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Rubio and Johnson singled out for opposition to raising minimum wage; Donnelly, Nelson, Coons, and Carper urged to co-sponsor Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013

Washington, DC – With a vote to raise the federal minimum wage expected in the U.S. Senate soon after Thanksgiving recess, voters on Wednesday urged Senators of both parties to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013.

Constituents, including low-wage workers, gathered at the state offices of Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Tom Carper (D-DE), urging them to co-sponsor the Fair Minimum Wage Act. Delegations to each office emphasized the importance of each senator’s support and co-sponsorship of the bill ahead of the vote.

Meanwhile, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) drew fire from voters outside their state offices, calling attention to their record of opposition to raising the minimum wage.

“Millionaires like Sen. Johnson don’t understand reality,” said Devonte Yates, who works for minimum wage at a McDonalds in Milwaukee. “People like me work hard but we can’t survive without public assistance.  I make burgers at work but can’t afford to make my own burger at home.”

Small business owners and low-wage workers also held a press conference at the Cedar Rapids office of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the lead sponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, emphasizing the economic benefits of raising the minimum wage. An April 2013 poll found that 67 percent of small business owners support raising and indexing the minimum wage and indicated that the majority believe it will help the economy.

“If a small company, like ours, pays all of our employees at least $10 per hour to start, large companies like Starbucks, Macy’s, McDonald’s or Walmart, who all have annual profits in excess of $1 billion, can certainly afford to increase their workers’ wages to $10 or $15 per hour, and still have plenty leftover to continue paying their CEOs multi-million dollar salaries,” said Rhonda Walker, Vice President at Alpha Services Inc., a maintenance services business with 50 employees in Waterloo, Iowa.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10, would benefit an estimated 30 million low-paid workers and generate $32 billion in economic growth, according to an analysis of Census data by the Economic Policy Institute. The measure would also index the minimum wage to rise each year with the cost of living, and boost the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the full minimum wage.

The events Wednesday occur just weeks after the Obama Administration announced its support for the Fair Minimum Wage Act following a meeting with Senate Democrats. A national poll conducted in July 2013 by Hart Research Associates found that 80 percent of Americans, including 62 percent of Republican voters, support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The poll also found that 74 percent of Americans consider raising the minimum wage to be an important legislative priority for Congress to address over the next year.

The most rigorous economic research over the past 20 years shows that raising the minimum wage boosts worker pay without causing job losses – even in regions where the economy is weak or unemployment is high. A recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research reviews the past two decades of research on the impact of minimum wage increases on employment and concludes that “the weight of the evidence points to little or no effect of minimum wage increases on job growth.”  In February, leading mainstream economists polled by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business backed raising and indexing the minimum wage by nearly a 4 to 1 margin, saying that the benefits outweigh any costs.

The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers. For more about NELP, visit www.nelp.org or www.raisetheminimumwage.org.  

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National Employment Law Project Action Fund

For Immediate Release: July 24, 2013

Contact: Laura Brandon, Laura.Brandon@berlinrosen.com (202) 641-8477 / Daniel Massey, Daniel@berlinrosen.com, (917) 370-7312

NEW POLL: Overwhelming Majority of Americans View Minimum Wage Increase as Important Priority for Congress Over Next Year

Members of Congress call for passage of Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 after four years without a federal minimum wage increase; rallies planned in over 30 cities across the country to demand higher wages for millions of America’s lowest-paid workers

Washington, DC – As four years pass without an increase in the federal minimum wage, a new poll released Wednesday finds that 80 percent of Americans – including 62 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Independents – support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and indexing it to the cost of living, as proposed in the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) earlier this year. According to the poll, 74 percent of Americans consider raising the minimum wage to be an important legislative priority for Congress to address over the next year.

As members of Congress, business leaders, and workers gather in Washington on Wednesday to call for immediate passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, thousands of low-wage workers and their supporters in over 30 cities throughout the U.S. will hold rallies at major retail and fast food corporations, as part of a National Day of Action to raise wages for millions of America’s lowest-paid workers.

