By Gabriella Landeros and Luke Vargas
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-III) made the case for an immediate increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.00 an hour during a press conference on the Hill Wednesday.
If passed, the “Catching Up To 1968 Act of 2012″ would be the first law focused on increasing the minimum wage since the Fair Minimum Wage Act was enacted in 2007, raising the wage to $7.25. The thrust of Jackson’s bill – and the origin of its name – is to return to a time when inflation and purchasing power were adequately accounted for in minimum wage calculations, and Americans were making enough to make ends meet and support family households. Although the federal minimum wage hovered at $1.60 in 1968, that year’s rate remains the highest on record in inflation-adjusted terms, and would be the equivalent of $10.04 in 2010 dollars.
According to Jackson, “The bill will affect more than 30 million workers and give the economy an immediate boost by significantly increasing the economy’s number one problem…aggregate demand.”
Joining Rep. Jackson were Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Robert Wiseman of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, and activist Ralph Nader. Nader noted that at a time when there are few unifying political issues, raising the minimum wage is something that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on.
“I don’t think a conservative Republican worker at Walmart making $7.75 an hour will say that their ideology prevents them from supporting a $10.00 minimum wage,” said Nader.
The most recent attempt to introduce minimum wage legislation was included in the “Rebuild America Act” sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Bruce Braley (D-IA) in March. The bill was referred to committee on May 10, 2012, but due to provisions for infrastructural investment and the implementation of the “Buffet Rule” on high-income taxpayers the bill is likely to face stiff Republican opposition in Congress.