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Cities bypass congress to raise minimum wage

Cities bypass congress to raise minimum wage
Cities bypass congress to raise minimum wage
Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images

Although Republicans continue to say “no” to raising the minimum wage, cities across the country are saying “yes.”

The latest in a growing list of local governments to up the pay of entry level workers is San Diego, Calif.

From The Nation:

In a 6-3 vote, the City Council passed an ordinance to bump the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $11.50 an hour and allow full-time workers to earn up to five paid sick days a year. The change will unfold over three years, before being indexed to inflation, and will affect as many as 214,000 workers by 2017.

The move brings San Diego into the rebellion against the national-level Republican obstructionism against American workers struggling to make ends meets. Among those who have already raised their minimum wages are San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, and 13 other states.

The national minimum wage has not been raised since a series of laws signed by the George W. Bush administration kicked-in in 2009.

While Republicans appear to be confident that blocking a hike in the minimum wage will not hurt their re-election chances in 2014, Democrats see minimum wage as a top issue that could bring out more working class voters in the next election.

“A minimum-wage hike initiative that appears poised to go on Nebraska’s fall ballot might be a perfect wedge issue for the state’s Democratic candidates. It also will likely prompt more young and low-income workers to go to the polls, which could boost Democratic prospects,” according to reporting from Lexch, in Nebraska.

President Obama also weighed-in on the issue in April, saying, “If your member of Congress doesn't support raising the minimum wage, you gotta let them know they're out of step and if they keep putting politics ahead of working Americans, you'll put them out of office."

It remains a hard-sell for Republicans to brand themselves as supporters of the working class when their actions say otherwise.

Raising the minimum wage puts more money into the hands of the people who need it most. And if conservatives are serious about reducing the need for food stamps and other programs for the working poor, higher wages is one way to accomplish that without putting additional financial burden on the federal government.

Author’s note: The opinions and commentary included in this report are based on the author’s original reporting and independent analysis of public information.

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