‘We Must Deliver on This Issue’: Jayapal Vows to Fight for $15 Minimum Wage

Jerri-Lynn here. I like Jayapal – but I have a bad feeling about this. I don’t see the largely MIA Biden going to the mat on this issue.  And I fear the hapless Democrats will still be “fighting for” increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour after the ’24 mid-terms – when they’ll no doubt also be wondering why they got clobbered – yet again.

And as David Sirota tweeted (pointing out the obvious):

How can this be? My answer: enough Democrats who say they support a minimum wage increase are actually happy to see it die – as long as they don’t get tagged as having opposed it. So, that means Democrats, considered collectively, are not so hapless after all.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

The Congressional Progressive Caucus on Saturday welcomed the passage in the Senate of the coronavirus relief bill—calling it “a truly progressive and bold package”—but lamented that it did not include a proposed provision to boost the federal minimum wage and vowed to “continue our pressure on the Senate to pass $15.”

“The minimum wage remains essential policy and we must deliver on this issue,” CPC chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said in a statement.

“We call on the president to lay out his plan in the coming days for providing a desperately needed raise for 32 million Americans,” said Jayapal.

The Democratic congresswoman’s statement came after the Senate’s 50-49 vote along party lines to pass the $1.9 American Rescue Plan following a marathon session. The bill provides one-time $1,400 checks to most Americans, an extension of unemployment benefits, and an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), among other relief measures.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) caused hours of delay after bucking his own party on a proposal for unemployment benefits, with that opposition leading to a less generous compromise provision. Manchin was also among a small handful of Democrats who voted last week against Sen. Bernie Sanders’ effort to reattach a $15 wage provision to the bill.

Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, forced a vote on the wage boost provision last week after the Senate parliamentarian said it violated rules regarding a reconciliation bill. The reconciliation process allowed the Senate to pass the relief bill with a simple majority.

Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, also expressed disappointment with aspects of the Senate-passed relief bill, including the absence of the minimum wage increase and the reduction of weekly unemployment benefits.

In addition to working on “comprehensive reform of the unemployment compensation system in this country,” Dixon said that Congress and the Biden administration must “find a way to pass the Raise the Wage Act and deliver a much-needed increase in the federal minimum wage and elimination of subminimum wages for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities. Sixty percent of workers on the pandemic frontlines would have benefitted from the passage of this act.”

“We cannot truly recover from these crises unless frontline workers have better wages and policymakers eliminate the discriminatory subminimum wages that deprive so many workers—particularly women of color and people with disabilities—of financial stability,” she said.

Once the House passes the bill, Dixon said that Congress must “immediately turn its attention to the continued pressing needs of workers throughout the country.”

The House is expected to take up the bill this week.

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  1. epynonymous

    Why no sick days? if/since a ‘minimum’ wage raise is off the table.

    Is the ‘minimum’ wage really the issue? What percentage of our GDP is spent on minimum wage, — so as to pose a moral risk to raise it? I don’t have the number to hand, but it seems like a joke.

    We count a rising employment rate as ‘good’ but discount decreasing hours worked. Seems like some deliberate, non-scientific choice. Acutally, all moral determinations that claim to be based in Science seem suspect.

    Also, forget the messaging.

    1. Jesper

      Or why not give everybody six weeks of paid vacation per year?
      The office-politicians wouldn’t benefit at all from it since they couldn’t use it but the rest would get some well deserved rest and time to recharge. The essential workers deserves it and since it is probably impossible to decide who is deserving and who is not then give it to everybody.

      1. JohnnySacks

        Ahhh, who deserves it and who doesn’t, the bedrock of Dem party policy. Kill off a policy to provide a service which benefits 100 million people because less than 1% of them somehow don’t deserve it. For the win.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          While non-fans of Means Testing try guessing why the Democrat Liberals are so emotionally invested in Means Testing, have they considered pure Sadism as a motive? What if the Democrat Liberals are simply Marquis de Sade-type Sadists who take delight in torturing poor and near-poor people with Kafka-mazes of proof-of-worthiness and proof-of-deservingness?

          Perhaps we should call them Sadistocrats. Sadistocrat Liberals.

