Washington, DC — With Washington Republicans praising record budget deficits as a sign of economic success, Senate Democrats today joined to call on them to take real action to offer economic support to hard-working Americans by raising the minimum wage. Senators Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Bob Menendez called on Senate Republicans to drop their opposition to the important measure, and renewed the Democratic commitment to ensuring that the American people get a raise before Members of Congress.
The federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised in nine years, leaving men and women across the country working for wages that are simply too low to afford the rising cost of American life. Over that same period, Congress has given themselves eight raises, worth $31,600. Instead of fixing the problem, Washington Republicans have set Congress on a path to challenge the legendary “Do Nothing Congress” for inactivity and inattention. Rather than raise the minimum wage or work to help working families, the Republican Congress has pushed though policies that have given handouts to special interests and multimillionaires.
At their event, the Democrats released a report entitled “Their Fair Share: Creating a Just Economy for Minimum Wage Families,” that compares the benefits that Republican policies have given to Members of Congress and CEOs while leaving minimum wage workers behind. A copy of the report is attached to this release.
“Only this President and this Republican Congress would think that soaring gas prices, skyrocketing health care and education costs, stagnant wages, and a $300 billion deficit add up to good economic news,” Senator Kennedy said. “This new report also shows who Bush economy has been working for – those at the very top of the economic ladder. Executive pay is up 73 percent, the average CEO makes more before lunch on the first day of the year than a minimum wage worker makes in an entire year.”
“If you are working minimum wage job and you do nothing and ignore your responsibilities, you get fired. But here in the do-nothing Republican Congress, you get a raise,” Senator Schumer said. “Democrats are united in seeing that this Congress at least does something to raise the minimum wage, and if tying our salaries together with those of hard working Americans is the only way we can get it done, then we’re all for it. Congress shouldn’t be lining its pockets while hardworking Americans are struggling just to fill theirs.”
“We cannot sit by while minimum wage workers see the real value of their wages continue to decline. We need to do right by hardworking Americans and raise the minimum wage. We have taken a stand and made clear that we will block a Congressional pay raise until Congress acts and we will hold strong until we get the job done,” said Senator Clinton.
“The same Republicans who believe it’s fair for an oil and gas executive to make $48 million in one year, believe it’s a sin to pay $7.25 an hour to the gas station attendant who pumps that gas,” Senator Menendez said. “Unless wages rise to keep up with rising costs and to meet the realities facing working families, the American Dream will be out of reach for millions of minimum wage earners, who earn a wage that is worth less than it was nearly 30 years ago.”
With gas prices rising to record levels, health care costs spiraling out of control, and the cost of a college education fast moving out of reach for working families, it is time for a new direction. While Congressional Republicans may be content to do nothing, Democrats are committed to helping hard-working Americans by raising the minimum wage.