Minimum Wage

Securing The Homeland For Minimum Wage

After September 11th, businesses started to place steeper demands on the capabilities of private security guards, many of which make the minimum wage or just a little more.

Congress Passes Minimum Wage Increase In War Bill

Buried in the Iraq War Funding Bill, a practice I strongly disagree with, was a measure to raise the Federal Minimum Wage.

Minimum Wage Increase Blocked In Senate

In an effort to demonstrate lack of support for the House bill in its current state, Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, called for a vote to end debate on the bill. The vote failed 54-43; 60 votes was required to end debate. Such "cloture" votes are required in the Senate.

The issue is one of tax break incentives desired by president Bush to offset the harm Republicans feel a minimum wage increase will cause to small businesses. Senate Republicans used their ability to block cloture to stop the bill's consideration.

The stickiest issue here, as I understand it, is that any tax related measure must, constitutionally, begin in the house. It is not sufficient for the Senate to pass an altered version and bring the two bills together in conference. Note that the story linked below says otherwise.

House Passes Minimum Wage Hike With Veto-Proof Majority

Just hours before president Bush's address to the nation on Iraq, the House of Representatives delivered on another of Nancy Pelosi's 100 Hours initiatives. The bill easily passed on veto-proof 315-116 vote that included 82 republicans voting along with the democratic majority.

The minimum wage, under this bill, would go from $5.15 to $7.25 over the next two years. If the bill becomes law, the minimum wage hike will go as follows:

110th Congress First Hundred Hours Summary

When the 110th Congress begins its session today, incoming speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has an agenda for the first 100 hours of the session. Over the next two weeks, a broad range of issues of importance to the majority of Americans will be acted upon. Below is a summary, with links to more in-depth analysis from earlier apathy.net articles.

  • Draining The Swamp - a catch phrase for an agenda to improve congressional ethics. Highlights include: a ban on privately funded travel, loss of floor access to past members who are now lobbyists, 24 hours waiting period on all bills and 3 days for bills containing earmarks or limited tax benefits.
  • Minimum Wage Increase - Congress will seek to raise the minimum wage to $7.25. Analysis shows that this should increase the GDP and help save social security.
  • The 9/11 Commission - Pelosi claims that Congress will implement "all the recommendations" of the 9/11 commission. The truth here is that most things have been implemented except the calls for more direct oversight by Congress. It's no surprise Pelosi wants to implement that.
  • Medicaid Prescription Drug Program - as it stands now, the federal government is prohibited from negotiating with drug companies to get lower prices for drugs available through this program. Congress will seek to lift that restriction. Whether or not such negotiations will secure lower prices than the current system is a matter of much debate.
  • Student Loan Rates - Congress will seek to cut student loan rates in half (from 6.8% to 3.4% for Stafford loans.) The impact of such a change can be far reaching as college education can be a factor in unemployment, entitlement use and likelihood to vote.
  • Big Oil - Congress will seek to reverse one of the biggest blunders of the Clinton Administration by compelling Oil companies to pay mandated royalties on off-shore drilling revenue. The law allowing the drilling required the government to secure royalty agreements for the leases, but Clinton Administration ineptly left that requirement out of the leases. The blunder, if not fixed, will cost tax payers over 10 billion in revenue over the next 5 years.
  • Social Security - The administration's bluster about the insolvency of the Social Security trust fund is a boondoggle to justify their desire to see the money put into the stock market to jack the value of wealthy portfolios. Congress is promising to head off any efforts toward privatization on part of the administration.

100 Hours: Minimum Wage Increase

Another part of Nancy Pelosi's promised first 100 hours of the 110th Congress is a promise to pass an increase in the minimum wage.

As I've previously mentioned on this site, I think this is overdue and perhaps should be indexed so as to avoid this fight in the future; but, in any case, the proposed legislation is likely to call for an increase to $7.25/hour.

I do not wish to rehash arguments put forth in my previous article on the topic (link below), except to point out that without an increase by 2008, anyone working full time at minimum wage will be below the poverty line.

As part of this series on the first 100 hours, I want to touch on another aspect of raising the minimum wage: GDP, Taxes and Social Security.

In states where the state minimum wage is higher than the current $5.15 federal minimum, the GDP per working-age capita is $73,369 compared to $62,671 for states at the minimum. In states with a minimum of $7.00 or higher, the GDP per working-age capita rises to $78,950.

A Peak At The First 100 Hours Of The 110th Congress

Incoming Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has a legislative agenda for the first 100 hours of democratic rule in the next congress. Many of the proposals sounds straight forward and I will look at each in depth over the coming weeks leading to the start of the 110th Congress. In no particular order, here's her agenda:

  • "We will start by cleaning up Congress, breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation and commit to pay-as-you-go, no new deficit spending.
  • "We will make our nation safer and we will begin by implementing the recommendations of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission.
  • "We will make our economy fairer, and we will begin by raising the minimum wage. We will not pass a pay raise for Congress until there is an increase in the minimum wage.
  • "We will make health care more affordable for all Americans, and we will begin by fixing the Medicare prescription drug program, putting seniors first by negotiating lower drug prices. We will also promote stem cell research to offer real hope to the millions of American families who suffer from devastating diseases.
  • "We will broaden college opportunity, and we will begin by cutting interest rates for student loans in half.
  • "We will energize America by achieving energy independence, and we will begin by rolling back the multi-billion dollar subsidies for Big Oil.
  • "[and,] We will guarantee a dignified retirement, and we will begin by fighting any attempt to privatize Social Security."

Poverty and the Minimum Wage

One of the big issues for Democrats when they take over in January will be an increase in the minimum wage. The current Federal Minimum Wage is $5.15/hour, but that rate has been eclipsed in 18 states that have a higher minimum wage than the the federal governments requires.

The chart below compares the poverty line (blue) for a single person of working age with the minimum wage (pink).

"Living Wage" Law Vetoed In Chicago

An effort to pass a law requiring large retailers with more than $1 Billion in sales or stores larger than 90,000 square feet was vetoed by Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago. A projected 31-18 vote to override would be three votes short of passing.

The measure would have required those employers to pay $10 per hour plus $3 an hour in benefits by 2010. That is in comparison to the Illinois minimum wage of $6.50 an hour and the embarrassing federal minimum wage of $5.15.

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