  2. cocomaan

    Do the democrats have the political capital to pass another bill in which minimum wage would be addressed? I doubt it.

    This 1.9t bill could be the only large piece of legislation passed during this congress. That would follow the model of Obama’s only friendly congress after 2008, where they passed ACA and not much else. Also Trump and the Republican congress, which passed major tax cuts and not much else.

    If it’s going to happen, it’s going to take the rest of their political capital to do it. Democrats want to spend that on other issues, though.

    1. XXYY

      if you’re getting zero votes for anything from the opposite party, I don’t see how “political capital” comes into it. The Dems can pass a bill every day if they really want to.

      The only operative question for the Dems is whether they can do enough bitchin’ stuff in the next 18 months to make enough voters vote for them to keep from getting wiped out in 2022.

      “Making a ton of voters really, really like us!” –Dem slogan this term. Hopefully.

  3. DanP66

    A national minimum wage that jumps that much is just a bad idea.

    Do we need an increase in it? Yes.

    Is one that is that big, that fast, during a recession, a good idea?

    Does it make sense at the national level? Not so sure.

    You want to increase wages, reduce the supply of labor and increase demand.

    In short, do what Trump was doing or trying to do. Cut down on immigration and make it really expensive to import goods. Fewer illegals over the southern border that compete for the lowest paying jobs. Fewer H1Bs to compete with technical workers. Then make it painful for companies to produce in low cost places like China and Vietnam etc where they go to get cheap labor, avoid US working condition requirements and avoid the cost of being environmentally responsible.

    Not that frigging hard to figure out. If demand for labor goes up, then wages and benefits go up.

    Just do not push so far that it is cheaper to automate.

    1. a different chris

      It wasn’t “that big that fast during a recession”.

      It was freaking staged over I think – not going to waste my time looking it up both because you can’t be bothered to inform yourself and it’s in the trash bin now anyway – 5 years. The first year was, again IIRC, a step to $11/hr which is hardly insane.

      >In short, do what Trump was doing or trying to do.

      He wasn’t trying to do anything except mug for the camera.

      Immigration isn’t really the problem as you show by immediately contradicting yourself in two sentences, split by a sentence that shows you aren’t even thinking about this:

      First Assertion: Fewer illegals over the southern border that compete for the lowest paying jobs. Fewer H1Bs to compete with technical workers. Then make it painful for companies to produce in low cost places like China and Vietnam etc where they go to get cheap labor

      Pointless and wrong filler: Fewer H1Bs to compete with technical workers. H1B’s may or may not keep my salary down, but I assure you that “technical workers” in the US, even ones from EastKaBleep India (some of whom are my friends) make more than $15/hr. Today, not 5 years from now.

      Second Assertion: Then make it painful for companies to produce in low cost places like China and Vietnam etc where they go to get cheap labor

      So is the problem immigration of people, or importation of their output? Try to at least be consistent, here.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The problem is immigration of people AND importation of their output.

        Free Immigration is about bringing semi-slaves to the non-exportable workplaces here.

        Free Trade is about sending the exportable workplaces to the semi-slaves already in place overseas.

        Immigration should be controlled. Illegal immigration should be banned. For Real. By imprisoning-for-life every person who hires any illegal immigrant for any purpose. That’s using the carceral state the way it should be used. That’s what its there for.

        Free Trade should be banned. Every Free Trade Agreement should be abrogated and every Free Trade Organization should be withdrawn from and its every visible building and office within the borders of the US should be emptied out and burned down.

    2. tegnost

      Is one that is that big, that fast, during a recession, a good idea?
      oh come on, it was staged in over many years.

    3. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      “Automation” as a threat makes me laugh. Why? If the bosses could make it happen, they would have already done so.

      I’ll see that threat and raise it with massive work stoppages and consumer strikes.

      Who’s got the power?

    4. pebird

      It certainly wasn’t fast. In 2021 the wage was to be increased to 9.50, getting to $15 by 2025!

      I suggest the Dems just try to get the $9.50 passed for 2021. If even that can’t get through, it tells the public something.

