Home > 2014 > Personal Finance > Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 17 Million Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 17 Million Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage

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I have 17 million reasons for wanting to increase the minimum wage.  Yes, 17 million—the number of children whose lives would be a little more secure if their moms and dads earned at least $10.10 an hour.

When I was in junior high, my daddy had a heart attack. He was home for a while, the medical bills piled up, and we lost our family station wagon.

So my mother did what she had to do: She went to work answering the phones at Sears. The job paid only minimum wage, but it was enough to make sure we could keep our home.

No one should work full time and live in poverty. In 1968, the minimum wage was high enough to keep a family of three out of poverty. In 1980, the minimum wage was at least high enough to keep a family of two out of poverty. Today, the minimum wage leaves a working parent with one child in poverty. This is fundamentally wrong.

For a long time, as our country got richer, both investors and workers made more money. The pie got bigger and we all got a little more. But now the benefits go to those at the top.  If minimum wage had kept up with increases in productivity, it would be $22 an hour today. But it didn’t – and today millions of hard-working moms and dads work full-time and still live in poverty.

Who would benefit from a minimum wage increase? The numbers tell the story: 88% are adults, and one in four has kids. More than 15 million women would see their pay go up, including 4.8 million working mothers—more than one-fifth of all working mothers with a child under the age of 18.

Raising the minimum wage is good economics. It means that people will have more money to spend, and that helps propel the economy forward and give a much-needed boost to many small businesses. Besides, with a higher minimum wage, fewer people will need to count on food stamps or other kinds of government assistance to feed their families. A higher wage means people can provide more for themselves.

So why have the Republicans refused to budge on the minimum wage? Who are they protecting? Certainly not the families and their 17 million children who would be helped.

Who doesn’t want an increase in the minimum wage?  Businesses that have already made it big don’t want any increase in wages that might cut into their profits. The system is rigged in their favor, and they have an army of lawyers and an army of lobbyists to make certain that the system stays tilted their way. Powerful interests might need to be dragged kicking and screaming to raise the minimum wage, but I’m going to keep fighting along with the rest of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate. This is an economic issue, but it is also a moral imperative.

When I was growing up, full-time work would keep your family out of poverty. Now, the game is rigged against working families. It doesn’t have to be this way. For more than a generation now, the middle class has been squeezed, chipped at, and hammered. A higher minimum wage will help build a stronger foundation to grow America’s middle class.

Raising the minimum wage is one way we can start to level the playing field for working families. We should be honoring and rewarding work, and we should be making sure that families who work full time have the chance to raise themselves out of poverty. It’s time to increase the minimum wage for hardworking men and women across the country.

When I think about the minimum wage, I think about my mom and what she did for us.  And then I think about the 17 million kids whose moms or dads could do more for their families, if they just had a fighting chance.

Next, read Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) op-ed, “Let’s Restore Hourly Wages Cut by Obamacare”

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  • Jose E S Roselino

    Fine text.

  • Todd

    How many small businesses have you run, (Sen.) Warren?

  • Steve Miller

    I can’t believe a person with
    as little knowledge about the economy is actually a senator. It is time to recall you immediately, since
    you are not capable of fulfilling your position.

    I have 300 million reasons
    not to raise the minimum wage: 300 million Americans. Why don’t you concentrate on the majority of
    Americans and fight to lower taxes and stop spending 16 trillion dollars of our
    money? We never hear you blather about
    that! If you lowered personal taxes, on
    the small businesses that employ most Americans, they would have more money to
    pay their employees. Right now, they are
    laying off people because of expensive obamacare insurance minimum
    standards. Why don’t you help 300
    million Americans by voting to repeal obamacare?

    I also had a Dad that got
    cancer when I was 15. I had to work at
    15 to help support my parents. It had
    nothing to do with the minimum wage. I
    started at minimum wage because I had no skills. I quickly realized I had to learn more skills
    to earn more. I became an auto mechanic
    and in 3 months, I had my first raise, and my wages continually went up from

    We need smart people running
    our government. You, Warren, need to
    find another job before it is too late for us.

    • Trish Link

      Lowering taxes will not decrease the cost of goods and services. Thats why. The only time the economy moves forward is when wages keep pace with the cost of living. I took economics, and this is 100% what needs to happen. Companies are paying huge salaries that are over the top to the top, and then they are paying huge dividends in stock on top of the salaries. What should be happening is part of those gains need to be put aside for down times. Stocks need to pay a return over time, and no amount of salary and benefits should include stock unless it is paid for through hours worked, and equal across the board. If taxes are lowered the guy renting you the house is not going to decrease the rent. The power company is not going to decrease the cost of electricity or gas. The grocery store isn’t going to drop prices, and neither is anyone else. So the wage needs to go up to reflect the cost of living. Then if people choose to share expenses to save money they will have some saved to spend into the economy and boost non essential spending. This will spur more sales, more production, and lead to possible jobs created to meet demand for products or services. That is how it works.

      But I also agree that our government needs to control spending and cut taxes too. To many businesses are creating corporate offices and moving plants to other countries due to taxation. We are even losing citizens due to taxation. I wouldn’t mind living in Canada myself but it is to cold. Nice all the way around except for whether. Dependence on welfare and Medicaid would decrease resulting in lower government spending.

  • http://www.joetaxpayer.com JoeTaxpayer

    Here’s what you missed – the need for a preemptive strike against the rhetorical “if you raise the cost of employment you get less of it” along with the nonsensical “then why not raise the wage to $50 and we’ll all be rich.”
    The first argument supposes an elasticity of wages that’s simply incorrect. Wages are incrementally inelastic and even the Government study implying about 300K people being put out of work vs 17M helped by the higher wage, fails to account for the positive impact this increase will have on the economy.

  • James Wordsmith

    Maybe if Elizabeth Warren and her relatives didn’t seek quick profits by flipping house in Oklahoma, more working parents could afford starter homes.

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