Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Answer Is Simple

There's a reason why constituents asked Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) about it this past February. There's a reason why many constituents railed against Senator Dean Heller's (R) vote against it in April. And there's a reason why a number of Southern Nevada's fast food workers took part in #FastFoodGlobal last month.

Hint: The minimum wage is too damned low. It's not enough for most workers to survive. And the longer we wait to #RaiseTheWage, the more unnecessary pain we're causing ourselves.

Don't believe us? Believe the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Addressing the U.S.’s persistently high poverty rates, the report lauds the U.S.’s expansion of health care coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act, then argues for two separate policy fixes to further aid in the reduction of poverty: expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to cover more low-income people and raising the minimum wage.

“An expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit—to apply to households without children, to older workers, and to low income youth—would be [an] effective tool to raise living standards for the very poor,” the report states. “Similarly, the government should make permanent the various extensions of the EITC and the improvements in the Child Tax Credit that are due to expire in 2017.

“[G]iven its current low level (compared both to U.S. history and international standards), the minimum wage should be increased,” it goes on. “This would help raise incomes for millions of working poor and would have strong complementarities with the suggested improvements in the EITC, working in tandem to ensure a meaningful increase in after-tax earnings for the nation’s poorest households.”

Back in February, Rep. Heck suggested expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as an alternative to raising the minimum wage. However, many of his G-O-TEA colleagues don't even want to do that (cough- Mitt Romney- cough). And now, the IMF is urging us to do both to address our inequality crisis.

Wage growth has been minimal since the onset of The Great Recession, even as overall economic growth has resumed. The working poor are indeed working, and many of them happen to have families to support. Yet even as they're working, their wages haven't kept up with the cost of living. And even some Wall Street titans are starting to admit there are negative consequences to rising income inequality.

So what can we do to start filling the inequality gap? How can we ensure that hard work actually pays? And how can we stimulate more economic growth while also pulling Americans out of poverty? The answer is simple: #RaiseTheWage.

Perhaps when Congress comes back from another recess, it can actually try passing something #4jobs? That answer should be simple...

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