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Hoyer: Country Won't Be as Strong Without 'Living Wage' for All

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) speaks during a House Democrats news conference on May 11, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON – House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said making the minimum wage $15 per hour would only bring individuals “close” to a living wage.

“It’s 48 percent less than it was in 1968. It ought to be $10.70 if all you did was escalate it by inflation from 1968; it would be $10.70. So when you mentioned $15, that gets close to a living wage. It may not be at a living wage … rent alone in a city, I don’t know how the workers who work in New York City or San Francisco or Washington, D.C., live here,” he said at a Center for American Progress event.

“If we don’t recognize … the fact that people who are working hard get compensated in a way that allows them to live healthfully and with some degree of lack of anxiety daily, then you are not going to have this country as strong as you want it to be,” he added.

According to the Washington Post, the median home price in Washington is roughly $460,000, not counting condo or HOA fees and utilities. Rising home prices and rent cause many people who work in major cities to live in surrounding areas.

The White House supports a $10.10 per hour national minimum wage. The D.C. Council recently approved a $15 per hour minimum wage to be implemented by 2020. The D.C. Council is also considering a proposal from Council Member David Grosso that would require a guaranteed income for each resident regardless of employment status.

According to an American Enterprise Institute analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data published in February, Seattle’s unemployment rate is higher compared to April 2015 when the city implemented a $15 minimum wage.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said Congress should pass a young child tax credit for $1,500 per child under 3 years old in addition to the existing child tax credit. She also said the child tax credit should be indexed to inflation.

“By age, those children, the youngest children are those who are most in poverty in this nation,” she said.

An Inspector General report in 2014 revealed that the child tax credit is “high risk” for fraud. The IRS improperly paid $5.9 billion in child tax credits in fiscal year 2013.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for speaking about poverty this month at a drug and alcohol rehab center instead of a McDonald’s, a shuttered factory or a daycare center. She urged Democrats to question the “characterization” of “poor people” as “broken people” that need to be fixed, adding that all kinds of people lose jobs.

She also said guaranteeing medical care, as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has called for, would not only help the poor.

“Preparing a medical safety net for everybody is in all of our interests, you know, it doesn’t matter if you live in Central Park and you’ve got the best healthcare available to you. If everybody in Harlem is going to develop Zika, you are in trouble. You can’t isolate yourself,” she said.