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Senate Republicans Block Minimum Wage Hike

Once again, a filibuster led by Senate Republicans has blocked a bill that would increase the Federal minimum wage to $10.10:

WASHINGTON — A proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, an underpinning of President Obama’s economic agenda and an issue that Democrats hope to leverage against Republicans in the midterm elections, failed in the Senate on Wednesday.

The vote was 54 to 42, with 60 votes needed to advance the measure.

All but one Republican voted to sustain a filibuster against the measure, saying that the increase would damage the fragile economy and force businesses to cut hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Democrats were mostly united behind the bill.

Senators of both parties took to the floor on Wednesday morning to debate the real-world implications of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25, a rate that has been unchanged since 2009.

Senator Mike Enzi, Republican of Wyoming, said the 40 percent increase to $10.10 was too large a cost for businesses to bear. “The proposal before the Senate throws cold water on job creation and it adds to the burdens businesses are already facing,” he said. “Instead the Senate should be considering proposals which promote job growth.”

Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, faulted Republicans for not allowing the bill to move forward. “Right now, if you work 40 hours a week in America, in the greatest country in the world, at a federal minimum wage, you make barely over $15,000 a year,” he said. “Think about how crazy that is.”

Mr. Obama was planning to address the vote in a speech from the White House later Wednesday.

Politics were as much a part of the debate as the larger questions of economic impact and the vitality of the middle class. Polls show the public supports an increase. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that two-thirds of the public favors a rise to $10.10.

“I’m confident that if we don’t raise the minimum wage in Congress before the election, the American people are going to speak about this at the ballot box in November,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa. “They’ll hold their elected officials responsible and accountable.”

I wouldn’t be so sure about that if I were Democrats. While polling has shown that a minimum wage increase does indeed have broad public support, there’s basically no evidence that it is the kind of issue that motivates voters, or causes them to support one candidate over an other. In that respect, it’s a high support/low intensity issue much like the public support for enhanced background checks for gun purchases. Much like that issue, I don’t think Democrats should count on it being an issue that will have much of an impact on the midterms.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. beth says:

    If the Democrats were to introduce this bill I don’t know, maybe 42 times and keep letting the Republicans vote it down, over and over all the while hammering the issues in campaign ads and speeches you might be surprised what how important the issue becomes. The fact that they won’t even discuss raising it strikes a chord with people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  2. legion says:

    there’s basically no evidence that it is the kind of issue that motivates voters, or causes them to support one candidate over an other

    I suspect those polls don’t question many people who actually _make_ minimum wage…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  3. James Pearce says:

    Much like that issue, I don’t think Democrats should count on it being an issue that will have much of an impact on the midterms.

    Yes, it is the Democratic way to help American workers, even if it has no impact on the election.

    If they said screw the American worker and focused intently on winning elections above all else, they would cease to be Democrats and become Republicans instead.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  4. mantis says:

    Much like that issue, I don’t think Democrats should count on it being an issue that will have much of an impact on the midterms.

    Especially when Republicans are doing all they can to make sure that people who make minimum wage can’t vote.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  5. Paul Hooson says:

    David Letterman put this best…..”I thought that the economic sanctions were supposed to a be applied to the Russians”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. bill says:

    raising it may encourage people to stagnate in dead end jobs, as well as cause small biz owners to drop some workers and dump the load on the others. choose your poison, min wage jobs are for young people to springboard off- not careers for those who can’t/won’t do anything else. as they say, “everyone can’t be an astronaut”!
    i don’t even know of a place that pays minimum wage around here, must have a decent economy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  7. stonetools says:

    @beth:

    Chuck Schumer has al;ready siaid they are goimng to introduce the bill again and again till it passes.
    “Hammerin” Harry” is going to pursue the same strategy he did with the unemployment insurance extension bill-introduce it again and again while turning up therhetorical heat on the Republicans “How can you vote for tax cuts for billionaires while rejecting minimum wage increases to less than $15,000 a year. Did the Koch brothers tell you to do that?”
    All this will be ad gold, especially if the REpublicans defend themselves with the kind of stupid statements they have been using.
    Ted Cruz actually said he voted that way out of concern from minority youth! Yeah TEd, what about concern for the mothers of those youth, who have to raise them in the current minimum wage?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. gVOR08 says:

