The Fox debate featuring Republican presidential candidates involved a significant number of softball questions that were guaranteed to satisfy right wingers and disgust the rest of America. One of these was not the question of the minimum wage. The reason this topic did not meet the criteria was even most Republicans favor raising the wage. As it turns out, every single candidate was busy satidfying thier corporate backers, ignoring the facts, and talking down to working folks that they may be the one’s paying the price in the general election.
- Ben Carson JUST SAID, “I would not raise it. Period.”
- Donald Trump said, “I think having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country.”
- Marco Rubio called the push to raise the minimum wage “a waste of time.”
Jeb Bush on raising the minimum wage: “We need to leave it to the private sector. … The federal government shouldn’t be doing this. This is one of those poll-driven deals.”
The Nation takes a look at the facts in Ben Carson Is As Wrong About Wage Hikes As He Was About the Pyramids.
President Harry Truman ran for a full term in 1948 on an economic-populist program that called for increasing what was then a 40-cents-an-hour minimum wage. He made it part of an appeal not merely for his own election but for the election of a Democratic Congress—reminding the electorate that the Republican-controlled House and Senate had thwarted his efforts to improve circumstances for working Americans. “I recommended an increase in the minimum wage,” the president told the Democratic National Convention. “What did I get? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
Truman recognized a mandate when he saw one. And he moved quickly to implement a “Fair Deal” program that sought to extend on the progress made by FDR’s “New Deal.” One of the 33rd president’s boldest proposals was a major minimum-wage increase; he sought to raise the base wage from 40 cents an hour to 75 cents an hour.
Corporate interests howled, as did Republicans in Congress—and even some conservative Democrats.
But Truman pressed forward, declaring, “It is a measure dictated by social justice. It adds to our economic strength. It is founded on the belief that full human dignity requires at least a minimum level of economic sufficiency and security.”
Congress approved the increase. Truman signed the legislation and on January 24, 1950, he announced: “At midnight tonight the lot of a great many American workers will be substantially improved. Today the minimum wage is 40 cents an hour. Tomorrow the new 75-cent minimum rate goes into effect for the 22 million workers who are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act, our Federal wage-hour law. Another amendment to that law will provide greatly increased protection for our young boys and girls against dangerous industrial work.”
The president framed the decision to almost double wages in moral and historic terms, explaining, “For many generations we have recognized that there are legitimate roles for the Government to play in protecting our people from economic injustice and hardship. Our Founding Fathers explicitly stated this. In the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, it is declared that this Government was established, among other reasons, to ‘promote the general welfare.’”
But Truman had economics on his side as well.
When the wage hike was implemented, in January 1950, the unemployment rate was 6.5 percent.
One year later, in January 1951, the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.