With Democratic leaders signaling plans to make raising the federal minimum wage a high-profile issue ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, the new poll finds that Congressional candidates who support legislation raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour gain a substantial 36 percent net advantage (51% more likely to support, 15% less). More than twice as many voters believe that Republicans will be more to blame than Democrats if Congress fails to raise the federal minimum wage over the next year, according to the poll, which was conducted by Hart Research Associates from July 15-17. [Top-line results of poll available here]

“Four years without a raise is three years too many,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) on Wednesday. “While millions of workers have been without a raise, costs have continued to climb. Between 2009 and 2012, rent has gone up 4 percent, food is 8 percent more expensive, child care costs 9 percent more, and public transportation takes a 13 percent bigger bite out of workers’ wallets.  We have to make sure that working families can keep up with the economy. Also, by increasing the minimum wage, we can give tens of millions of workers more money in their paychecks to spend at local businesses, increasing sales and boosting economic activity.”

“The American people understand that a decent minimum wage is not a handout,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA). “It’s about valuing work. The pressure to act is building.  We now see majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in all corners of the country support this raise. The time has come for American workers to get a raise. It’s time to grow our economy from the bottom up.”

At a noon press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Rep. Miller will join Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) in calling for Congressional action to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 (H.R. 1010 / S. 460). Over 140 members of the House of Representatives have joined as co-sponsors of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, along with 30 members of the Senate.

The Hart Research poll confirms that opposition to the federal minimum wage remains an extreme position that is out of step with the views of the vast majority of voters. Last month, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated in a Senate HELP Committee hearing that he would favor abolishing the federal minimum wage altogether: according to the poll, fully 80 percent of voters, including 72 percent of Republican voters, disagree with abolishing the minimum wage.

“When it comes to the minimum wage, every year without an increase means that millions of America’s lowest-paid workers are forced to take a pay cut as the cost of basic expenses continues to rise,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund. “Stagnant wages are a recipe for disaster for working families and the America economy alike.”

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would raise the federal minimum wage from the current rate of $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2015, and it would provide for annual increases to the rate in future years to keep pace with the rising cost of living, a key reform known as “indexing” that  ten states have already successfully implemented. The bill would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from its current low rate of $2.13 per hour, where it has been frozen since 1991, to 70 percent of the full minimum wage.

Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would boost pay for more than 30 million low-wage workers. According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, 88 percent of these workers are adults over the age of 20; 85 percent work more than 20 hours per week; and 43 percent have at least some college education.  The minimum wage is also a staple of support for many families:  more than 15 million children in the U.S. have a parent who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

With 70 percent of the economy driven by consumer demand, businesses cite lack of demand as a major reason they are not hiring. However, with overall wage growth stagnant and declining in low paid occupations, many consumers just don’t have the money to spend. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would generate more than $32 billion in new economic activity, supporting the creation of 140,000 new full-time jobs as businesses expand to meet increased demand.

The most rigorous economic research over the past 20 years shows that raising the minimum wage boosts worker pay without causing job losses – even in regions where the economy is weak or unemployment is high. A recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research reviews the past two decades of research on the impact of minimum wage increases on employment and concludes that “the weight of the evidence points to little or no effect of minimum wage increases on job growth.”

The National Employment Law Project Action Fund is a project of The Advocacy Fund.

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Rallies to be held in major cities and key districts across U.S.

2,000 expected at New York City march

 

On Tuesday, July 24, thousands of low-wage workers and their supporters will go before large U.S. corporations, members of Congress, and Chambers of Commerce to call for fair wages on the three-year anniversary of the last increase to the federal minimum wage. The Day of Action in over 30 U.S. cities listed below, including New York, where more than 2,000 are expected to rally, will support legislation in Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9.80 by 2014.

The events follow new data from the National Employment Law Project showing that large corporations with more than 100 employees hire the majority of the country’s low-wage workers (66%) – and that their strong recovery after the recession signals it is time to improve wages for the lowest- paid workers. New data from the Economic Policy Institute also shows the wide-ranging impact a minimum wage raise would have on America’s workers and the economy. A national poll of 2012 voters earlier this year found that nearly three in four likely voters (73%) support increasing the minimum wage to $10 and indexing it to inflation.

