Today, Senator Gary Peters from Michigan joined 32 other Democrats in introducing the Raise the Wage Act. The legislation would increase the federal minimum wage to $12/hour by 2020.
The so-called Raise the Wage Act, which will be introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate, will slowly boost the current $7.25 rate over the next five years, with the first hike to $8 coming in 2016 and $1 annual increases occurring through 2020. The bill’s sponsors—Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, and Congressman Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia—estimate that raising the federal minimum wage to $12 would result in increased pay for 38 million Americans.
The $12 headlining the legislation is an increase over Democrats’ 2013 proposal for a $10.10 minimum wage, which has languished in Congress. That amount appeared progressive at the time, but it’s since lost its luster as cities and states have set minimum wages that reach further into the double digits—Seattle’s $15 per hour, Massachusetts’s $11 rate—and as low-wage workers have taken up a $15 per hour rallying cry.
Peters released a statement about the importance of this legislation saying, “Nobody who works full-time in this country should have to live in poverty, but that is the brutal economic reality for millions of families across the country right now who can’t make ends meet in the face of stagnant wages and increased costs of daily necessities. Increasing the minimum wage means rewarding the value of hard work, so that families have a real opportunity to not just get by, but get ahead and join the middle class.
A higher minimum wage isn’t just good for workers, Peters says. It’s good for the entire economy. “Higher wages translate to greater purchasing power for working families across the country, which means businesses have more potential customers who can afford what they are selling. Businesses will also reap the rewards of a more productive, more stable workforce.”
The chance of the legislation going anywhere in the Republican-controlled House and Senate is about zero but Democrats want to be sure that Republicans are seen for the anti-worker, pro-Big Business shills that they are. They know that the rising economic tide is raising yachts but those of us in rowboats are being left behind.
Here’s the proof:
It’s nice to know that at least some of our lawmakers are trying to do the right thing for the right reasons.