    One small hopeful sign is that I’m seeing this reported as “filibustered” or “failed to get 60 votes to allow a vote on the bill” or some such. Used to be just “failed to pass” 54 to 46, leaving the reader to assume it was 54 against. Maybe more of the press are realizing this is not normal and becoming more willing to say so. The real issue is not that Rs hate the min wage, the real issue is R intransigence, and this helps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. beth says:

    @gVOR08: Actually I think they do hate the minimum wage. I see that Tom Coburn was on tv this morning saying he doesn’t believe there should be a federal minimum wage and that if states want one, they could pass their own. I’ve heard the same sentiment from other Republicans. Apparently paying people poverty wages isn’t enough for their corporate overlords; now they want them to exist on crumbs. Remember what Chris Rock said about the minimum wage:
    “I used to work at McDonald’s making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? “Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. stonetools says:

    @gVOR08:
    YEah, until last year, the media uusually had “balanced” “headlines that obscured the reason as to WHY a certasin bill failed, burying the info around about the third paragraph. Usaed to drive me up the wall.
    Now , it looks like the neswpapers have gotten a lot blunter, making it clear that the bills fail due to monolithic Republican opposition. That’s good for the Democrats. I think the strategy will be that Harry Reid will force the Republicans to take unpopular positions again and again, and then have the President make statements pointing that out. For example, Obama will make a speech onthe minimum wage this weekend.
    It looks like it might be even possible that the Democrats are excuting a tightly organized messaging strategy, coordinatinng between the Senate Democrats and the Obama Administration ! Improbable, I know…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. al-Ameda says:

    Meanwhile, by way of contrast:

    In an SEC filing made public Wednesday, Yahoo revealed that the severance package it awarded de Castro, the company’s former chief operating officer who exited the company in January, ended up being worth $58 million. That’s more than three times the $17 million at which it was initially signed.

    Minimum wage equivalent:
    Henrique de Castro works 15 months at Yahoo, does by all accounts a poor job, and gets a $58 million severance package. $58 million is the equivalent of 5,742,575 hours at the proposed $10.10 hourly rate, and that is equal to 2,761 fulltime workers at the new minimum wage for one year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Ben says:

    @bill:

    raising it may encourage people to stagnate in dead end jobs, as well as cause small biz owners to drop some workers and dump the load on the others. choose your poison, min wage jobs are for young people to springboard off- not careers for those who can’t/won’t do anything else. as they say, “everyone can’t be an astronaut”!

    Maybe in an ideal world, those are the only jobs that would pay minimum wage. Here in the real world with this shitty economy, that’s a bunch of malarkey. There are tons of people who are working minimum wage because that’s the only damned job they could get. It’s not just high school students anymore.

    i don’t even know of a place that pays minimum wage around here, must have a decent economy.

    Yes you do, wherever you are; I’m sure there’s a McDonalds and a WalMart nearby.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. bill says:

    @Ben: there are jobs available that many people can’t/won’t do- so the market has to rule what a competitive wage is. and no, walmart and all the fast food joints have to shell out more than minimum wage here.
    weird how nobody talks about high food prices while we have the highest ever amount of people on food stamps?! supply/demand, it does work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  14. An Interested Party says:

    there are jobs available that many people can’t/won’t do- so the market has to rule what a competitive wage is.

    So you’d be happy with no minimum wage at all, eh? If someone were paid, say, $3 or less an hour, that would be no big deal, eh….

    weird how nobody talks about high food prices while we have the highest ever amount of people on food stamps?! supply/demand, it does work.

    Perhaps you could find an economist (that shouldn’t be too hard in your high falutin area) to explain some things to you…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. bill says:

    @An Interested Party: i have worked minimum wage jobs, when i was young. my ability to perform at a certain level in my chosen field means i don’t have to anymore. if i did, i would. more importantly, i live within my means- something that’s virtually un-American these days.
    prices are high on everything, we don’t even complain that gas stays over $3/gal anymore as we’re just used to it. it all intertwines, and gov’t intrusion into wages will not lower prices either.
    curious, did “falutin” pass your spell check?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. DrDaveT says:

    @bill:

    raising it may encourage people to stagnate in dead end jobs

    You prefer that they stagnate on the dole? Or on the street? There are vanishingly few people in dead-end jobs for whom “better job” or “successful entrepreneur” are viable alternatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. bill says:

    @DrDaveT: i prefer they find work that they enjoy, liking what you do will usually make you valuable to your employer and upward mobility is not a bad thing. there is a small % of people who will never attain any kind of employment success, but giving them freebies isn’t going to help them either. it’s not just a American thing, it’s just that here it’s really hard to be a total failure.

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