The coalition supporting the July 24 Day of Action ranges from researchers and policy experts to labor, faith, civil rights and community organizations representing millions of Americans, and includes NELP Action Fund, the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Jobs with Justice, EPI Policy Center, YWCA, USAction, Interfaith Worker Justice, Credo, Campaign for America’s Future, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Demos, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, Leadership Center for the Common Good, Wider Opportunities for Women, the National Women’s Law Center and other labor, faith and community organizations.

Many of Tuesday’s rallies will take place in key districts or in front of prominent low-wage employers, including companies owned by Bain Capital. For a full list of actions, see below:

Monday, July 23

 

Washington, DC

12:00pm – Hundreds of minimum wage earners and supporters will rally in support of an increase to the minimum wage with a drum line and speak out.

 

Tuesday, July 24

New York, NY

3:00pm (Press Conference at 5:00pm in Union Square) – 2,000 will march from Herald Square to Union Square.

Baltimore, MD

2:00pm – Press conference at Baltimore City Hall with Elijah Cummings.

Chicago, IL

4:30pm – Three separate marches will converge on the Chicago Chamber of Commerce.

Detroit, MI

4:00pm – Minimum wage earners from Bain Capital-owned companies to join protests outside of Bain companies at the Eureka Road Center in Southgate.

Houston, TX

4:30pm – Protesters will block Louisiana St., where Houston’s most profitable companies are located.

Los Angeles, CA

10:00am – Protest at Bain-owned Burlington Coat Factory

12:00pm – Protest at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Miami, FL

1:45pm – Bus tour of minimum wage businesses and impacted communities

3:30pm – Rally in Miami’s financial center

Milwaukee, WI

12:00pm – Bus tour of minimum wage businesses and impacted communities

Minneapolis, MN

12:00pm – Rally and delegation outside office of Rep. John Kline

Philadelphia, PA

4:00pm – March from Liberty Bell to the Gallery at Market East (9th and Market St.)

Pittsburgh, PA

9:00am – March from Market Square to City-County Building

10:00am – Press conference following speakout at City Council calling on city to pass resolution on federal minimum wage

Portland, OR

5:30pm – Rally outside of Ross Center featuring flash mob-style actions, speakers who are Bain Capital minimum wage earners

Seattle, WA

11:00am – Rally in front of Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office

St. Louis, MO

5:00pm – Rally in Clayton, MO to call on four Senate candidates to support increasing the minimum wage

Kansas City, MO

5:00pm – Rally at Sen. Roy Blunt’s office to demand he co-sponsor federal minimum wage legislation

Cleveland, OH

5:30pm – Rally in front of Parma Town Mall in front of Bain-owned and other minimum wage employers

Toledo, OH

5:30pm – Rally at Westfield Mall to raise the minimum wage

Cincinnati, OH

5:30pm – Rally to raise the minimum wage

Sacramento, CA

12:00pm – March from Chamber of Commerce to State Capitol

Tampa, FL

1:00pm – Minimum wage earners and supporters to rally, hold delegation to Rep. Bill Young’s office

Springfield, IL

2:00pm – Protest at Chamber of Commerce

Moline, IL

3:30pm – Rally at Rep. Schilling’s Congressional office

Marquette, MI

12:30pm – March from Chamber of Commerce to Rep. Benishek’s office

Duluth, MN

5:30 – March to Rep. Cravaack’s office

Hudson Valley, NY

10:30am – Rally at Newburg city park to call on Rep. Hayworth to support minimum wage increase

Philadelphia, PA

12:00pm – March to Walmart Super-Center to call out low-wage employers

Pittsburgh, PA

11:30am – March to Rep. Murphy’s office to present petition from low-wage workers

Green Bay, WI

4:00pm – Rally at Rep. Ribble’s office

Wausau, WI

4:00pm – Rally at Rep. Sean Duffy’s office.

The National Employment Law Project Action Fund is a project of The Advocacy Fund, a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.

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Dozens of events to take place across U.S. to put pressure on elected officials to choose a side: big businesses or American families

 

Washington, DC – On Wednesday a new coalition of major national organizations announced a campaign to call on elected officials to raise the federal minimum wage, launching with a national day of action on July 24, the third anniversary of the last federal minimum wage increase.