    5. chuck roast

      “…cheaper to automate.” The invisible hand…working its awe inspiring magic! “Demand for labor goes up and wages and benefits go up”…simple indeed for people who don’t waste too much brain power trying to figure out that “markets” are the kabuki theatre in our neolib paradise. Yet another slap in the face for the working stiffs and a fist for the migrants. “…US working condition requirements and avoid the cost being environmentally responsible.” This line is utterly devoid of thought that the “dope” algorithm should have moderated it out. OSHA? EPA? NEPA? All shells of their former selves. Life expectancy in the US is going down. Maybe you should take a bit of time and recalibrate.

  4. Jim Hannan

    Twenty states and DC now have a minimum wage of at least $10 per hour. That represents 130 million people, 40% of the country. Mitt Romney and a few other Republican senators have offered a $10 per hour minimum, which would increase the wage in thirty states, representing 60% of the country.
    Democrats have at least two choices. They can try to fashion a deal with at least ten Republicans to raise the wage, perhaps in the $11 range. This might mean accepting a stronger E-verify system on new hires.
    A second choice is to use the 2nd budget reconciliation act of 2021 and include it there. There is a 2nd one in 2021 because it was not used in 2020. This can be a big infrastructure bill and can pass with 50 Democratic votes. The Senate president, Kamala Harris, might need to override a ruling from the Senate parliamentarian to allow the minimum wage increase to stay in the bill.
    If it is just Democrats, I believe that a raise in the $12 range is possible. For many workers, this will mean a $5 per hour raise, or $10,000 per year for a full time worker.

    1. tegnost

      I believe that a raise in the $12 range is possible”
      you’ll get nothing and like it is much, much, much…more likely.
      But they did manage to pick up the tab for labor costs to industry so while we can’t raise wages, we can give money to the corps who won’t pay them, a kind of basic income.

  5. Aaron

    “And I fear the hapless Democrats will still be “fighting for” to increase the minimum wage to $15 after the ’24 mid-terms – when they’ll no doubt also be wondering why they got clobbered – yet again.”

    I have a feeling that this quote will turn out to be spot on. Gotta frame and hang this on the wall, so to speak.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      What is it that Lambert says: “blushing modestly.” If you’re going to frame it, note that I just changed that awkward “fighting for” to increase phrasing to “fighting for” increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour- which I think reads better. Plus I added per hour.

  6. The Rev Kev

    There are actually a lot of good reasons why there should not be a $15 an hour pay-rise when you get down to it. But you would have to be one of the elite to benefit by denying it to others. So, if you had a general $15 an hour minimum wage, that would encourage wages to slowly rise across the board for the whole country. By denying it, you keep people on poverty wages who will work under all sorts of conditions for a pittance because they are so desperate. Mission accomplished!

    And keeping minimum wages flat for so many years and while the country goes through year two of this pandemic means that a lot of people will lose their homes. And the banks will be there to seize those homes to sell them to Wall Street investors who will buy them up and use as cheap rentals. A knock-on effect is that this will send a lot of landlords broke and again the banks will be there waiting to pick up those apartment building for dirt cheap for a quick turnaround. Same too for cars as well.

    Of course it may be that with so may loans unpaid that would not be good for Wall Street but who is to say that they have not shorten those loans so that they make more when those ones are not paid back? Add in what Wall Street will make selling all that real estate and the general effect of putting a dampener on any wage rises and they may come out of this looking sweet.

    1. a different chris

      >Of course it may be that with so may loans unpaid that would not be good for Wall Street but who is to say that they have not shorten those loans so that they make more

      They won’t come out of this looking nearly as sweet as far as absolute $$s go. Debts that can’t be paid won’t be paid, as somebody smarter than me said.

      However: you are actually correct that they would be happy with your outcome. The point of being a big shot for virtually all big shots, is not the amount in whatever valuation their fortune is valued in as it’s more money than they and several generations of their offspring can spend, but the ability to lord it over others.

      I don’t think for example the Winklevoss’ care that much about just crossing the 1 billion mark because Zuckerberg can still buy and sell them without even noticing. They would be just physically just as comfortable, and mentally just as (family blog)ed up, if they were worth 100 million and Zuck was worth 9 billion. Or they were worth 10 billion and Zuck was the first trillionaire.

