Raising the Minimum Wage (Good for Nancy Pelosi)

Via Travis Waldron at ThinkProgress:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called on Republican House leadership to take up legislation recently introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) that would raise the federal minimum wage above $10 an hour. Miller and Harkin announced the bill, which would set the minimum wage at $10.10 per hour and index it to inflation so it raised automatically thereafter, this week.

Pelosi cited recent stock gains that pushed markets to record highs even as worker incomes remain stagnant as her reason for backing the legislation, The Hill reports:

“This week, we saw something quite remarkable, the stock market soaring to record heights. At the same time, we see productivity keeping pace,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “But we don’t see income for America’s middle class rising. In fact, it’s been about the same as since the end of the Clinton years.” […]

“If we are going to honor our commitment to the middle class,” she said, “we have to reflect that intention in our public policy.”

43 replies
  1. 1
    srv says:

    I’m not sure how this fits into the new Left-Libertarian Movement that Sully, Bobo and Reason will be talking about for the next 6 months.

  2. 2
    trollhattan says:

    Nancy SMASH.

    “Job killer.”

    Let’s see the rollcall of Republicans who think this is bad for ‘murka. All of them? Quelle surprise, but we’ll talk in ’14.

  3. 3
    Schlemizel says:

    Adjusted for inflation the minimum wage of 1968 would be a bit over $19 an hour. That would be about right.

    BTW – today more than 40% of American workers make LESS than $19 an hour.

    70% of the GDP is consumer spending – if the solution is not obvious you really need some remedial math

  4. 4
    Suffern ACE says:

    @srv: yep. First leftist to give up social insurance to protect themselves from firms of government repression that hasn’t even manifested itself yet.

  5. 5
    Mandalay says:

    Demanding $10.10 and reluctantly settling for $9 seems to be a viable plan:

    Some 71 percent of those surveyed said they supported raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour from $7.25, while 27 percent opposed it, according to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday.

    And throw in some “yet again we see how the Republicans in Congress are out of touch with America, and only interested in serving their rich paymasters” for good measure.

    And if the Republicans refuse to go along with the indexing, remind the world on a daily basis that the salaries of those in Congress are indexed.

    I can’t see how the Republicans get anything out of this, whatever the outcome.

  6. 6

    I would have said there was no way this will happen, because it’s a liberal policy that helps the poor, and thus exactly what the hate-driven wing of the Republican Party (IE, all of it) hates the most. However, the despair I predicted seems to be setting in. SOMETHING is setting in. Orange Julius has repeatedly buckled and passed things with Dem votes and a few Republicans. I can no longer be sure.

  7. 7
    MikeJ says:


    Adjusted for inflation the minimum wage of 1968 would be a bit over $19 an hour.

    The minimum wage in 1968 was $1.60 an hour. That’s $10.59 in today’s money.

  8. 8
    NotMax says:

    Needs to be pointed out that when Ms. Pelosi held the gavel, and with it the authority to determine what would and would not be put onto the House calendar for a floor vote, the silence on this issue was deafening.

    Also too the first, the minimum wage has next to nothing to do with adjusting “middle class income.” Lower class income, yes.

    Also too the second, stagnant “since the end of the Clinton years” is a purposefully misleading construction. Middle class income, in real terms when adjusted for inflation, has been in decline since at least Reagan’s first term.

  9. 9
    Petorado says:

    This is so going to kill the Democrat’s hold on the youth vote. Republicans tell me the biggest problem facing younger people isn’t their inability to survive on perilously low wages, it’s the national debt. Per a previous thread, they could be characterized as “the new Hitler youth” vote.

  10. 10
    mdblanche says:


    Some 71 percent of those surveyed said they supported raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour from $7.25, while 27 percent opposed it, according to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday.

    There’s that number again…

  11. 11
    Yutsano says:


    while 27 percent opposed it


    @mdblanche: JINX!!

  12. 12
    ruemara says:

    I hope it passes. I really don’t want anyone to go through the shit I’ve been going through. We need real wages for the real work being done.

  13. 13
    mclaren says:

    Look for Ezra Klein to trot out some antique junkthink to ridicule the very idea of a minimum wage, some train of garbled logic so laughable that it was trotted out by J. B. Say in the late 18th century and debunked by John Stuart Mill in the early 19th century…

    Oh – wait! Ezra Klein already did!

    Of course, Harvard-educated $750,000-a-year D.C. darling pundit Ezra Klein apparently hasn’t seen the overwhelming economic research proving that an increase in the minimum wage doesn’t reduce employment…but then, after all, what can you expect for a mere $750,000 a year?

    Incidentally, Ezra Klein majored in philosophy at Harvard. He’s not an economist. He really shouldn’t embarrass himself by spewing drivel like this.

  14. 14
    Suffern ACE says:

    @mclaren: ok. I did this the other week, too, so I’m not pointing and laughing. But Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein are two different people.

  15. 15
    Mike in NC says:

    House GOP far more likely to vote to abolish minimum wage altogether.

  16. 16
    Citizen Alan says:


    Republicans lie. No one under the age of 50 gives a shit about the national debt. People care about unemployment and the economy, not what obscure bond ratings agencies think about our financial policies.

  17. 17
    Jay C says:


    So what if it’s “lower class income” that gets boosted by an increase in the minimum wage? People at the lower ends of the income don’t buy stuff, too? Obviously not as much as richer folks, but they’re still going to putting some of that money back into the economy…

    This IS good news for Democrats: it’s a simple, basic “lunch bucket” issue with a decent amount of public support: and in a time of record corporate profits – AND fundamental wage stagnation across virtually all the non-1%-er sectors of the economy – pitchable as a matter of simple fairness.

    Which is, of course, why Congressional Republicans will fight it tooth and nail (and probably kill or neuter any minimum-wage bill that might actually reach the floor). Which will be a good thing to remind folks of come the next elections….

  18. 18
    Yutsano says:

    @Jay C: Minimum wages also have positive effects upon wages for higher earning groups as well. When labour becomes more expensive the incentive to keep the people you have becomes greater, so in order to retain your staff corporations are forced to raise their wages as well or risk losing good talent. I’m not saying an architect is going to jump right into a minimum wage job, but it does cause pressure on companies to increase their salaries.

  19. 19
    jamick6000 says:

    sorry, this is very off topic but in case you missed it: http://wonkette.com/505026/won.....n-criminal

    James O’Keefe settled the lawsuit against him by a former ACORN employee. He has to pay $100,000. ha!

  20. 20
    NotMax says:

    @Jay C

    So what if it’s “lower class income” that gets boosted by an increase in the minimum wage? People at the lower ends of the income don’t buy stuff, too.

    Sheesh. I triple-dog dare you to point to anything – a word, even a syllable – where I so much as hinted at being against increasing the minimum wage.

    Pelosi’s using it as some kind of panacea for the middle class remains misapplied.

  21. 21
    Jay C says:


    For the sake of the national economy, I hope you’re right. The problem as I see it, is that the sort of “multiplier effect” you describe on wages might hold for the sort of jobs where the employees actually are “corporate staff”. However, in the American economy in 2013, an unhappily large percentage of “jobs” – especially those with wages down at the Federal-minimum level – are with the sort of employers (fast-food, cheap-food, discount retailing, big-box retailing, call-centers, etc) who view their employees as disposable cogs, and minimum-wage laws as an unholy trespass on their sacred profit margins. Which isn’t, IMO, going to change until and unless the level of national employment (across ALL sectors of the economy) rises to the point where wage inflation might start to set in. Which unfortunately, I can;t see happening any time soon.

  22. 22
    Jay C says:


    Sorry, no intention of suggesting you were against raising the MR: just noting its effects…

  23. 23
    NotMax says:


    Thanks for that.

    As for multiplier effects, with manufacturing down to less than 20% of the economy (and still dropping), that is more difficult to gauge than it once was. The minimum wage has been raised several times since the 70s, and middle class income has continued to decrease. Not saying there is no affect; rather that there is not nearly the tightly integrated parallel as there once was.

    That said, anything that even in a small way can be utilized to pare down some slice of the carried credit balances among the middle, lower middle and lower classes is a Good Thing.

  24. 24

    $10 an hour minimum wage helps the middle-class, how?

    The notion of “middle-class” needs to be revisited if we’re to have a reasonable conversation about this nonsense. I’m “middle-class” in the old-timey-stuffy-sense of living a WASPy life (without the prohibition on drunkenness), but I make a whopping $17.50 an hour for doing what is considered a professional job, and I’m far from being in some esoteric “middle-class.”

    To be middle-class, one must have an annual income of between $75K-150K with no more than 4 dependents. Shit, how many 2 income families fall into this range when the kiddies are young? Everybody I know got there after their younguns growed up.

    Anyway, $10 an hour minimum wage is great for the working poor but does jack-shit for the middle-class (who seem to be becoming the working almost-not-poor.) Funny how we don’t want to talk about the 212 billionaires that have popped up recently.

    I am drunk and will now resume drinking. Sorry for the interruption.

  25. 25
    Anne Laurie says:


    Also too the first, the minimum wage has next to nothing to do with adjusting “middle class income.” Lower class income, yes.

    Yes, but over the last 40 years we’ve so demonized the poor/lower class/working class that nobody wants to be identified that way. In modern America, there are Middle Class people, “Doing Okay”/”Job Creator” people, Middle-except-right-at-the-moment-broke-Class people, and Those People — the mooching, shiftless, no-good parasitic Poors. Calling someone “lower income” is almost as insulting as calling them “trailer trash” or “ghetto” — the implication is that you think they’ve just given up on their aspirations (however unlikely) to the Great American Middle. So I can’t blame Pelosi for using the framework; this isn’t about granting a bounty to the undeserving, it’s about establishing that the bottom Middle Class is rewarded for its efforts just as the upper Middle Class (Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Rand Paul) already is.

  26. 26
    sparky says:

    @Anne Laurie: Exactly what I meant but said coherently!

