One of the centerpieces of President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address was his executive order that will raise the minimum wage for employees working with federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. The President is taking action on his own because Republicans are deeply set against Democrats' efforts to raise the federal minimum wage.
In short, many in the GOP are playing politics with the income of millions of Americans.
Although Republicans are more ideologically conservative than Democrats, their lack of support for minimum wage increases can't be attributed solely to their economic philosophy. Back when George W. Bush was president, 82 of the 202 GOP House members voted for the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. Many in the Senate did as well (although it was part of a larger package). The Act increased the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour.
While many of the 2007 Congressional Republicans have since been replaced, most of them are still in office today. Of the current members of Congress, 39 House Republicans and 19 Senate Republicans supported the 2007 wage increase under Bush. All are expected to vote against Obama's minimum wage increase.
The advantages of raising the minimum wage above $10 are myriad. It would inject at least $60 billion into our economy, providing a necessary stimulus for accelerating our sluggish recovery. Because these workers wouldn't be as dependent on social services like welfare, rent assistance, and food stamps, federal and local taxes would both be lowered. At a time of rising concern over income inequality, a minimum wage increase would demonstrate to ordinary Americans that the government is as concerned about their financial well-being as they are about the interests of the 1%. Finally, and most importantly, a minimum wage increase would provide necessary support for working class individuals and families.
For those whose dogmatic adherence to laissez-faire economic gospels, irrational fear of covert socialist plots, and/or contempt for anything having to do with Obama is rendering them unwilling to aid Americans ... they should be called out.
When Obama proposed to raise the minimum wage Tuesday night, he effectively asked Republicans to continue the policies that dozens of them were willing to support when the president was one of their own. If we want an end to the mindless partisanship that has paralyzed our body politic for years, we should encourage Congress to start here.
These are the 39 House Republicans who are flip-flopping on the minimum wage:
These are the 19 Senate Republicans: