Last month, House Democrats proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour, a move they said would catch the minimum wage up to the buying power it had in 1968 and aid the more than 30 million Americans who work full time but barely earn a livable wage.
Republicans have voiced their opposition to any legislative options that would raise the minimum wage -- currently $7.25 an hour -- making it unlikely that the Democratic-backed proposal will make it through the House.
Just why they oppose a minimum wage increase is unclear. But on Wednesday, Rep. Bill Young, Republican of Florida, had some choice words for a constituent who asked him if he supported wage hike. Young, who apparently did not have a coherent reason to support his opposition, repeatedly told the constituent to get a job, ignoring the man as he explained that he already does have a job -- one that happens to pay $8.50 an hour.
The interaction was captured on video via FLDemocracy.com
Young, who is seeking is 22nd term to Congress in Florida's newly-drawn 13th congressional district, then walked away as his constituent explained that $8.50 an hour is not a livable wage.
Some opponents claim that raising the minimum wage would harm the working poor because they would have to pay more taxes - meaning that earning an extra $2.75 an hour would actually hurt them, financially. The Fiscal Policy Institute's National Employment Law Project has debunked that assertion, reporting that most workers would ultimately take home more money than they previously had, even when accounting for higher payroll and income taxes.
Congress has not passed a bill to increase the minimum wage since 2006, when it put in place a series of increases that ended in 2009. The move raised the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour.
Full-time workers who bring in $7.25 per hour earn approximately $16,240 per year, before taxes. In 2010, about 1.8 million American workers received the federal minimum wage, while another 2.5 million had wage below the minimum, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Together, those 4.4 million workers made up about 6 percent of all hourly paid workers in the nation.
Ashley covers U.S. politics for the International Business Times, with a focus on civil liberties, women's issues and campaign finance. Her work has also appeared in The...