Thursday, July 06, 2006

We’ve been derelict

While we've been busy on other items, we've neglected to mention efforts in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has joined other supporters advocating an increase in the minimum wage. They do so as part of their ongoing concern about the dignity of low-income families struggling to break out of poverty and provide for their families. More information on their position is here. Also interesting is this:
Occasionally in Washington, there are contrasts so stark that they're illuminating. Consider the turf congressional Republicans have staked out on two pocketbook issues. Raise their own six-figure salaries? Absolutely. Raise the meager minimum wage? Absolutely not.

To the cynical it might seem that the key consideration here is whose pocketbook they're talking about. The scrooges in Congress should relent and give the working poor a raise.

Democrats, to their credit, are trying to shame supporters of the skewed, Republican agenda. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said they will block pay raises for members of Congress until the minimum wage is increased. Senators Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and others want to tie all future cost-of-living increases for Congress to minimum wage increases. That may be more politics than policy, but it does hammer home the point that the cost of living rises for the working poor just as it does for well-heeled lawmakers.

Rank and file members of Congress make $165,200 a year. On the table this year? A $3,300 hike to $168,500. In the nine years since the last minimum-wage increase, members of Congress have gotten cost-of-living raises totaling $31,600 a year.

We think it is time to write, call or e-mail your representative and ask him or her to support raising the minimum wage.