Politics Lindsey Graham Offers 'Waffle House' Plan to Dems Worried About $15 Minimum Wage
Labor Rights Activists Say Minimum Wage Proposals From Manchin, Romney Aren't Living Wages
"The $15 minimum wage itself is a compromise," said Adam Shah, policy director at Jobs With Justice."What we're telling people, if we settle for less, is that rather than having a week in the month where you can't find food, we're saying you'll have three or four days in the month where you can't find food," Adam Shah, policy director at Jobs With Justice, told Newsweek.
Republican South Carolina Senatorhas said he will talk to Democratic West Virginia Senator about an alternate plan for raising the national minimum wage.
Graham's plan, suggested to him by representatives from the national restaurant chain Waffle House, would index minimum wage increases to inflation. His plan could also soothe Machin's worries that the' proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would endanger small businesses already harmed by the pandemic's economic downturn.
Everything you need to know about the minimum wage debate
The last time the federal minimum wage increased was back in 2009, when it rose to $7.25 per hour. Activists have waged a nearly decade-long campaign for an increase to $15 per hour, and President Biden has said he wants to enact that raise into law. “There should be a national minimum wage of $15 an hour,” he said last month. Raising the minimum wage is supported by a majority of Americans, with a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll finding 52 percent in favor of raising it to $15 per hour, versus 37 percent in opposition.
While Graham didn't offer specifics when mentioning his plan to reporters last week, similar proposals have tied annual minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI measures changes in the costs of goods and services commonly purchased by households.
For example, the current national minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. However, in Ohio, where the minimum wage is indexed to inflation, the wage is $8.80 an hour.
"I don't mind looking at increasing the minimum wage in a responsible way," Graham said. "That will be easier for business and get us to where we want to go," he added. He called the Democrat's plan of more than doubling the minimum wage "a one-two punch for small business."
Prospects for a $15 federal minimum wage look bleak
But some US senators, including Bernie Sanders and Josh Hawley, are proposing alternatives to raising the wage.Democrats were pushing to include an increase in the federal minimum wage as part of a proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package, but its fate has likely been determined: On Feb. 25, the US Senate’s parliamentarian said that hiking the minimum wage to $15, as the Democrats sought to do, could not be included in the bill, arguing it falls outside the scope of what the Democrats can do in the budget reconciliation process.
Critics say that indexing the minimum wage to inflation keeps wages lower than the actual cost of living. For instance, the MIT Living Wage Calculator estimates that a single adult living in Ohio with no children would need $13.16 an hour to afford typical cost-of-living expenses like food, housing, transportation and taxes.
Indexing can also be imperfect because most retail and restaurant businesses that pay minimum wage don't offer employees 40 hours a week, Richard Stock, director of the Business Research Group, told The Journal-News.
Graham's plan also differs from. The Republican proposal was introduced by Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and of Utah on February 22.
Their plan, entitled the Higher Wages for American Workers Act, would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2025. However, it wasfor being lower than the minimum wage in Cotton's home state, which is $11 an hour.
Democrats’ remaining options for raising the minimum wage, explained
Democrats haven’t given up on increasing the minimum wage just yet.That decision likely means that the $15 minimum wage is effectively dead — for now. As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has said repeatedly, 10 Republican senators are not going to sign on to this type of increase, meaning lawmakers won’t be able to get the 60 votes it needs to pass through regular order.
Romney and Cotton's plan would only raise wages for around 3 percent of American workers, compared to 21.2 percent of workers under the Democratic proposal, according toby the Economic Policy Institute.
Democrats had originally planned on passing their minimum wage hike without Republicansupport through a maneuver called budget reconciliation. However, the congressional Senate's non-partisan parliamentarian said .
In response, Independent Vermont Senatorfor raising the minimum wage. Manchin himself has .
Despite' general opposition to raising the wage, Republican Senate Minority Leader has said that because "it hasn't been raised in quite a while." His comment could signal Republicans' openness to raise the wage, even if not to $15 an hour.
Newsweek contacted Graham's office for comment.
Progressives grapple with path forward as hopes of passing minimum wage fade .
The Senate dealt progressives a blow they have been trying to prevent but knew was coming by voting down an amendment to include a $15 minimum wage in President Joe Biden's Covid relief package.The Senate dealt progressives a blow they have been trying to prevent but knew was coming by voting down an amendment to include a $15 minimum wage in President Joe Biden's Covid relief package.