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Raising The Minimum Wage: Americans Get It… What’s Congress’s Problem?

Let me turn your attention to some video released by Think Progress today of Representative Dennis Ross (R-FL 15) at a town hall meeting in Tampa, FL. When asked by constituent and low-wage worker Shaneeka Rainer whether or not he’d support raising the minimum wage, Ross rejected the notion, saying, “It’s not right.”

If Rep. Ross had left it there, this would just be another example of a Republican member of Congress dismissing the struggles of hard-working Americans. Instead, he turned the tables in his own town hall meeting and asked, “Who’s going to pay for it?”

ROSS: “If we are going to make it a living wage, who’s going to pay for it? Who’s going to pay for it?”

AUDIENCE MEMBER: “I will. I’ll pay 20 cents extra for a hamburger.”

This response to an otherwise rhetorical question elicited a smattering of applause from the town hall, and put the Congressman on his heels. This response to an otherwise rhetorical question was the tide of the minimum wage fight rising in the face of dwindling opposition.

“I will.”

It’s a simple rallying cry being trumpeted all over the country right now in the name of raising the minimum wage. It’s a declaration in a town hall in Florida that marginally higher prices for goods are well worth making sure that our fellow Americans can make enough money to pay their bills. It’s an announcement from a pizza chain in Minnesota that paying higher wages to their staff ensures future earnings and allows them to offer better service to their customers. It is states like Connecticut and Maryland not waiting for Congress to act and voting to raise their minimum wages to $10.10 an hour.

Yet, Republicans continue to stand in the way. Just yesterday, Governor Mary Fallin signed a law that bars all Oklahoma cities from setting their own mandatory minimum wage, effectively freezing it at the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

Low-wage workers in this country are struggling. They are pleading for someone to step up to the plate for them and for our economy.

Americans everywhere are saying “I will.”

Sadly, for Republicans in Congress, “It’s not right.”

04.16.14 | permalink

An Open Letter To Kathleen Sebelius

Thank you, Madam Secretary.

Thanks for ensuring that 7.5 million Americans could sign up for affordable, quality health insurance.

Thanks for your commitment to fixing the website, and for your leadership throughout the (hugely successful) open enrollment period—despite what some people had predicted.

Thanks for reaching out to Republican governors to help set up state exchanges, work to expand Medicaid, and reach compromise on marketplace structures in many red states, despite repeated and relentless Republican attempts to sabotage the law.

Thanks for having the courage to stand in there during your 5+ years of service—the 6th-longest among Cabinet members—despite having to put up with misleadingfalsified, and repeatedly debunked attacks on the ACA throughout your time in the Administration.

Thanks for teaching us how to sneeze properly.   

Thanks for helping these people #GetCovered.  And also these people.  And these people.  And this cancer survivor.  And this small business owner.  And this person with a pre-existing condition.  And 9.3 million other Americans who otherwise would not have had health insurance.

Thanks for everything, Secretary Sebelius, from me and some of my friends.

See Also:

Adam Hoyer is the Executive Director of Protect Your Care

04.11.14 | permalink

Congress - Give America a Raise

A big bus and a tank of gas will take you anywhere you want to go in the lower 48. But an idea - an economic imperative, a moral necessity – will reach out and touch the American people. That was, and has always been, the motivation behind the ‘Give America a Raise’ Bus Tour:  The idea that raising pay for the low-wage workers of this country benefits all Americans, not just those who see a bigger paycheck. We’ve traveled from Maine to New Hampshire, from Connecticut to New York and Pennsylvania, to Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin, through Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and now here, on the doorstep of Congress in Washington, DC, to demand a living wage for hard-working Americans, a fighting chance for families living in poverty and a boost to this nation’s economy.

We’ve met small business owners on the forefront of this movement who won’t wait for Congress to act. We met Sean Garceau, General Manager of Miguel’s, a Mexican restaurant in Bangor, ME, who was thrilled to hear his workers talking about the gift they were able to afford to buy their loved one or the night out they spent with their family. We met Jeni Burns, the owner of Ms. Groovy’s Catering and Café in Charleston, WV, who knew that paying her contractors more meant they would come to work with purpose and that she could hold them to a higher standard; that minimum wage will get you minimum work.

We’ve heard impassioned pleas from the faith community, imploring America to reevaluate the moral dilemma behind making people work at $7.25 ($2.13 for tipped workers) an hour. We heard from Pastor Gail Kinney in New Hampshire, who reminded us that all work should have dignity, and those who perform these jobs, whether they’re 16 or 66, should feel like their work has value. Gary McCaslin, a retired Baptist Minister in Corning, NY, explained that raising the minimum wage wasn’t a Republican or a Democratic issue, but a moral issue, and that no member of Congress worries about where their next meal will come from or where their family will sleep at night.

But most importantly, we’ve listened to everyday Americans struggling to survive on low wages, working multiple jobs and still not getting by. We listened to Nate Smith tell of his back-breaking work as a baggage handler at Philadelphia International Airport, where he works full-time but still can’t afford his own apartment and struggles to provide for his beautiful daughter, Jasmine. We listened to Tabitha Whalen, who works at multiple Dunkin Donuts in the Portland, ME, area, and her tireless efforts to keep a roof over the head of her son, Malachi. We listened to Gale Hamilton from Springfield, IL, who works two jobs and is going to school to better herself and her family. Gale hasn’t had the luxury of working just one job since her now 17-year-old daughter was two.

These are just a sampling of the stories we heard on our 11-state tour, and all of the stories we heard are just a microcosm of life for 28 million Americans who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. These are voices that need to be amplified, need to be heard. We urge Congress to hear these voices. We urge Congress to fight for these voices.

Congress – Give America a raise. #RaiseTheWage

Brad Woodhouse is the President of Americans United for Change

To learn more about the ‘Give America a Raise’ Bus Tour, visit http://www.RaiseTo1010.com.

04.03.14 | permalink

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