Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Minimum wage get majority Senate support, still fails

Senate Fails to Raise Minimum Wage - New York Times:
A labor-backed measure by Sen. Edward Kennedy would have raised the minimum to $6.25 over an 18-month period. A Republican counterproposal would have combined the same $1.10 increase with various breaks and exemptions for small businesses.

The Kennedy amendment to a spending bill went down 51-47, and the GOP alternative 57-42. Under a Senate agreement, they would have needed 60 votes for approval.

Kennedy, D-Mass., said Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the depth of poverty in the country and he pointed out that a single parent with two children working a minimum wage earns $10,700 a year, $4,500 below the poverty line.

He said it was "absolutely unconscionable" that in the same period that Congress has denied a minimum wage increase, lawmakers have voted themselves seven pay raises worth $28,000.
The increase in the minimum wage would parallel the rise in Congressional salary, roughly a 20% increase. This is a rate that fails to match inflation, according to the CPI calculator. A rise that matched inflation would take the minimum wage to $6.38. (To get that, find out how much buying power $5.15 in 1997 would have in 2005 dollars.)