In 2008 the economy crashed around our ears. Many Seniors who invested in the stock market saw their life savings and retirement funds go down the drain. Many were unable to retire because of the crash. Since then, we have gone through political battles to help recover from the worst recession since the great depression of the 1930s.
The economy has grown steadily since President Obama took office. We have seen over 56 straight months of private sector job growth. We have seen the stock market recover even to the record highs. The rich are getting richer. The housing market in many areas seems to be recovering, though it is still sluggish in other parts of the country. Unemployment is below 6%, the lowest since early 2008. Even productivity is up. No one is talking about the economy as a real problem anymore.
Yet, there is one aspect of the economy that the Democrats seem not to be talking about enough. We are facing the largest income inequality since the 1920s. If you don’t remember you history, that was before the unions began gaining strength. The economic recovery we are currently seeing has not been equitable. Meaning that the rich are getting richer and the rest of us are maintaining the status quo. Over 95% of all income gains in this recovery has gone to the top 1% of income earners. That doesn’t leave much for the middle class to see their income increase.
For the last few years there has been a major push to raise the minimum wage. Especially by those who are forced to labor at the minimum wage. The Republicans are naturally against raising the minimum wage. That is part of their basic DNA. We have heard the same arguments about the minimum wage as we heard every time the subject came up in the past.
The first argument is that it will cost jobs. The Republicans have even put a number of 500,000 jobs lost if we raise the minimum wage. However, some places have already raised the minimum wage on their own and they have not seen any job losses. To the contrary, they have seen job growth as a result. Higher wages means more people are spending money. That means the economy grows and more demand means more jobs to meet that demand.
That caring Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin says the minimum wage is not necessary. Though he claims he wouldn’t repeal it, he feels it doesn’t mean anything. Then you have the felon and current Governor of Florida, Jim Scott who says that private business determines wages. When asked about what he thought the minimum wage should be during his last debate, he saidhe doesn’t know what the minimum wage should be, it is up to business to determine it. So, as usual, he won’t answer the question even during a debate.
Republicans like Chris Christie try to make it sound like only young people work for minimum wage. To paraphrase him, he said that he doesn’t know of families sitting around the table talking about how if their children got a raise all of their dreams would come true. Problem is that the vast majority of minimum wage employees are about 30 years of age. They are mostly single women trying to support their families. I guess Christie doesn’t care if these women and their families’ dreams come true.
Republicans are continuously complaining that too many people are on government assistance. They claim that everyone is just lazy and won’t get a decent job and that is why government assistance programs are spending too much money. Well, if the minimum wage is raised to just 10.10 per hour as the President wants, approximately 1.7 million low-income workers will go off of government assistance. How is that for reducing government assistance spending?
Another side effect of raising the minimum wage is that the tax base increases. Since people will be making a living wage, they will pay more taxes meaning more revenue for local, state, and federal governments. Thereby helping to reduce budget deficits.
Republicans claim that they are the voice of “real Americans” and only vote their interests. Well surveys show that almost 70% of the American People want the minimum wage increased. That number includes 54% of registered Republicans. If the Republicans really are interested in doing the people’s will, they would leap at the opportunity to raise the minimum wage since even the majority of their own party want it raised.
The unfortunate aspect in all of this is that the Democrats are not running with this topic. There are few races like in Wisconsin and Florida where the opponents of the Republicans are making hay of it, but not many more. That is a real shame. The real problem I have with the Democratic Party is their lack of a backbone. They seem to run races on the basis that they know they are right on most items, and believe they will get elected simply by being right. They won’t attack their opponents on things that matter.
They don’t take the poll numbers on things like raising the minimum wage and let everyone know that their Republican opponent won’t support it. They don’t mention how it will reduce government assistance. No, they simply believe that people will just vote their way because they are right. If the Democrats don’t retain the Senate this mid-term, they will have themselves to blame.
If the Democrats ran with just half of the passion that their right-wing opponents have, this would have been an easy mid-term election for them to win. I remember a time when Democrats ran with passion. They were quick to point out the differences between them and their opponents. That passion has been lost somewhere. Too many Democrats are basically afraid to get into a real fight for principles that would help the American People. America would listen if they would just speak up.