats’ funds reconciliation invoice. However the provision was dropped from the bundle as a consequence of uniform opposition from Republicans and figures like Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona), and unwillingness from Democrats to overrule the Senate parliamentarian who dominated that the minimal wage wasn’t sufficiently associated to the federal funds.

Due to extraordinarily excessive inflation charges over the previous 12 months, $15 is about equal to $17 now. In actual fact, $15 an hour was already inadequate in 2021, many activists mentioned; staff have been waging the “Battle for $15” since 2012, and analysis done in 2021 by the Nationwide Low Revenue Housing Coalition (NLIHC) discovered {that a} employee making $15 an hour working 40 hours every week wouldn’t be capable of afford to lease a mean two bed room condominium in any state within the U.S.

If the minimal wage had risen with productiveness in previous many years, maybe higher reflecting staff’ contributions to the financial system, the minimal wage can be over $23 now, economists say. If it had risen on the identical charge that Wall Road worker bonuses have risen because the Eighties, in the meantime, it could be $61.75 per hour.

“The worth of housing has soared in recent times. In case you’re a mean employee, my god, you’re paying $1,500 a month to place a roof over your head and your baby’s head,” Sanders mentioned. “The underside line is — this isn’t sophisticated — you’ve bought an financial system proper now that’s doing nice, improbable, for the 1 p.c. How about creating an financial system that works for bizarre Individuals? Meaning you elevate the minimal wage to a dwelling wage.”

With Congress dragging its toes on elevating the minimal wage, the present worth of the minimal wage is extraordinarily low. The Financial Coverage Institute (EPI) discovered final July that the worth of the federal minimal wage has declined by 27 p.c because it was established in 2009, reaching its lowest level since 1956. This has an impact not solely on staff who’re paid minimal wage, but additionally across the economy, as the worth of the minimal wage has ripple effects throughout staff whose wages aren’t immediately depending on the federal threshold.

It’s unlikely that Republicans will go laws to lift the minimal wage any time quickly, because the get together is presently engaged on plans to place even much less cash within the palms of the working class. On this second, nonetheless, Sanders mentioned that it’s important for Democrats to introduce laws that places on show the cruelties of the Republican agenda.

Although Home Republicans are discussing slicing Social Safety, Sanders instructed Velshi that he plans to introduce laws this week that might improve Social Safety funds by making certain that the wealthiest Individuals pay a share of their incomes that’s equal to what the remainder of the nation pays into this system.

“I believe our job within the Senate is to place concrete concepts on the desk that the American folks will say, ‘yeah, we should always elevate minimal wage. Sure, we should always elevate the advantages for low earnings seniors and enhance the solvency of Social Safety,’” Sanders mentioned. “I believe if we do our job, folks will see the distinction between severe legislating and what goes on within the Home.”