Republicans in the Senate are under fire following their suggested counter-proposal for a raise to the federal minimum wage.
In their plan, Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton suggested an increase to $10 per hour from its current rate of $7.25 per hour over the course of five years. Democrats have proposed a raise to $15 per hour
The plan, which the Senators billed as a compromise with Democrats, drew outrage for its paltry sum.
New: Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton roll out a plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour, incrementally ov… https://t.co/TcKSzfMlUE— Sahil Kapur (@Sahil Kapur)1614093365.0
A raise to the minimum wage is being considered as part of a forthcoming pandemic-relief bill.
The minimum wage has not been raised in nearly 12 years, since the $7.25 figure was set in 2009. Even if the wage had kept pace with inflation over that time it would still only be a bit upwards of $9 per hour.
Meanwhile, the median rent of a one-bedroom apartment in the United States is about $1100, and to comfortably afford that you'd need to be making about $21 per hour. In most American metropolitan areas, where the majority of the population lives, both are non-existent pipe dreams.
Even worse is the timing of Romney's and Cotton's plan. Like the Democrats' plan, it would raise the minimum wage not immediately, but over the course of the next five years, with small businesses with 20 or fewer employees on a slightly slower schedule. With so many American workers living in desperate poverty, it simply isn't sufficient right now, let alone in 2025.
What's more, many states' minimum wage rates are already well above the $10 mark. Senator Cotton's home state of Arkansas is a perfect example: The state, which is among those with the lowest cost of living in the nation, has a minimum wage of $11 per hour.
Worse still, Romney's and Cotton's proposal also cracks down on immigration by requiring the use of the federal government's notoriously ineffective E-Verify system to weed out undocumented workers and impose strict penalties on employers who hire them.
Unsurprisingly, these realities had many people on Twitter outraged by the Senators' plan.
This is unacceptable even as a suggestion. This is insulting and will result in more living in poverty. https://t.co/0T3YqQURbX— MG 🍞🌹🖤 (@MG 🍞🌹🖤)1614094429.0
so @TomCottonAR and @MittRomney think $10 per hour is an acceptable wage in 2025?!? its not an acceptable wage in 2… https://t.co/19ARbi8q8O— Deja M. Burt (@Deja M. Burt)1614094323.0
Mitt Romney, who is worth $250,000,000, thinks your labor is only worth ten dollars an hour. Disgusting. https://t.co/th5cV3nJ9T— Tyler O’Day (@Tyler O’Day)1614094360.0
“$10 an hour in 2026, but also we get to make ICE into Judge Dredd” https://t.co/CVya2WcuBY— Jordan - BYM (@Jordan - BYM)1614094332.0
One of America's most longstanding political traditions is "okay we'll do something for the working class but only… https://t.co/EEWPpyW3bi— Hamilton Nolan (@Hamilton Nolan)1614094236.0
While the Democrats' proposal for a $15 minimum wage comes closer to the needs of many workers, it does not have the support of the entire Democratic voting bloc in the Senate and its viability is as yet uncertain.