Thousands of people, many of whom earn the minimum wage, are expected to participate in dozens of eventsacross the country on July 24, including in major cities like New York and Washington DC, where participants will rally outside prominent low-wage employers and call for fair wages and legislation to raise the minimum wage.

The new coalition comprises a growing number of organizations – from researchers and policy experts to labor, faith, civil rights and community organizations representing millions of Americans, including low wage workers themselves. Members include the National Employment Law Project, the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Jobs with Justice, EPI Policy Center, YWCA, USAction, Interfaith Worker Justice, Credo, Campaign for America’s Future, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Demos, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, Let Justice Roll, Wider Opportunities for Women and the National Women’s Law Center.

On a conference call Wednesday, Christine Owens, executive director of the NELP ActionFund, and Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union, drew attention to the fact that the minimum wage in 2012 amounts to less purchasing power than the minimum wage in 1968. Meanwhile, corporate profits in 2011 hit an all-time record of $1.97 trillion.

They also previewed forthcoming findings from the National Employment Law Project showing that the majority of America’s lowest-paid workers are employed, not by small businesses, but by large corporations, and that most of the largest low-wage employers have recovered from the recession.  The new report details how the majority of these companies — such as Walmart, McDonald’s and Yum Brands — are in a strong financial position, and can readily afford to pay a higher minimum wage.  The full report will be released Thursday.

“Millions of Americans are struggling to get by on the minimum wage.  They are falling farther and farther behind and their earnings can’t keep up with the rising cost of living.  Their paychecks are effectively shrinking, while profits continue to soar for the big retail corporations and restaurant chains that employ the largest share of low-wage workers in America,” said Owens.  “America’s low-wage workers deserve a raise—a modest increase will make a big difference in their lives while giving our economy a much-neededboost and barely making a dent in corporate profits.”

Polling data discussed by Owens and Henry indicate broad support for raising the minimum wage. A national poll of 2012 voters earlier this year found that nearly three in four likely voters (73%) support increasing the minimum wage to $10 and indexing it to inflation. That support includes 91% of Democrats, 74% of Independents and 50% of Republicans. It spans all demographic and regional divides by wide margins,regardless of gender, age, education level, race, region, and partisanship.

“Tens of millions of hardworking Americans are struggling to make ends meet and support their families. It’s time for Congress to raise the minimum wage, so that we can create an economy that works for all of us,” said Henry. “Rather than focus on tax breaks and perks for the richest one percent, we need to keep middle class and low-wage families from falling even farther down the economic ladder.”

Prince Jackson, a security officer at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, underscored the difficulty of providing for a family while earningonly slightly more than the minimum wage. “As a security officer at JFK, I feel that my job is critical to the safety of passengers and the airport. I earn$8.00 an hour. After my rent, my cell phone, and my laundry bills, all of my money is gone. I rely on my church food pantry to get enough to eat,” said Jackson. “I have a decade of experience in security. Putting another $80 or $100 in my pocket would mean a lot. I could have some money left over and send it to my son.”

Echoing President Obama’s 2008 campaign pledge, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Representative George Miller (D-CA), Senior Democrat of the House Education and Workforce Committee, have proposed to raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $9.80 by 2014, adjust it each year to keep up with the rising cost of living (as tenstates already do), and also raise the $2.13 sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.

The NELP Action Fund is a project of The Advocacy Fund, a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.  

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Mitt Romney is reversing on the minimum wage.

After telling the Associated Press and NELP Action Fund that he supports automatically increasing the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, conservatives from Rush Limbaugh to The Wall Street Journal editorial page grew outraged.

Now Romney is backpedaling, as a new video from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) Action Fund shows:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQAk3Izd80c&feature=youtu.be

Romney yesterday on CNBC: “Well, actually, when I was governor the legislature passed a law raising the minimum wage. I vetoed it…There’s probably not a need to raise the minimum wage.”

Video here. More below.

The National Employment Law Project Action Fund, a project of The Advocacy Fund, is a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue code.  

Now Opposes Automatic Increases in Minimum Wage

Washington, DC – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told CNBC host Larry Kudlow yesterday that he was against increasing the federal minimum wage, after pledging support for automatic increases in the federal minimum wage earlier this year.

