When politicians run for office, they are supposed to represent all of their constituents. But how many of them really are in touch with the every day struggles of the working class.
In fact, how many of them even know what the minimum wage is? Very few.
It became all too apparent when three Republican candidates vying for the party nomination in Missouri were asked whether they knew the federal minimum wage, and whether they would agree to raise it. All three unanimously agreed that there should be no increase — despite the fact that they had no idea what the current wage was.
As Think Progress reports, “The candidates’ explanations for not wanting to raise the minimum wage ranged from nonsensical (Brunner said his business gave ‘better than the minimum benefits’) to extreme, with Akin calling for scrapping the minimum wage altogether. ‘I don’t think the government should be setting prices on wages in any way shape or form,’ said Akin. Steelman was opposed to raising the minimum wage because she ‘think[s] it’s high enough as it is.’ A person working a minimum-wage job for 40-hour work weeks with no vacation would earn just $15,080 over the course of the year, before taxes.”
Is there an assumption that those who earn the bare minimum don’t vote? That idea, along with the callousness of not believing a worker deserves enough money to at least be able to live on without needing government assistance, could come back to haunt many during the 2012 election. Greg Sargent notes that the Missouri exchange serves “as the latest example of Republicans being beholden to corporate benefactors, and scapegoating people on the lowest rungs of the income ladder for our continued economic suffering. Given that the issue will likely be key in other campaigns and even in the presidential race, how this argument fares in a red-leaning state will be a key test case worth watching.”
Should the minimum wage be raised? Doesn’t it benefit everyone when workers can support themselves without assistance? It seems that to be a Republican in 2012, your answer has to be “no.”
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