      None of these people care “how lucky they have it”. If they did they would have stopped quite a while ago.

      1. Tom Doak

        But that was the whole point of Piketty’s book — once you HAVE wealth, it is now almost impossible for it not to keep growing by the millions just by putting it into any half sound investment, because the government bails out the stock market and the business sector ahead of the citizenry. No one in the media ever points out that they are really bailing out not the businesses but the stockholders and bondholders, i.e. the wealthy.

  7. tegnost

    Of course it may be that with so may loans unpaid that would not be good for Wall Street
    Don’t worry, biden will give them money to cover the loss

  8. Eureka Springs

    If I were a progressive and I had a bot that wrote inhuman tweets like that I would smash it into a hundred pieces on a sidewalk with a hammer.

    I have another question about Jayapal and her 2019 medicare for all bill. Doesn’t a bill like that have to be reintroduced with a new congress? I can find no evidence she has done so? So here we the people sit without so much as an M4A bill to vote for?


  9. MDA

    I feel like the whole minimum wage topic is such a misdirect and abdication by the government of its responsibilities. Whatever it take to keep people at a minimum acceptable standard of living should be provided to everyone by the government (i.e. of, by & for the people). Income from employment should be over and above, and be whatever amount to which employee and employee might agree. Every employer is different and none of them have infinite resources to pay employees. The federal government is the only entity with a limitless supply of funds, but somehow we’re stuck in this paradigm where its an employers responsibility to close the gap between what’s needed to enjoy a minimum standard of living and what’s paid to employees as compensation for work. I don’t blame politicians for voting against minimum wage since it seems obviously unfair to employers. The obvious alternative of universal basic income needs to be part of the conversation.

    1. Chris

      If the federal government has a limitless supply of funds, then why do we have money at all? Last time I checked, government didn’t invent money. Printing free money does not result in production and growth. How is it possible in 2021 people still think this is true?

      1. SteveW

        It does not necessarily reduce production and growth. It is a distribution issue. It is a mind set of sharing and equity. Government is the only organization in a position to deal with it. The Scandinavian countries enjoy a good standard of living as well as having more equitable distribution of production and growth. Think about it, use the 1960s standard of living and simply add technology improvements to it. What should the current standards be for the average person? Education? Health care? Growth and production have not been the issues. Distribution is the issue.

  10. Carolinian

    Back in the day it was the union movement that drove regular minimum wage increases because they knew the minimum wage put a floor under all other wages. Now that the Dem party is the PMC party rather than our labor party they’ve lost interest. It’s really that simple.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      You gotta keep housekeeping, landscaping, delivery, and their Uber drivers in their place.

      Plus the PMC has to tell themselves that they *earned* this, and the other people didn’t work hard enough. What they were born into apparently not a factor at all.

      1. Bart

        And you have to make the military attractive to the young by keeping wages of the jobs you mention low.

  11. DJG, Reality Czar

    I hesitate to mention the video of Kristen Sinema making the rounds, the little curtsey, the designer bag, the thumbs down. This is the level of sleaze that the Democrats have allowed themselves. And it is sleazy.

    There won’t be a raise because, as Carolinian points out above, the Democrats are not the party of the working class. Let’s define working class as anyone who works for wages–that’s 80 percent of the population.

    What is going on is at a deeper level, though, and is currently unacknowledged. Matt Taibbi is circulating an enlightening interview with Martin Gurri today. Gurri notes that the leadership class is mainly performative–Trump, kente cloth stoles, Ilhan Omar’s elaborate headwraps, Ted Cruz’s endless shambling, and Sinema, sexual revolutionary + class oppressor. Beto in the dentist office! Mayor Pete on a bike!

    Here’s a quote from Gurri that caught my eye and should be thrown into the analysis of this post: “There can be no question that, with Joe Biden as president, we have entered a moment of reaction — a revolt against the revolt.”

    The minimum wage simply isn’t on the agenda of those revolting against the revolt. Their agenda is to shore up their own power.