When Larry Kudlow confronted Romney with opposition from the Wall Street Journal and other business groups to his support for automatically increasing the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, Romney reversed his previous position, saying, “There’s probably not a need to raise the minimum wage.”

However, when asked his position on the minimum wage on video on January 7th by a NELP Action Fund staffer, Romney responded, “My view has been to allow the minimum wage to rise with the CPI [Consumer Price Index] or with another index so that it adjusts automatically over time.” When asked if he would support that policy as president, he responded, “I already indicated that when I was governor of Massachusetts and that’s my view.”

On February 1st Romney reconfirmed his support for automatic increases to the federal minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, telling reporters on his campaign plane, “I haven’t changed my thoughts on that,” as reported by the Associated Press.

Yesterday Romney also mischaracterized the position he took on the minimum wage as governor, when he supported automatic increases in the minimum wage tied to inflation. In the interview with Kudlow, he said that as Governor  “the proposal I made, every two years, we should look at the minimum wage, we should see what’s happened to inflation, we should also look at the jobs level throughout the country, unemployment rate, competitive rates in other states or, in this case, other nations.” In fact, Romney’s expressed proposal as Governor and when he ran for the Senate in 1994 would have created automatic increases in the minimum wage based solely on inflation.

As reported by the Boston Globe in 2006, “As a candidate for governor in 2002, Romney proposed indexing the minimum wage to inflation and boosting the hourly pay for the state’s lowest-paid workers to $6.96 an hour starting January 2004. In March 2005, he was quoted as saying he supported raising the minimum wage to keep up with inflation.”

Romney’s recent endorsement of automatic annual increases in the federal minimum wage was met with intense criticism from conservatives, prompting attacks from Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Armey, Sen. Jim DeMint, Steve Forbes, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The Club for Growth and more.

“As recently as last month, Governor Romney’s stated position on the minimum wage was quite clear.  But with his latest flip flop, where he actually stands on this critical issue is as clear as mud,” said Chris Owens of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund.  “With this new-found opposition to a minimum wage increase, Gov. Romney has made perfectly clear he is out of touch with the economic reality of low-wage workers and out of step with the large majority of Americans who support a fair increase in the minimum wage.”

Raising the minimum wage draws support from all income groups and political parties, including majorities of independent voters and Republicans. Recent polling found that two-thirds of Americans – a bipartisan majority – support raising the minimum wage to $10 and then indexing it to inflation to keep up with the rising cost of living.  If it had been indexed based on the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be approximately $10.40 today.

Ten states have adopted the practice previously endorsed by Romney of raising the minimum wage each year based on the Consumer Price Index so that it automatically increases to keep pace with the cost of living.  And while Romney indicated that he thinks the current minimum wage of $7.25 – or $15,000 a year – is adequate, eighteen states plus the District of Columbia have raised their minimum wage standards above that level.

Efforts to raise and index the minimum wage in additional states have been gaining momentum.  Minimum wage legislation has moved forward in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware in recent weeks, with similar proposals already pending in Illinois, Massachusetts, Hawaii and California. Community members in Missouri and San Jose, California are gathering signatures to put measures to increase the minimum wage on the ballot in November.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama endorsed first raising the federal minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011 and then indexing it based on the Consumer Price Index so that it automatically rises each year to keep pace with inflation.

More background on the minimum wage can be found at www.raisetheminimumwage.org.

The National Employment Law Project Action Fund, a project of The Advocacy Fund, is a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue code.  

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Statement of Christine L. Owens, Executive Director, NELP Action Fund:

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax proposals are a fairy tale that takes the failed policies of former President George W. Bush and magically turns them into shiny pots of gold. The unaffordable, lopsided tax cuts of the Bush years racked up deficits and fostered weak job growth, and we are worse off today because of them. Preserving these rates through the first three years of the Obama administration has failed to create jobs, failed to build a sustainable recovery, failed to lift wages for most Americans and failed to reduce the deficit or ease the explosive economic inequality that threatens our social fiber.

Nevertheless, Governor Romney proposes to make matters worse. His approach would permanently waive taxes on most profits American corporations earn abroad and provide an even greater incentive to move work offshore and exploit foreign tax havens.

