Skip to main content

(Reposted from Working America's Main Street Blog)

There seems to be a new rule for candidates vying for the Republican Presidential nomination: you must advocate for lower wages.

There’s Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose so-called “Texas Miracle” was built on low-wage jobs. Then there’s former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who is now strongly pushing right-to-work laws, which have led to lower wages in 26 states.

Most recently, at a campaign stop in Florida, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said she would consider a reduction in the minimum wage. This is the first time she’s expressed this as a Presidential candidate. She has previously said that abolishing the minimum wage would “wipe out unemployment completely, because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.”

Since Bachmann could very well be the Republican nominee for President, it’s important to consider the implications of this statement.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which accounting for inflation is lower than it was 30 years ago. A worker who gets paid the minimum wage for 40 hours a week would make $15,080 – before taxes. For an individual, that’s barely above the poverty line, and if you have a child to care for, that amount becomes even more stringent.

If President Michele Bachmann were to fulfill this promise and abolish the minimum wage, what would happen to the 4.4 million Americans currently making the bare legal minimum - or less?

For one thing, unemployment would absolutely not disappear, as Bachmann claims. Lowering or eliminating the minimum wage would act as the opposite of a stimulus; the low-wage workers who spend income the fastest would have even less than the small amount they have to provide for themselves and their families. That would hurt overall demand, which would hurt the businesses that rely on that fast cash, which in turn would make it harder for them to hire. And that hurts the whole economy.

In a broader sense, abolishing the minimum wage would make it practically impossible for millions of Americans to survive. In 2011, $15,000 a year is barely enough for an individual, and if a worker has a child to care for, those costs create an untenable, unstable situation for millions of American families. As one editorial stated: “the United States is too rich to tolerate such an underclass.”

It’s heartbreaking to think that anyone would advocate paying third-world wages to American workers, let alone someone who wants to be our President.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site