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Harkin: $10.10 Minimum Wage the ‘Bottom Line’ for Negotiations

Bill sponsor says adopting a lower wage in combination with indexing to inflation would “lock in a sub-poverty wage for the long-term.”

by
Rodrigo Sermeño

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January 20, 2014 - 11:47 am
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WASHINGTON – Two top Democrats said last week they are willing to negotiate over the details of a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but they will not change the amount of the increase.

“We’re willing to negotiate,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a left-leaning think tank. “But $10.10 is a bottom line. We cannot go below that.”

Harkin said adopting a lower wage in combination with indexing to inflation would “lock in a sub-poverty wage for the long-term.”

The senator was joined by the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), and White House Council of Economics Advisers Chairman Jason Furman.

“We cannot put into law a permanent sub-minimum wage,” Miller said. “It cannot be the right answer for a dynamic American economy.”

With midterm elections on the horizon, Democrats are eager to turn the push for a minimum wage increase into a wedge issue that they hope will put Republicans in a difficult position, and attract minority and youth voters whose turnout numbers tend to drop off during nonpresidential elections.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think you’re going to ask your caucus to take into the election the killing of the minimum wage,” Miller said.

The legislation would phase in the minimum wage hike from the current $7.25 an hour to $8.20 in the first year, then $9.15 the year after and to $10.10 in the third year.

The Harkin-Miller proposal also includes a measure that would raise the minimum wage for workers paid in tips, which could be as little as $2.13 per hour in some states that allow employers to use gratuity to cover the difference between the federal minimum wage and the required direct wage. The proposal calls for an increase in this minimum to $3 per hour for one year, and then it would adjust the base annually until it matches 70 percent of the federal minimum wage.

President Obama used his State of the Union address last year to call for a national minimum wage of $9 per hour. In November, the White House endorsed publicly the Harkin-Miller proposal.

A group of 75 leading economists has also backed the bill, including seven Nobel laureates and former economic advisers to several Democratic administrations. The group sent a letter Tuesday in support of the bill to Obama and congressional leaders.

“The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults in working families, disproportionately women, who work at least 20 hours a week and depend on these earnings to make ends meet,” the letter reads. “At a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages, such a minimum-wage increase would provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers.”

Sixty-three percent of Americans favor the boost in the federal minimum wage, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

A recent analysis by the EPI determined that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would grow the U.S. economy by about $22 billion and create 85,000 new jobs.

According to the Congressional Research Service, approximately 1.6 million hourly workers currently earn the minimum wage. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia require a higher minimum wage than the federal rate, which Obama has cited as a reason to boost the national minimum.

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Top Rated Comments   
I saw this coming. The point is to use whatever tools necessary to devalue the currency, and by doing so, the debt. The minimum wage is a benchmark in a stagnant economy. By substantially increasing the minimum wage, so the playbook states, you can pay back your debt holders in dollars that are worth less because of inflation.

If we had an economy modeled upon production rather than the splitting up of a pie, the minimum wage wouldn't be an issue because nobody worth hiring would long be employed in a minimum wage job. There would be actual competition for employees. There would be HIRING. It would be...America again...and not this bad dream I can't seem to wake up from.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
One question. One, simple, question.

What part of ANY of this is specifically enumerated in the Constitution as a Federal issue?

None? Question answered.

Any congressman, Republican or Democrat, that has anything to do with this issue has no understanding of the operation of our Constitutional republic, and needs to be voted out of office. I'm sick to death of this crap. It needs to stop.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Clearly, the big reason the Democrats are pushing this legislation is to distract voters from the Obamacare mess.

But if I were a Republican, I'd go ahead, and support the rise in the minimum wage. Who really cares if it simply fuels inflation, and increases the numbers of unskilled workers who lose their jobs due to increased automation?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (47)
All Comments   (47)
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12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
“Let’s be clear: our federal minimum wage of just $7.25, which has not budged in more than four years, is now a poverty wage."

$7.25 to $10.10 in four years is 8.6% a year. Thank you Senator for revealing the true inflation rate. I'll be sure to quote you on that.

"No American who works a full-time job should have to struggle to put food on the table or pay the bills.”

No American works full-time at a low wage thanks to a certain law that would not have passed without your vote. We're all touched by your concern for people who don't exist.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Illinois has a minimum wage about a dollar higher than the federal rate and it has one of the highest unemployment rates of all the states. Raise the minimum wage and you destroy jobs at the low end. These are facts that have been proven time and again. It's Econ 101.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's not about poor people. It's not even a cynical OR ploy. There are union contracts tied to minimum wage, and some portion of this "increase" will flow into Democrat campaign coffers.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not to mention taxes; the payroll tax withholds according to income. Income up, payroll tax up. Even though most minimum wage employees get refunds, enough people don't bother to file taxes, so the Feds get to keep it.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Also Social Security taxes, which are not subject to refunds.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey - They're pikers asking for only $10.10. Let's go large here.How about $50.00 an hour. Oh, and by the way, those so called economists, they should hand back their degrees. Of course, they just might reflect the the same degree of degredation we see elsewhere in academia.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
They take crazy positions all the time and act like they are all human rights. Doesn't matter how stupid the positions are...they go unchallenged by the Rino's, or at best, not enthusiastically supported. Of course, no matter how stupid the position, some Rino will support it. John McCain, I'm talking about YOU.

