Democratic leaders have held off on bringing their master midterm-elections/minimum-wage plan to the floor for a vote for months, the better to move the “income inequality” debate closer to the heart of campaign season, but it appears that the time is finally nigh. Via the AP:
And now, a bill by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, boosting today’s $7.25 hourly minimum in three steps until it hits $10.10 as soon as 2016. His minimum wage bill is widely expected to join that list Wednesday, when the Senate seems poised to vote on it. Though it should win backing from nearly all of the 53 Democrats and two Democratic-leaning independents, few if any Republicans are expected to join them, leaving them shy of the needed 60 votes.
Democrats are aware of its likely fate. But they also know that according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, women and young people make up disproportionate portions of the 3.3 million people who earned $7.25 or less last year. Both groups traditionally tilt toward Democrats, who would love to lure them to the polls this fall as they fight to retain Senate control.
“It’s a powerful motivator for voters in the Democratic base who are a focal point of Democratic efforts to turn out voters in the midterm elections,” Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin said of the minimum wage push.
You know, for all of the feigned grief Democrats like to give Republicans for holding “show” votes on repealing ObamaCare and whatever else, they certainly do plenty of that themselves. Even in the unlikely event that the bill makes it through the Senate, it’s probably dead on arrival in the House — but that doesn’t matter, because the sole purpose of this legislation is to hammer their opposition on the entirely misrepresented crisis of “income inequality” as a disease in and of itself rather than a symptom of a larger disease. Republicans, Democrats will say, won’t want to pass this minimum wage bill because they don’t care about poor people, don’t want to protect the middle class, don’t want to give working-class families a chance to get ahead, blah blah blah — when in reality, of course, Republicans simply realize that raising the minimum wage along with the general trend of more big-government, top-down regulation are antithetical to those same goals.
Even beyond the many economically damaging reasons why a minimum-wage hike is not a good idea, the idea of a nationally-determined minimum wage hike is even more ludicrous. How is it an advisable plan to have the same minimum wage in both New York City and small town, Mississippi, where the costs of living are so dramatically different? This is exactly the kind of issue that is tailor-made for federalism (and even municipal determination — looking at you, Seattle), not only because each state can determine what their minimum wage should look like, but so that they can decide if they want to have one at all. Laboratories of democracy in which people and businesses can vote with their feet, and all that:
In the meantime, many states have made moves to raise their own minimum wages over the next year. …
Maryland will raise its wage floor to $8 by Jan. 1, 2015; $8.25 by July 1, 2015; then by 50-cent increments until it hits $10.10 by July 1, 2018.
Minnesota’s $7.25 minimum will increase to $9.50 by 2016 and be indexed to inflation starting in 2018.
In Delaware, the minimum wage will hit $7.75, effective June 1; then it will go to $8.25 by June of 2015.
In West Virginia, the minimum will increase gradually to $8.75 by 2016.
And in Hawaii, legislators just approved a four-step hike from the state’s current wage floor of $7.25 to $10.10 by 2018.