He also wants to shave ten points off corporate tax rates, even though the actual taxes many companies pay are already less than the rate he proposes. Between 2008 and 2010, the effective tax rate for 280 of America’s most profitable companies averaged roughly half the current actual rate.  And 30 major corporations, including household names like General Electric, DuPont, Verizon Communications and Boeing, managed to bring in revenue and still report negative tax liabilities over that period.  Further enriching these companies with even lower rates may boost CEO pay and company profits, but it will not raise wages for workers, create good jobs or contribute to lowering the deficit.

Any modest benefits working and middle class families would see under Mr. Romney’s personal income tax cut proposal would be dwarfed by the benefits showered on the super-rich.  Though Mr. Romney claims the 1% would continue to pay as much or more than they currently do because of unspecified limits he’d impose on deductions, it’s hard to imagine that wealthy taxpayers already able to game the system and shelter much of their income from taxation could not manipulate this “base broadening” to their advantage. Mr. Romney proposes no changes in capital gains tax rates for the wealthiest and says only that his administration would “study” the issue. And eliminating the estate tax only benefits those at the top: the current estate tax exempts individual estates smaller than $5 million and married couple estates less than $10 million.  Even if 2009 estate tax limits were restored, less than one percent of all estates would be subject to taxation.  Claims that small businesses will be forced to shut their doors are spurious; only 1.3 percent of this number of taxable estates are small businesses or farms.

Mr. Romney’s plan would also increase defense spending, make big cuts in other federal spending, and nod to balancing the budget.  The only way to sustain the tax cuts and defense increases he proposes is with budget cuts in non-defense spending of between 20% and 48% in 2016 (depending on whether Social Security and/or Medicare are cut and whether his proposals include a balanced budget requirement—both of which are unclear).  That will mean deep cuts in programs tens of millions of Americans rely on during a period when the nation is still recovering from a brutal recession.

Tax cuts are not magic beans that sprout good jobs and a miraculous economic recovery.  America needs sound economic policies, including reforms that restore fairness to the tax code, investments in workers and in our national infrastructure, and a regulatory environment that encourages growth while respecting workers and strengthening families and communities.  Mr. Romney’s economic policies fail these tests.

The NELP Action Fund is a project of The Advocacy Fund.

Gingrich Makes False Claims in Attacking Romney Proposal to Index the Minimum Wage

February 5, 2011, Washington—Today on Meet the Press, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reiterated his opposition to increasing the minimum wage with inflation — a position supported by former Governor Mitt Romney — and falsely claimed that raising the minimum wage increases teen unemployment. While Gingrich claims he wants to be the “paycheck president,” he opposes increasing the minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour or roughly $15,000 a year for a full-time worker. Roughly half of households with children that currently receive food stamps are working households.

“If Gingrich had his way as speaker in the 1990s, the minimum wage would still be $4.25,” said Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund. “Gingrich says he wants to be the paycheck president, but he doesn’t want that paycheck to be big enough to support working families.”

Referencing Romney’s support for automatic increases in the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, Gingrich said, “He favors indexing the minimum wage when virtually every economist in the country believes that further makes it difficult for young people to get a job.”

However, the contention that increasing the minimum wage leads to job loss was first discredited by current Council of Economic Advisors chairman Alan Krueger in the 1990s when he and economist David Card published a groundbreaking study finding that raising the minimum wage boosts incomes of low-paid workers without reducing employment. Two decades of rigorous academic research have confirmed these findings.

Teens make up less than a quarter of low-wage workers directly affected by the minimum wage.  Nonetheless, the research similarly shows that the minimum wage is not a factor in teen unemployment.  A comprehensive 2011 study “Do Minimum Wages Really Reduce Teen Employment?” published in the Journal Industrial Relations examined every minimum wage increase over the past two decades—including increases that took place during protracted periods of high unemployment, such as the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009—and found that higher minimum wages boost incomes without reducing employment or slowing job creation, even for teen workers. [See NELP summary of the study’s findings--PDF]

This study followed another groundbreaking study published in 2010 in the prestigious Review of Economics and Statistics that examined employment patterns in more than 250 pairs of neighboring counties in the U.S. that had different minimum wage rates between 1990 and 2006.  It found no difference in job rowth rates in the neighboring counties despite the different minimum wages [see NELP summary-- PDF].

