December 31, 2013

While Republicans and their enablers in the media continue to attempt to spread fear about the supposed dire consequences for small businesses and our economy if the U.S. were to raise the minimum wage, it's always nice to get a breath of fresh air from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who did a fine job taking apart the GOP and their arguments against raising the minimum wage during his interview this Monday with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts.

As Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA noted, it took Sanders all of about a minute or so to completely take their opposition apart:

Sen. Sanders said,

Look. Here’s the story. The story is that the national minimum wage is seven and a quarter an hour. I think most people understand that’s a starvation wage. Individuals can’t live on it. Families can’t live on it. If we raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, which to my mind doesn’t go as far as it should, that would be a raise for 30 million Americans, vast majority of them are adults. And that’s just not people making seven and a quarter an hour. It’s people making eight bucks an hour, nine dollars an hour.

And at a time when almost all new income is going to the top 1%, it is time that working people, lower income workers get a raise, and we have got to do that. Now if the Republicans refuse to go along with that, and I very much hope that they will go along with it. I hope they understand that the overwhelming majority of the American people across the political spectrum understand that we have got to raise the minimum wage, so I hope that we can get this done.

Sen. Sanders (I-VT) took apart the major myths that form the backbone of the Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage. The Vermont senator pointed out that most minimum wage workers are adults. There are families who are trying to live off of the minimum wage. These people can’t live off of $7.25 an hour, and that minimum wage earners are working are the working poor.

Americans who are earning the minimum wage aren’t students who are working after school jobs. They aren’t living with mom and dad. These are adults who are working in mostly service industries to support themselves, and/or their families. Raising the minimum wage would be a huge step towards lifting millions of people out of poverty.

If Republicans want to lessen the need for food stamps and other assistance programs, the best way to do this would be to reward work by increasing the minimum wage.

It took Bernie Sanders about a minute to destroy the Republican rationale for not raising the minimum wage, and if Republicans try to argue this issue they will face a similar kind of humiliation as political leaders on the left will easily dismantle their conservatives myths and old wives’ tales surrounding the economic damage that is caused by increasing the minimum wage.

He's hopeful it will cost them seats in the House if the Republicans decide to continue to wage this fight, when so much of the public is against them on this one. Here's to hoping he's right, but I'm pessimistic given the gerrymandering and because of the corporate wing of the Democratic party which seems bound and determined to shoot the progressive wing in the foot at every available opportunity. Maybe Steve Israel and his ilk will finally figure out that actually representing their constituents and promoting policies such as raising the minimum wage instead of pushing for cuts in Social Security might be good for them at the ballot box.

In the mean time, I'm very happy we've got the likes of Sen. Sanders putting public pressure on all of his fellow members of Congress to do the right thing. It's long past time to have the minimum wage increased.

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