Minimum wage is an issue that often is a matter of contention even within the parties. Before going into the issue of Democratic views on minimum wage directly, though, it seems prudent to exam the values and views of the Democratic Party that lead it to favor specific policies regarding a federal minimum wage. Starting with the obvious: While the Republican Party is generally viewed, and quite readily presents itself, as the party of economic growth – this is often, practically, tied to large corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthiest of Americans. Conversely, the Democratic Party is often viewed, and commonly attempts to present itself, as the party of the people. This is often viewed as an effort to champion the common man, and is frequently voiced in views such as placing Main Street before Wall Street.
Lack of Trickle Down In Big Business
Why is this, though? Well – the primary argument behind such logic would be that when companies, businesses, and corporations are given free reign, they tend to act in the best interests of those at the top of their respective chains of command. This tends to result in the majority of profits and wealth a business generates going to those who are already the top earners within their respective fields. Now, while those who lead a business to great success certainly have a right to the profits their business generates, at some point a notable question becomes merited: at what point does stagnating profits at the top on a recurring basis begin becoming detrimental to society? Certainly, it provides a motivation for those with intellectual or professional aptitudes to excel and better themselves in the hopes of being among the wealthiest, but it also begs the question of if more of that wealth should actually trickle down to workers at the bottom of these hierarchical business models. Too often, the answer is simply that it won’t – in part because of assistance programs the government provides helping to fill the wage gap and allow corporations to dodge necessary pay increases with inflation.
How is that the case? Well – as corporate profits grow and inflation rises, one would expect to see salaries and pay rates rise accordingly. For those at the bottom of these major corporations, though, these increases rarely materialize. Many estimate that the low wages paid by businesses are costing taxpayers nearly $153 billion a year. After decades of wage cuts and health benefit rollbacks, more than half of all state and federal spending on public assistance programs goes to working families who need food stamps, Medicaid, or other support to meet basic needs.
Assistance Programs vs Raising Minimum Wage
In essence, in the absence of responsible corporate management and fair compensation for minimum wage workers the government has, in effect, begun filling in the gaps in pay that companies won’t. Not by raising the minimum wage, which many Democrats readily advocate for, but by spending growing amounts on assistance programs that are meant to help the desperate and destitute. This is where we’ve landed as Americans – growing programs meant for the most desperate among us instead of tackling the problem directly by addressing the issue of raising the minimum wage to the point that it is a livable wage. While Conservatives will often decry the very idea of the government dictating any pay rates to companies as an overreach of government that also hurts the economy, the reality is that even without raising the minimum wage directly we are already using taxpayer funding to try and fill the gap for many of these corporations. In effect – we’ve already partially taken this step, we’ve just done so indirectly.
Minimum Wage Should Equal Working Wage
Let’s transition, though, to examining the views of some prominent Democrats and Liberals on this front to offer a more direct articulation of their views on the minimum wage issue. Let’s start by first looking to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. “It is un-American to be in this country, to work a full-time job and still live in poverty. That is unacceptable. The minimum wage working at a lot of these contract companies only affords them about $22,000 a year … You cannot live and raise a family on $22,000 a year. You can’t afford housing, you can’t afford child care and since your company isn’t helping you with retirement, you can’t save for retirement.” Another prominent name in many economic conversations would be Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has articulated similar views: “No one who works full-time should live in poverty — and that starts with raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It also means passing equal-pay laws. The gender pay gap can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional wages over a lifetime of work for women doing the same jobs as their male colleagues. And finally, it means protecting workers’ right to organize.” While there are certainly other notable Democrats to draw upon, the consensus seems fairly clear: Americans deserve the right to a livable wage.
Plan of Action
However, to cut to the heart of the matter, what are Democrats doing to enact change at the national level? We’ve explored some of the rationales behind their views and cited quotations from prominent Democratic Senators articulating these views in detail – but where is the action to back the words? Well – as of May of this year legislation was introduced in the form of the Raise the Wage Act. “Congressional Democratic leaders will unveil a proposal to hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour on Thursday alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders, who made the issue a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and other senior Democrats will join Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, in releasing the legislation.” At the moment the legislation remains pending and can be tracked by visiting Congress’s website, but given that Republicans control both houses of Congress and the Presidency it seems unlikely that much headway will be made in the immediate future. Still –for those hoping to see an increase to the minimum wage at the national level it seems clear which political party is championing this cause.
- Americans are spending $153 billion a year to subsidize McDonald’s and Wal-Mart’s low wage workers – The Washington Post
- Booker: It’s un-American for full-time workers to live in poverty – NJ.com
- How to level the playing field for working families – Boston Globe
- Democratic leaders to join Sanders on $15 minimum wage pitch – Politico
- Raise the Wage Act – Congress.gov
- Minimum Wage Increases: Good For Employees, But Detrimental To Employers
- Republican Views on the Minimum Wage
- Democratic Views on Jobs
- Republican Views on Jobs
- Republican Views On Unemployment
- Democratic Views on Small Business
- Democratic Views on Poverty
- Democratic Views on Big Business
- Republican Views on Small Business
- Democratic Views On Taxes