July 14, 2006

Commentary:

Republicans Fail Latino Families Each Day They Fail to Raise the Minimum Wage

By: Congressman John B. Larson (CT)
Vice Chairman,
House Democratic Caucus

The current minimum wage fails to provide enough income to enable minimum wage workers to a fair quality of life and Republicans fail Latino families each day they fail to raise the minimum wage. Working Latino families are especially affected by changes in the minimum wage because they are more likely than other working families to live below the poverty line. Minimum wage workers working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, earn only $10,700 a year, a stark $5,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. While the number of Latinos living in poverty has grown to 9.1 million, Latino families have not seen a raise in the minimum wage in almost a decade.

Raising the minimum wage is a moral issue. With the costs of everyday items like gasoline at record highs, Latino families are forced into having to do more with less. This Republican Congress’ backwards priorities and failed leadership has let down hard working Americans. It is wrong to give billions and billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthy and pay raises to Congress, but turn our backs on the hard-working Latino families who live in poverty each day.

The current minimum wage is grossly inadequate in today’s economy, especially for the 2.8 million Latinos that would likely benefit from a raise in the minimum wage. Democrats believe that hard-working Americans deserve fair pay. Real policies, like raising the minimum wage, are needed to eliminate poverty in this country and ensure that men and women who work hard and play by the rules have the capacity to achieve the American dream.

Democrats believe that Congress has a moral obligation to ensure all working Americans earn a fair wage and have been trying for several years to increase the minimum wage. No American who works full-time, all year, should have to live in poverty. However, the Republican-led Congress has prevented several Democratic efforts to increase in the minimum wage, including one most recently in June.

Democrats will continue to fight for policies that create fair and just wages for hardworking Latino families in America so no one is ever faced to choose between a bag of groceries and a gallon of gas. By failing to raise the minimum wage, Republicans have failed Latino families, especially those who are struggling to make ends meet. Hardworking Americans deserve a raise, and its past time that Congress gave it to them.

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