These studies – and a related body of research over the past twenty years — have discredited the studies generally relied on by corporate interests.  That erroneous research failed to control for basic differences in population and job growth trends across regions of the country, such as population shifts from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt.  The new research shows that when those trends are controlled for – for example, by focusing on neighboring counties (which by their nature have similar economies) with different minimum wage rates – any correlation between higher minimum wages and slower job growth vanishes.

A 2011 National Employment Law Project Data Brief, “What is Causing Record-High Teen Unemployment?”, details how high teen unemployment has been driven by the aftermath of the Great Recession and macroeconomic trends shaping the labor market, not by the minimum wage, which in fact has declined in value over the last forty years.

Earlier this week, Romney confirmed to the Associated Press his support for raising the federal minimum wage to increase automatically each year to keep up with the rising cost of living, reaffirming a position he told a NELP Action Fund staffer last month. If the federal minimum wage had been indexed to the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be more than $10.30 today. Currently the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, or just $15,000 a year for a full-time worker.

“Romney’s proposal, though a step in the right direction, would keep millions of working families in poverty,” said Owens. “Because the buying power of the minimum wage has plummeted over the past four decades, Romney’s proposal to index the current minimum wage to increase with inflation falls unacceptably short of what our families and the economy need.”

When President Obama campaigned in 2008 he endorsed raising the minimum wage to $9.50 in 2011 and then index it to inflation. On Monday New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced a bill raise the state minimum wage to from $7.25 to $8.50 and then index it to inflation, and Tuesday Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan introduced a bill to raise the Connecticut minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.75 and then index it to inflation.  New Jersey Speaker Sheila Oliver is pushing legislation to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 and index it to inflation. Last week the Delaware Senate passed legislation to raise their state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25.

Similar proposals are already pending in Illinois, Massachusetts, Hawaii and California. Community members in Missouri and San Jose, California are gathering signatures to put measures to increase the minimum wage on the ballot in November. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have raised their minimum wages higher than the federal level of $7.25 per hour.  Ten states have enacted measures to annually adjust their minimum wage to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

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Romney Would Nationally Adopt Florida Law that Raises Minimum Wage Each Year; Gingrich Opposes Raising Wages

January 24, 2012, Washington, DC – As Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich compete to win over Republican voters based on their promises to improve the economic outlook for ordinary Americans, the leading GOP contenders have recently staked out starkly different positions on the minimum wage. As new video reveals, Romney supports raising the minimum wage each year to keep pace with inflation, a policy which Florida adopted in 2004 when an overwhelming 71 percent of voters supported a ballot initiative establishing automatic annual increases in the state’s minimum wage. Gingrich opposes raising wages for the lowest-paid workers.

Breaking from conventional GOP opposition to minimum wage increases, former Governor Mitt Romney said on video at a recent campaign event that he favors raising the minimum wage automatically each year so that it keeps pace with inflation: “My view has been to allow the minimum wage to rise with the CPI [Consumer Price Index] or with another index so that it adjusts automatically over time.”  When asked if he would support that policy as president, he responded, “I already indicated that when I was governor of Massachusetts and that’s my view.”

When asked his position on the federal minimum wage when he last ran for president in 2007, Romney did not take a position.

At a subsequent campaign event, Gingrich clashed with Romney’s position on the issue. When asked if he shared Romney’s support for raising the minimum wage. Gingrich responded, “No, and I’m surprised that’s his position.”

Earlier this month, Florida and seven other states automatically raised their minimum wage rates to keep up with inflation, the policy supported by Romney. The increases that took place on January 1 in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont raised wages for more than 1.4 million workers, including more than 380,000 workers in Florida. The increased consumer spending generated by the raises will lead to an additional $366 million in GDP and create the equivalent of more than 3,000 full-time jobs, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama endorsed raising the federal minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011 and then indexing it based on the Consumer Price Index.  The federal minimum is currently $7.25 per hour, or roughly $15,000 a year for a full-time worker.  If it had been indexed based on the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be approximately $10.40 today.

