By Alex Lloyd Gross
This holiday, house republicans will have a bountiful year. Democrats too. They will be able to feast on carved turkey, all the trimmings and pay for it with cash. They will be also be able to afford nice holiday gifts for family and friends and have the bill paid off quickly, that’s if they did not pay cash. They happily skipped town with a pay raise of about $3000.00 which in reality does not change their lives. They don’t need it nor do they deserve it, say the majority of the working poor. The house took the senate bill which would raise the minimum wage and ignored it.
It’s not tossed into the trash, it’s stuck in the Labor and Industry Committee. “Stuck in committee” is a euphemism for going nowhere. Republican Chairman Jim Cox has stated he wants to “see where the membership stands” with regarding to passing it. So far, nothing has been done and they have had about a month since the senate sent it over. “It could have been done in days”, said Representative Chris Rabb. 20 states will raise their minimum wage this coming year. Republicans who are among the highest paid lawmakers in the country are playing around with the language of the bill. To put this another way, The bill would raise the state minimum wage to $9.50 over two years. Cox is concerned that a house member making $90,000 might think going for $7.25/hr to $9.50 by 2022 is being raised too quickly.
People working for $9/hr and under will not be able to eat carved turkey unless it is at a friend or relatives house. They will be in debt for months to come as they give presents bought at second hand stores. They will not be paying in cash for these gifts. They cannot afford to. As PA House Republicans count their money in a pay raise , they can also count money donated to their reelection campaign by special interests. These include lobby groups and chambers of commerce who want to keep any increase off the table. “It’s like legalized bribery” said Darryl Johnson, who was at a recent rally to raise the minimum wage.
The argument of “It will cost jobs, raise prices and kill business” has been proven to be hogwash. A recent fact finding trip to Washington DC where the wage is $14.00/hr saw food prices at fast food establishments at the same menu prices as where workers are being paid $8.50/hr in Phila. The same amount of people working there does not change. The only difference is people working in Philly starve more. Plenty of “Help Wanted” signs dot the landscape in DC.
Rep. Cox did not put this out for a vote because he wanted to see where people stood on this issue. If he does nothing and this bill does not pass, he may very well find himself and other members standing in the unemployment line, firmly put there by voters that do not care about the interests of chambers of commerce or other groups. They want more money and they need it now. If Cox and the house republicans will not give them a raise, according to John Meyerson, a proponent of a wage increase, “We will remember in November.”