An Effective Minimum Wage Increase
by DanielUA, Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 07:09:38 AM EST
First, winning feels great. I was 11 years old when Clinton won in 1992. And then we started losing. A lot. Hell, even when Clinton won the second time it was not like he did it with a progressive mandate. So, yeah, this feels weird, but pretty damn awesome.
In any case, as most know, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid will likely introduce a minimum wage increase within the first 3 or 4 days of the Democratic takeover.
In all likelihood, the minimum wage will pass. But, rather than fight this battle again in 4, 8 or 12 years, why don't we do something to make it a little more effective?
First, it strikes me that not only will the minimum wage be passed by both houses of Congress, it will be a pretty simple, solid bill. Many in the GOP don't want to raise the minimum wage, yet don't want to be seen as voting against it. So, what do they do? They simply tack on a bunch of crappy amendments, ensuring that Democrats wont vote for it. They used to love to play this game, because they controlled the debate, the controlled the bills and amendments, and they controlled the conference committees. Well, those games just were rained out.
What I assume will happen now is that sometime soon after going into office, the Dem's will pass a simple, unfettered increase in the wage to $7.25. That raise means about four thousand dollars a year for a full time, minimum wage earning worker. That is a big deal.
Of course, over time, the wage will erode in real dollars. So, the most obvious step is to put in a cost of living index (COLA), that will bring up the wage with inflation. I think we may be able to sell that, we may not.
This is obviously not a new idea. Hell, the first thing that comes up on Google for Congress and COLA is this article from the Huffington Post:
I have proposed what is (to me) an obvious solution to the problem, obvious to anyone outside the Beltway at least. The Democrats should come out strongly for a bill which not only starts by raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, but also mandates a yearly minimum wage COLA.
This is only fair. Virtually every number the government uses -- from the yearly federal budget to congressional salaries -- is indexed for inflation in one way or another. So why not index the minimum wage using the same formula which decides how big of a salary bump Congress gets each year? Hold one vote on the issue, get it passed, and then you never again have to battle in Congress over the minimum wage.
However, as the article hints at but does not emphasize, I think we can get a COLA with one simple slogan: "We raised the minimum wage. From here on out, the minimum wage will only increase when the Congress votes themselves a payraise." Thats it. Repeat over and over something like that, or this: W"e are in this together. From here on out, all of our salaries will rise and fall together."
Don't even bother mentioning the term COLA. It is wonky, and useless.
(Technically, I believe what happens in Congress every year is that the House and Senate have to vote to "not deny" themselves the increase, and let the COLA do its magic. It is pretty damn hard to imagine a majority voting to deny themselves the raise.)
Will Bush sign it? I think so. He may veto a lot of other bills, but I am fairly confident that this is one that could get out of the Congress, get his signature, and let us take our focus off of the minimum wage for a long time to come.
Winning feels great. Lasting change would feel even better.