Recent polling found that two-thirds of Americans – majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans – support raising the minimum wage to $10 and then indexing it to inflation to keep up with the rising cost of living.

“Raising the minimum wage helps working families who are struggling to make ends meet and generates additional consumer spending that our economy desperately needs,” said Christine Owens of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund. “With labor compensation now at a 50-year low and more and more Americans relying on low-wages after losing better jobs, we must raise and index the minimum wage to help Main Street recover.”

Earlier this month, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg also called for a raise in New York state’s minimum wage, backing an effort led by New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver also recently announced that increasing New Jersey’s minimum wage will be a top legislative priority this year.

Romney’s support for indexing sharply contrasts with recent Republican-led efforts to weaken minimum wage laws in the past year in states such as New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Oregon, Missouri and Florida.  In Oregon, Missouri and Florida, legislators have taken direct aim at statutes that provide for annual indexing of the minimum wage.

More background on the minimum wage can be found at http://www.raisetheminimumwage.org

The National Employment Law Project Action Fund is a project of The Advocacy Fund, a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.  

 

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National Employment Law Project Action Fund (NELP Action Fund)

For Immediate Release: January 12, 2012

Contact: Tim Bradley, 314-440-9936

BLOOMBERG CALLS TO RAISE NEW YORK’S MINIMUM WAGE – REAFFIRMING POLITICAL, ECONOMIC POPULARITY OF WAGE INCREASE

Follows Romney Endorsement of Indexing Minimum Wage and NY Assembly Speaker Silver’s Call to Make Minimum Wage Raise a Priority

Announcements Further Underscore Bipartisan Consensus that Strong Minimum Wage is Critical for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Growth

New York – Today Mayor Bloomberg called to raise New York’s minimum wage. The announcement is smart economics and recognizes the overwhelming popularity of raising the minimum wage at a time when the economy desperately needs it, the National Employment Law Project Action Fund (NELP Action Fund) said today.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s statement is a welcome recognition that a strong minimum wage will help boost consumer demand and spur economic recovery – and it is overwhelmingly popular with the American public,” said Christine Owens of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund.  “In the fight to get our economy back on track, workers’ buying power is the secret weapon.”

At just $7.25 per hour, or $15,080 a year for a full-time worker, New York’s minimum wage is outdated.  It is more than $3 less than what it should have been had it kept pace with inflation these last forty years, and it lags behind 18 other states, including neighboring Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, and lower cost of living states like Montana and Arizona, which all have minimum wages higher than New York.

Raising the minimum wage draws support from all income groups and political parties, including majorities of independent voters and Republicans. Recent polling found that two-thirds of Americans – a bipartisan majority – support raising the minimum wage to $10 and then indexing it to inflation to keep up with the rising cost of living.

Mayor Bloomberg’s statement, issued in his State of City address, follows on the heels of Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s announcement last week that raising and indexing New York’s minimum wage will be a priority for New York’s legislative session this year.

Mayor Bloomberg’s call also comes just days after former Governor Mitt Romney stated his support for pegging the minimum wage to inflation so that it automatically adjusts to rise with the cost of living.  While Mr. Romney’s position breaks from conventional GOP opposition to raising the minimum wage, it coincides with Americans’ overwhelming support for the measure.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama endorsed raising the federal minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011 and then indexing it based on the Consumer Price Index.  The federal minimum is currently $7.25 per hour, or roughly $15,000 a year for a full-time worker.  If it had been indexed based on the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be approximately $10.40 today.

Ten states have adopted the practice of adjusting the minimum wage based on the Consumer Price Index.  Under this practice known as “indexing,” the minimum wage is automatically updated each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living. On January 1, 2012, eight of these states increased their minimum wages in light of the increase in the Consumer Price Index during 2010-2011.

“This is a concrete way to improve people’s lives,” said Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the Working Families Party.  “It’s not pie-in-the-sky. It’s common sense, and the Mayor is to be congratulated for his position.”

For more background on New York’s minimum wage, please see “Key Facts on New York’s Minimum Wage.”

Videos and more background on Romney’s support for indexing the minimum wage can be found at http://www.nelpaction.org/.

The National Employment Law Project Action Fund is a project of The Advocacy Fund, a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.  

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