Meanwhile, our self appointed leaders won't even take positions that are proven by hundreds of years of success. "Freedom works", "Budgets must balance", "Giving stuff away doesn't work", "Deficits of Trillions are societal suicide", "the Constitution works", "minimum wages only help union goons".

Kinda makes you think that the marxist thugs and our dear rinos are on the same side, doesn't it?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
proreason, this is why I call them "Republi-crats". I haven't been able to tell the difference for a LONG time!!
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
If it costs somebody ELSE to provide it to YOU, it is NOT a right. Very simple way to determine what is a 'right' and what is a 'want'.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dogula, simply & elegantly stated...KUDOS!! May I borrow this gem?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course. I'm sure I learned it somewhere else as well.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I saw this coming. The point is to use whatever tools necessary to devalue the currency, and by doing so, the debt. The minimum wage is a benchmark in a stagnant economy. By substantially increasing the minimum wage, so the playbook states, you can pay back your debt holders in dollars that are worth less because of inflation.

If we had an economy modeled upon production rather than the splitting up of a pie, the minimum wage wouldn't be an issue because nobody worth hiring would long be employed in a minimum wage job. There would be actual competition for employees. There would be HIRING. It would be...America again...and not this bad dream I can't seem to wake up from.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oops, forgot the kicker, and it's really good. Tax brackets. In a very short period of time everyone gets pushed toward the higher percentage brackets. And the best part is, increasing the level of tax in each bracket will probably be bundled in.

So, the minimum goes up but your dollars are worth less because an increase in the min. is ALWAYS inflationary. So, let's call that side 'even.'

But the REAL pain comes when people are pushed into, not just the current higher bracket, but a 'revised' higher bracket. It's beautiful. Despicable, but beautiful.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
So when $10.10 buys in a few months what $7.25 buys now, are you raising the minimum wage again? For all the times the minimum wage has been raised, I haven't seen any minimum wage employee get richer.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
David IV, some of them do get richer. They are the ones who rent cheap apartments with 3 (or more) roommates & work 2 to 3 min. wage jobs. They "exist" (by our standards), so they can send most of their wages back home to Mexico or Guatemala. Most don't own cars or other unnecessary extravagances. They either take a bicycle to work or ride the city bus. To these people, this is such a big step up that they feel rich. Not many people born in this country will take those jobs or live that lifestyle. I saw this firsthand when I lived in Newbury Park, CA. They bus tables in a local restaurant at night & work bent over at the waist, in the blistering sun picking Strawberries in Oxnard, by day.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ironically, it will hurt them the worst. Because the grocery store and other things they buy will be more expensive. And their landlord will raise their rent when carpet cleaners, painters etc. raise their prices.

But they will probably lose the increase in food cost alone.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
We could call this idea "See the last few jobs disappear!" or "$199 for a head of lettuce, here we go!"

We are in the hands of fools and bandits.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
A military recruit in basic training works 16 hours a day (at least). Paid monthly (30 days) at $10.10/hour, that works out to $4848 a month. Current monthly wage for the recruit (at E-1 payscale) is $1531.50. Or a mere 1/3 the Harkin proposed minimum wage.

Now, I'm all for tripling the current pay for our military, but I seriously doubt Sen. Harkin's up for it.

Sen. Harkin, maybe you folks in the government should put your money where your mouth is first before dictating private businesses do what you don't and won't.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
After basic training, which is an unfair comparison, your job has a lot to do with how your pay compares to civilian counterparts. Many military jobs pay a little below civilian scale, some pay rather more.
The 40-hours-a-week thing also depends a lot on your job. Most support jobs do work essentially a 40-hour week; field jobs are different and deployment different yet.
You're right that it's discouraging for military people to compare our hourly rates to civilians (I'm a retired medic). We used to say, "When the civilians go on overtime, they get time and a half. When we go on overtime, they stop paying us."
But, to be fair, the insurance and retirement benefits were great and the new ones are still pretty dang good.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course, since the military are considered salary workers they won't see any benefit to increasing the minimum wage. Figuring out your hourly rate is something you do only once in your military career, it's too depressing.

They'll still have to pay for all of the inflation this triggers, though. Hmmm, more money for unions, more people on the dole, and impoverishing the military. To a vile prog it's win-win-win.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
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