    Wah! Can’t I be the new me? Why must I be moderated?

  27. 27
    piratedan says:

    @sparky (formerly Dead Existentialist): people who have middle class jobs usually work for businesses that actually depend on customers. More people with more money means more goods and services are purchased thereby lifting many boats. The the problem with the Rich, they already have anything so why do they have to go out and buy stuff? They’re like dragons, sitting on their hoards… sorry, not all rich folks are like that, many are philanthropists and do good deeds and then you gave the Koch Brothers and their ilk.

  28. 28
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    You mean to tell me that billionaires don’t go down to the Ford dealer and buy 10,000 new Mustangs every now and then?

    In truth, I’d bet that paying people enough to enable them to buy decent used cars would do far more for the economy than shoveling more money into the gaping maws of the 1%.

  29. 29
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    Oh, please, not the facile eye of the beholder ploy of elasticizing economic/sociological terminology so as to make it essentially meaningless. Lower class is not second-class, it delineates a section of the spectrum opposite upper class.

  30. 30
    Anne Laurie says:


    Lower class is not second-class, it delineates a section of the spectrum opposite upper class.

    Of course — in an academic setting. (And I for one would be happy to reclaim ‘working class’, as opposed to the non-working rentier class.) BUT many lower-income voters are opposed to being identified that way, so I think it’s polite to use the term they prefer. I mean, “homosexual” is also sound scientific terminology, but if my sexually-interested-in-members-of-the-same-gender friend prefers to be called “gay”, I don’t argue… and I’m not even asking for his vote!

  31. 31
    Yutsano says:

    @Anne Laurie: “Homosexual” was used back when homosexuality was a psychiatric diagnosis as a clinical adjective. It just sounds cold and dissecting. The funny thing is “gay” meaning happy was a really nifty word before it was adopted by the LBGT community in the 1950s. It ain’t going back though.

  32. 32
    Ruckus says:

    I just started a job today that pays a little more than that indexed wage.
    I have about 40 yrs experience and can still just about outwork everyone there except for the boss. So after all that time, experience and skills I’m just barely staying ahead of what should be minimum wage. And in 1968 I was making about 3 times the minimum wage, doing the same basic job but without the experience and certainly not the full skill set.
    Checked the google
    The minimum wage had its highest purchasing value ever in 1968, when it was $1.60 per hour ($10.64 in 2012 dollars[61]). So that $19 seems to be a tad high but the concept is valid, the minimum wage(and wages in general) has not kept up at all with inflation.

  33. 33
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    PC claptrap. Inference is not implication. “Middle class” carries a meaning and a context, both inside and outside of the “academic world.” Applying it liberally (in the universalist sense of the term) cheapens its value and rewards nescience.

  34. 34
    NotMax says:


    Should add that your generalizations about those toward the bottom of the economic scale are demeaning and also insulting.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, am contentedly in the lower class, economically (acquisition of money has never held much allure nor interest for me) and I do not interpret the terminology as carrying negative implications, assumed or intended.

  35. 35
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @trollhattan: People are watching this minimum wage fight. Pelosi, love ya babe.

  36. 36
    Mino says:

    Since conservadems are scared to appear pro-union, this is probably the best we can get.

    And BTW, after scuttling filibuster reform, Levin is retiring. Thank you for your service, buddy.

  37. 37
    kay says:


    That’s not Ezra Klein but I agree with your larger point.

    They are clueless on this. Completely and utterly clueless.

    I love how they seperate out low wage workers from “families” as if people really live like that, in discrete, isolated units.

    “Poorly-targeted policy”. Jesus Christ.

    If we want to stop devaluing the work that people do, we could start by convincing “liberals” to stop devaluing the work that people do.

  38. 38
    'Niques says:

    So when does Scalia decide there’s no longer a need for a minimum wage?

  39. 39
    jefft452 says:

    In every State that allows referenda, if there is not a petition drive to put raising the minimum wage on the ballot at the same time as the general election – Then the Democratic Party dosent know what its doing

  40. 40
    kay says:

    I’d like to see a state to state comparison. Some states have higher minimum wages than others. What happened when they raised the bottom? Did the tier directly above the bottom have to go up? In states with the higher rate, are wages across the board higher?

    I’m suspicious about why commentary on this always puts the single wage group in an isolated silo, and tgen dismisses the whole idea of raising wages.

  41. 41
    Fred says:

    As a retired small buisiness owner I can attest that if an employee isn’t worth $10 an hour they are not worth the trouble to manage them. And further if a manager can’t make profit over said $10 per hour said manager needs to find a new calling.

  42. 42
    aimai says:


    She’s not arguing that middle class income will increase with the minimum wage–she’s implicitly arguing that there’s no real middle class anymore an dthat people who think they are middle class are actually minimum wage serfs without knowing/accepting this fact. Washington speak doesn’t allow you to talk about the “working class” at all. As far as I can see we have the “poor” and then we have the “middle class” and occasionally we have “job creators” or “people baring scraping by on 250,000 dollars a year.

  43. 43

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