How could Barack Obama say, in his State of the Union speech, “let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour”?
Back in 2008, Obama campaigned to have a $9.50 per hour minimum wage by 2011. Now he’s settling for $9.00 by 2015! Going backward into the future is the price that poverty groups and labor unions are paying by giving Mr. Obama a free ride last year on this moral imperative.
~ from When It Comes to the Minimum Wage, Obama’s No Teddy Roosevelt by Ralph Nader ~
To put Obama's declaration in perspective, the current minimum wage in the State of Washington is $9.19/hr. Our minimum wage rises as the cost of living goes up and so, by 2015, the minimum wage here will be in the neighborhood of what Obama campaigned on in 2008!
The current federal minimum wage remains at a paltry $7.25/hr. The difference between these two minimum wages is significant. A full-time worker in Washington will earn around $18,968/yr., while a full-time worker at the federal minimum wage only will bring in $14,964 or $4000 LESS. As a couple who typically exists on no more than $20K per year and struggles mightily to make ends meet, Della and I can't begin to imagine the struggles of a single mom with two kids who brings in less than $15K per year.
While this $4,000 difference is significant in one way, it's not THAT significant in another. Neither annual amount is sufficient to lead a sustainable life in this country without one or more forms of government assistance (e.g., Food Stamps, WIC, Medicaid, etc.). Consequently, while a depressed minimum wage helps businesses by keeping their labor costs lower, it costs taxpayers -- including those of us who are poor -- a wad of money.