How the 2014 Minimum Wage Debate Will End

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The latest exchange on raising the minimum wage in 2014 is only one chapter in this months-long political brawl – one that will see Republicans mostly on the defensive.

Fresh ammo came Tuesday from a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, which gave both advocates and opponents some statistics to crow about.

Tuesday's CBO report said that raising the minimum wage to $10.10, as U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed, would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty, but at the cost of about 500,000 jobs.

Congressional Republicans immediately seized on the job loss number as proof that raising the minimum wage would be a bad idea. Meanwhile, Democrats focused on the number of people the increase would help.

And this is why Republicans have a tough fight ahead in the 2014 minimum wage battle – even if they succeed in preventing the increase Democrats seek…

A History of the Minimum Wage Battle: How We Got Here

First, here's how we reached this point in the minimum wage fight.

minimum wage historyPresident Obama moved the 2014 minimum wage battle into the spotlight earlier this year when he began to discuss it in his speeches, including his Jan. 28 State of the Union address.

The president took matters a step further just last week. He signed an executive order that will require businesses with new or renewed federal contracts to pay a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour by 2015.

The order will affect only about half a million workers – the constitutional limits to President Obama's executive powers prevented him from doing any more. But the action intended to set an example he wants Congress to follow, and in particular to put pressure on Congressional Republicans.

Senate Democrats have introduced a bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, that would raise the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $8.20 the first year, $9.15 the second year and to $10.10 in the third year. After that, increases would be indexed to inflation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said he plans to bring the bill to the floor for a vote within the next few weeks.

And the Democrats have good reason to think the minimum wage increase is a winning issue for them…

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  1. Dan | May 1, 2014

    An increase in the minimum wage means nothing if they just take it away from you with higher prices. Did you really get it if you can't keep any of it?

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