John Edwards:Raise the Minimum Wage to Eliminate Poverty

This shouldn’t be too hard to figure out: if you have more money, you spend more money. If you have more money to buy food, then you won’t have to rely on food stamps. If you have more money to purchase a car, maybe you can seek a better job.

If this sounds pretty practical to you, then why hasn’t Congress raised the minimum wage above $5.15 an hour for nine years? If the minimum wage had increased at the same rate as a CEO, the minimum wage today would be $23.03/hour.On Colorado’s November ballot, Amendment 42 will give voters a say to raise the minimum wage to $6.85 an hour. Less than 48 hours after the signatures on the minimum wage petitions were ratified by the Secretary of State, Senator John Edwards was on a conference call to over 200 supporters across the state through the efforts of ProgressNow Action. As a supporter and a reporter, I got to participate.

One thing about John Edwards, he is totally passionate about overcoming poverty by raising the minimum wage. One of his campaign promises during the 2004 presidential election, was to raise the minimum wage to $7.00 an hour by 2007. Losing the election did not falter him from his goal.

The Senator jumped right into the conversation: “To have a $5.15 minimum wage in the richest country of the world is unacceptable,” he said. “This is a huge moral issue that we expect to win everywhere it is on the ballot,” referring to nearly a dozen states that will give voters the opportunity to raise the minimum wage.

Then he pulled on our heartstrings. “It’s not about the process, it’s about helping people feed their children,” Edwards stressed. “Going against raising the minimum wage is attacking the poor.” Then, he let loose on the Republican controlled Congress. “Adding draconian tax cuts for the rich to the minimum wage bill recently was insane.”

Edwards was on a roll when he responded to the question about the effect on Colorado’s economy with detractors saying the raise will cut jobs. “Pure false rhetoric,” Edwards exclaimed. “Those states that have increased their minimum wage saw an improvement in their economy.” He added, “Purchasing power goes up; there is less need for government support and the workers pay more taxes.”

I even got to ask a direct question to him. “While raising the minimum wage to $6.85 is the first step, here on the Western Slope the cost of living is extremely high. Why stop at $6.85 when to have a “living wage,” we really need at least $9.00 or more?”

Simply, he noted, you have to start somewhere.

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Leslie Robinson

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