The minimum wage hasn’t risen in a decade and the right is determined to make the poor suffer for it
In 1933, at what may have been the peak of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt said:
In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.
In 2018, at what is probably the peak of longest recovery in American history, which began under Barack Obama eight years ago, conservatives are arguing that the poor do not have a right to exist unless they suffer burdens unlike anything the right would ever ask of the rich.
And they’re arguing this as employers enjoy one of the largest and most unnecessary tax giveaways ever, which includes a cut to the inheritance tax that allows rich kids to take in 135 times what the average American earns in a year without ever working a day in their lives. (You aren’t your daddy, even if you’re rich. There’s no reason that inheriting should be taxed less than working.)
Meanwhile, the new GOP farm bill coming out of the House adds to the already significant work requirements for the SNAP benefits best known as “food stamps.”
The legislation dramatically would expand work requirements to all non-disabled workers ages 50 to 59, while raising the required hours of work from 20 to 25 by 2026, even caregivers if the person they’re caring for is older than 5.
That’s not even the worst part.
Make one error because you or your caseworker messed up paperwork, no food stamps for a year. A second error and you can starve for longer than a two-year term in the House.
Jared Kushner can make 140 errors on his federal paperwork and still have a job. You make two and no food for you.
In Michigan, Republicans are pushing a racist work requirement for Medicaid that would punish black residents while resigning white rural residents to a never-ending recession.
These new bureaucratic burdens, which could easily kill someone who is severely sick and/or but not yet officially designated disabled by the government, come as we mark more than a decade without Congress raising the federal minimum wage.
Most people on food stamps and most government benefits work and the ones who don’t are generally caregivers, students or dealing with a disability. Unless you believe in a society where kids and the elderly don’t deserve care, education isn’t a priority and people should be forced to work to death, we’re debating how to get the small minority of Americans on benefits who don’t have a job to work.
There are lots of answers for this. For instance, in Detroit where the GOP’s racist requirements for Medicaid would hit especially hard, the massive expanse of the city is only tenuously served by public transportation. There are lots of people who rely on several hours on several buses to get to work. Try to do that for months, with kids, with snow, with our roads Republicans have left in disrepair, and see how long you last at a job.
If you believed in the free market, you’d have a simple solution for this — higher wages.
Instead, we get this:
Imagine writing this and not realizing you just made the world’s best argument for raising the minimum wage.
A 2016 study found “raising the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 would reduce public assistance expenditures by $17 billion annually.”
You have to admire how the guys who only making the rich richer continually shrug off policies that would actually save taxpayers money to achieve their real goal, burdening working people out of their senses.
That’s what unnecessary work requirements do. Because if you just wanted people to work, you’d do the decent thing and pay them a decent wage.