Sanders: 'Not a Radical Idea' to Hike 'Starvation Minimum Wage'

WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Congress should pass a $15 federal minimum wage because it would let every worker in America “live life with dignity.”

President Trump has released his tax reform blueprint that would cut individual tax rates across the board. Instead of considering tax cuts for the upper end of the earnings spectrum, Schumer said Republicans should support the proposed Raise the Wage Act to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024.

“It’s shameful that as we speak Republicans are trying to give tax cuts to the uber-wealthy while consistently standing in the way of giving some of the hardest-working Americans a long-overdue raise,” Schumer said during a rally last week outside of the Capitol in support of the bill. “$15 isn’t going to make anybody rich but it’s at least going to let people live life with dignity. And that’s all every American who works hard is entitled to, just that, and it’s not just about a number, it’s about respect for working people. This is a case of economic justice.”

Schumer argued that Trump has not helped “working people” during his time in office.

“The president has spent the first 100 days governing from the far right on behalf of powerful and special interests, breaking his promised to the working people of America, the forgotten men and women, as he called them, and he has forgotten them. It didn’t sure take long for the president to forget them,” Schumer said. “So we are here today to say that the Democrats in Congress have not forgotten about you. We are going to fight like hell to improve your lives because that’s our job and that’s the job of the president.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called the current $7.25 minimum wage, which took effect in July 2009, a “starvation minimum wage.” Sanders argued that now is the time for Congress to pass a minimum wage of $15 per hour after a long period of inaction.

“Nobody can live on $7.25, you can’t live on $8, you can’t live on $10 an hour,” Sanders said. “It’s not a radical idea to say in this great country that if you work 40 hours a week you should not be living in poverty.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said the U.S. needs “more good jobs” that provide health benefits and allow people to form a union. He blasted the federal government for providing more low-wage jobs than any private company.

“The federal government ought to be ashamed for funding more low-wage jobs than Walmart or McDonald’s combined. We’ve got to raise up wages, ya’ll. We’ve got to have good jobs,” he said. “Trump could pass an executive order today to make sure that the federal government only had good jobs, but instead what he did is get rid of an executive order Obama passed to open the door for a bunch of bad jobs – that’s not right. We’re going to fight it.”

Ellison was likely referring to a bill Trump signed that eliminated a requirement for companies seeking federal contracts of $500,000 to show evidence of workplace safety and labor law compliance.