  12. Jim Hannan

    In terms of specifics to getting to a bill, I think that the framework is in place. Patty Murray chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The ranking Democratic member is Bernie Sanders. Maggie Hassan is one of the eight Democratic senators that voted against raising the minimum to $15 and is a member of the committee. On the Republican side, Richard Burr is the minority ranking member, while Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are all members.
    In the House, the Education and Labor committee chair is Bobby Scott, the ranking Republican is Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.
    Biden’s new Labor Secretary is Marty Walsh, the Mayor of Boston and a former head of the local Laborers Union. Susan Rice is the new head of the White House Office of Domestic Policy.
    Bernie Sanders has done a lot in terms of bringing this issue to the fore. Now he has the chance to make policy. There is a deal to be made, bringing in the more moderate Democrats and Republicans. The Republicans claim to be the party of the white working class. Let’s see if that’s true.

    1. tegnost

      Really? A link to the republicans claiming they are the party of the “white working class”myself thinks you are projecting your non woke view, and what is the point of all of your name dropping? What is the senator who has overseen boeings war against labor going to do in your opinion? Susan Rice is qualified for “domestic policy” (what is that?) for what reason. What is her goal as head of domestic policy that gives you hope (sorry, i know obama totally ruined that word)? And Bernie? democrats are not going to do anything bernie supports but yet parade his name out to make it seem like they’re not total weasels. Leave him out of it. Let’s talk about those who matter like joe manchin and kristen sinema. You yourself said $11/hr is fine above. As for your also above comment about how a $5/hr increase in wages (forget for the time being that that 5 dollars is phased in over 5 years) is a wow! 10,000 raise for “most workers” once again, citation on that because typical large low wage employers want more employees working fewer hours so that their health care costs don’t burden the bottom line, and will also bump those workers into higher cost healthcare since now they’re paid so well right? Paging the restless spirit of dante… time for a 10th circle of hell.

      1. tegnost

        Just to help you out a little here’s an opinion piece from brookings speculating that rice will be merging national security council and domestic policy. Is that because the political class is at war with the people?. At some point the people might fight back and they will need to be squashed, no?
        Biden 2020- He’ll crash it faster.

  13. Telee

    Interesting how reform in the US gets blocked over long periods of time. During the Clinton presidency the $15 minimum wage was advocated. and a national healthcare policy was advocated by president Truman as well as president Teddy Roosevelt. Neither are in place in 2021. And won’t be for the foreseeable future. Who has the power in this country? David Sirota says that although Biden is in the White House, Joe Manchin runs the presidency.

  14. Sound of the Suburbs

    It’s supposed to be like that.

    The early neoclassical economists hid the problems of rentier activity in the economy by removing the difference between “earned” and “unearned” income and they conflated “land” with “capital”.
    They took the focus off the cost of living that had been so important to the Classical Economists as this is where rentier activity in the economy shows up.

    It’s so well hidden no one even knows it’s there.

    “Income inequality is not killing capitalism in the United States, but rent-seekers like the banking and the health-care sectors just might” Angus Deaton, Nobel prize winner.
    OK, he does.

    The equation comes from Michael Hudson’s work, it’s just in a mathematical form.

  15. dummy

    It is paradoxical but true that the more effort there is to stimulate employment artificially, the less real employment there is.
    Nothing could increase available employment more vigorously than to allow its wage cost to decline to a free market level. Inflation results from high wages in full employment because money inflation, itself the cause of price inflation, is the only known stimulant strong enough to create work when excessively high wages do not permit a free market for work to exist.
    There is nothing that says a free market in labor must come back. The nation can do without it; not well, but it can do. It is not a matter of life and death, but only of more prosperity or less, more employment or less. Intransigent labor can continue to demand an ever-larger share of an ever-smaller pie, until in the end it owns the entire share of an empty plate. That is exactly what it will do if it decides that even that is better than the terrors of a free market.

    1. tegnost

      outside of the fact that we do not have anything vaguely resembling a free market I find this statement to be not supported by evidence…

      Intransigent labor can continue to demand an ever-larger share of an ever-smaller pie

      You haven’t notices that the rich are richer than ever? What
      ever smaller pie are you talking about?

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