Labor, Mark Schauer — May 9, 2014 at 7:15 am

Michigan GOP’s solution to poverty: give the working poor a $30/week raise


“Here are some crumbs. Don’t eat them all at once.”

Senate Republicans seem to be on a mission to outdo each other on making meaningless and insulting gestures toward lifting the working poor in our state out of poverty. First we had Rick Jones who proposed raising the minimum wage to a paltry $8.15 an hour and giving full-time waiters and waitresses a $4 a week (before taxes) raise.

Now we have Senate Republican Leader Randy Richardville with his own insulting legislation. Like Jones, his bill would raise the minimum wage to $8.15 an hour. If you are working full time at minimum wage, that’s a $30 extra a week before taxes. Richardville does give waiters and waitresses a bit more: a raise of 28 cents an hour – a whopping $11.20 a week before taxes.

Someone working a full-time minimum wage job brings home less than $300 a week. It’s poverty wages and $30 more a week is beyond inadequate. Having a minimum wage that low ensures that Michigan taxpayers will subsidize the businesses who pay these poverty wages because minimum wage workers will be getting food stamps and other government assistance simply to eat and have a home with water and electricity. For McDonald’s, that subsidy amounts to $7 billion a year. For Walmart, it’s $2.66 billion a year.

But, that’s not what this is about. Jones and Richardville aren’t putting forth serious efforts to combat poverty and corporate welfare. They are throwing chaff into the air to distract and confuse voters so that they won’t support the Raise the Wage ballot proposal for which signatures are now being gathered. It’s a well-tested way of politicking by Republicans. They don’t have to win the issue, they just have to confuse enough people to not lose.

Governor Snyder is silent on this issue for all of the obvious, corporate-funded reasons. Democratic candidate for Governor Mark Schauer, however, is not.

Rick Snyder, Randy Richardville and Lansing Republicans should be ashamed. Their latest scheme to block a meaningful increase in the minimum wage shows just how out of touch they are with the people of Michigan.

Let’s be clear, $8.15 an hour is still a poverty wage for families in Michigan, and we are better than that. This is not a serious proposal, and it should be rejected by the legislature. Rick Snyder should stop playing games and support a real increase in the minimum wage to help create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy.

The midterm election in Michigan is going to be a critical test for us. Do we continue to let corporatist Republicans use the state government to benefit the wealthy and the large corporations? Or do we enact some homegrown regime change and replace them with people who actually care about ALL Michiganders?

The campaign starts today. Get involved. You could start by collecting petition signatures for the Raise Michigan effort. Or sign up with a local candidate and help them get elected. Whatever you do, don’t sit this one out.