A new poll out Wednesday shows two thirds of Americans want to see the minimum wage raised. Washington Post/ABC poll released today found that 66 percent of Americans want to see the minimum wage raised to at least $9 per hour only 31 percent are opposed. Among supporters 48 percent feel strongly that the wage be raised.
This poll is consistent with every recent poll on the subject. Tuesday Public Policy Polling released a poll showing 56 percent wanted to see the wage raised to $10 an hour.
The Washington Post/ABC poll has a margin or error of 3.5 percent plus or minus. They surveyed 1,005 adults from Dec. 12 to 15. PPP polled 1,316 registered voters from Dec. 12 to 15 and that poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
A bill has been introduced in the Senate by Democrats that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10. President Barack Obama made raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of his recent speech on inequality. It is not clear that that or any minimum wage bill would get the 60 votes to clear cloture and allow it to come up for a vote since there are only 55 Democrats in the Senate.
In the House, the situation is much bleaker. Speaker John Boehner is not likely to allow any bill raising the minimum wage to come up for a vote. He said “it will kill jobs.
If he allowed it to come to the floor for a vote, the measure may pass with mostly Democratic votes if 18 Republicans out of 235 could be found to vote for it.
If there were a plebiscite on the issue, however, voters in nearly every Congressional District in the nation would likely vote to raise the minimum wage. Almost without exception, whenever the minimum wage is on the ballot, voters approve it. In November, New Jersey voted to raise the minimum wage, which Governor Christie vetoed, on the same ballot that re-elected him.
Studies show that the American taxpayer is footing the bill for the companies who do not pay their workers enough to live on. Upwards of 52% of full time fast-food workers who make at or near minimum wage are receiving government assistance funded by taxpayers. Twenty five percent of the entire work force receives public assistance. They qualify for Food stamps, Medicaid, Assistance to Women and Infants, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
When it is totaled up, average taxpayers are paying $243 billion a year in taxes so that corporate executives can get huge bonuses and their shareholders can reap profits. What’s worse, many of those wealthy executives shelter their subsidized income on top of that and pay little tax.
Fast food workers have been staging wild-cat strikes around the nation to bring attention to the issue. Workers at Walmart have also staged protests. Despite this, there has been no movement by any fast food chain or Walmart to raise the minimum wage.
There is a misconception that most minimum wage earners are high school kids. Facts, however, do not bear that out. Due to the recession, the majority of fast food workers are actually middle aged women working to support their families sometimes with more than one job since they seldom get 40 hours a week.
Republicans and conservative “think tanks” have always argued that raising the minimum wage kills jobs; however, there is no credible evidence to support that. The corporations that generally pay low wages like McDonalds are extremely profitable. They could absorb the cost without impacting their share price. They wouldn’t absorb, it however, they would simply pass the cost on to the price of a hamburger. The price increase would most likely not be noticed.
What is likely to happen is that voters in the various states will begin raising the minimum wage on a piecemeal city by city or state by state basis like the town of SeaTac, Washington did in November. On Tuesday, Washington DC City Council raised the minimum wage to $11.25. As this happens, it will become too costly for big companies to deal with and they will ask Congress to fix it.
Meanwhile, Americans can keep on being taxed to subsidize these big companies.