The Latest on the $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Increase

I’ve been torn between writing about CPAC or the covid relief bill. I decided to let the covid bill win.

It’s a shame about the $15 an hour minimum wage. I’ve read a lot of opinions about whether it would still be possible to get the bill through the Senate with the minimum wage intact using some procedural maneuver or another. There’s a good explanation of these by Li Zhou and Emily Stewart at Vox.

In brief, one option is firing the parliamentarian and keeping the $15 minimum wage in the Senate bill This is probably not going to happen, because it would require 51 votes, and at least two Senate Democrats (Manchin and Sinema) are saying they won’t vote for it.

According to Josh Marshall (article behind subscription firewall), another option is for Vice President Harris to overrule the parliamentarian. The Senate could vote to overrule the veep, but that would require a 60-vote majority, Marshall thinks. So let’s say Harris overrules the parliamentarian. What happens next? Josh Marshall:

Remember, Manchin and Sinema still hold all the cards. They don’t support overruling the parliamentarian and they don’t support hiking the minimum wage to $15. Put it in the relief bill and they can just vote against the whole bill. Then the whole thing goes down.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) says there’s no way Manchin and Sinema are going to vote against the COVID relief bill no matter what they claim now.

Parliamentarians have been overruled many times; it’s not all that controversial, or at least it didn’t use to be. But then the Dems would be playing chicken with Manchin and Sinema, who say they don’t support overruling the parliamentarian, either. There’s a lot at stake.

Bernie Sanders is working on a patch. From Vox:

“In the coming days, I will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to move forward with an amendment to take tax deductions away from large, profitable corporations that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour and to provide small businesses with the incentives they need to raise wages,” he said. “That amendment must be included in this reconciliation bill.”

That would leave a lot of people out, but it’s better than nothing.

And then there’s compromising with Republicans. There are a few Republicans who are proposing a much smaller minimum wage increase, something like $10. It wold be really sad to have to settle for that.

If the big bill has to be passed without the minimum wage increase so be it, but I’d like to see the Dems offer a stand-alone wage increase bill to the Senate and let all the Republicans vote against it. Then make television ads.

On MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell reminds us that the last time the minimum wage was raised, in 2007, the provision was inserted into a defense spending bill that Republicans were determined to pass. Put it in a bill the Republicans want, he says. But I can’t think of what such a bill would be right now. In 2007 George W. Bush kept pushing off-budget “supplement” bills to fund the Iraq War, and there was no way Republicans would have failed to pass one of those. But what do Republicans want now? To outlaw abortions? To make unlicensed open carry the law of the land? To pass a bunch more tax cuts for rich people? To further eviscerate voting rights?

Speaking of voting rights, more than 100 bills that would restrict voting are moving through state legislatures. The future of the nation may depend on passage of H.R. 1, the voting rights act. We can’t risk Republicans taking back the House or Senate in 2022.

But Manchin and Sinema are also opposed to ending the filibuster. I suggest applying extreme pressure to Manchin and Sinema until they change their minds. I mean that literally. Several tons, if need be.

9 thoughts on “The Latest on the $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Increase

  1. Use Bernie's trick to get it into reconciliation.  Put it in at a number that Manchin and Sinema can live with but index it to inflation. I'd like it if it were changed to $15/hr. immediately countrywide but there are practical considerations for small businesses, and it will look better to be sympathetic to that by having it grow over time.

  2. I really agree with Maha. I want the Covid relief. There could be a lot of people who will die without it. Bundling it with the $15 per hour means we could flush both of them. That's really bad strategy. We have a majority in the Senate for Covid. Take it.

    Regarding the $15 minimum wage, we do it as a stand-alone bill, not part of reconciliation.  Moscow Mitch isn't there. So it passes the House and goes to the floor of the Senate. We get everyone on record – no one can say they want $15 per hour but they voted against this bill because… fill in the blank. 

    That means we go for an expanded majority in the Senate in 2022, using this issue and others that we bring to a vote for exactly the same reason McConnell did NOT. To get people on the record voting against popular bills. Preferably uncomplicated bills on a single issue – immigration,  women's rights, etc.

    I don't see a majority in the Senate who will kill the filibuster. I want it – I wish it was there. But we're playing for a bigger majority in 2022. That means a slate of good bills the public wants and the GOP votes down. Then look for the greatest progress in the LAST two years of the Biden administration. 

    We can have it all – we can't have it all at once. Pick your fights carefully. 


      "Pick your fights carefully" but pick them when you know you have a chance to win and the Dems do NOT know they will have senate and house majorities after 2022.

      Right now the Dems have control of the senate (sort of) and control of the house.  Will the Dems have control of the house after 2022?  PayGo Pelosi has never had a term as the Speaker of the House were she did not lose a bunch of seats to the rePukes.  Unless the Qpublicans go full Marjorie Taylor Greeen, I won't be surprised to see the Dems in the House Minority again after 2022.


  3. We're going to have to bend in one form or another for the minimum wage + COVID relief, but Voting Rights is come hell or high water. Manchin and Sinema had better figure out what side they’re on, and get wise to what's at stake.

    It’s naive to think we’ll control the Senate after 2022. We have the thinnest of majorities possible currently, and the party in power usually loses seats in the midterm. What we have today is extremely fragile, and would not have happened were it not for the pandemic.

  4. The issue with Manchin is that he really, really likes being Faux new's favorite Democratic Senator- probably because he knows that's all they watch in W. Virginia.  But he's also been good on a number of important votes for D's.  Unfortunately, at this point it appears he's more than happy to kill the minimum wage increase to keep up his air time on faux. I think the optimal strategy for the Biden administration is to nuke faux news one way or another- but you know that's not going to happen so they need to come up with some plan B and give W. Virginia a new airport, military base or something that Manchin can talk about on faux instead of the minimum wage.

    Sinema is a whole other can of worms.  I have no idea what the best strategy is with her other than constantly reminding her that her state is getting much bluer than it was and she just might lose a primary if she kills the minimum wage and/or the new voting rights act.

  5. So, we can't put raising the minimum wage in an economics bill…?

    Because whaaaaa…?

    Ok, ok, I'll play along…  

    I get it: we can't.

    Now what?

    Nothing.  You give me nothing.

    I guess we have to make raising the minimum wage be its own bill, is that it?

    Put all the RepubliKKKLANs on the record when raising the minimum becomes a stand-alone bill.  

    We'll have to send e-mails, photo's, meme's, etc, about which RepubliKKKLAN Senators think you earn enough money as is.  Maybe too much, even.

    Yeah, that could work…


    • "…since no fiscal year 2021 budget resolution was adopted in calendar year 2020. That would allow Congress to first take up the overdue budget resolution for fiscal year 2021, use that to generate an initial reconciliation bill, and then take up a budget resolution for fiscal year 2022 (which begins on October 1, 2021) to generate a second reconciliation bill…."


      Don't give up yet.

  6. Fifteen dollars an hour is not enough or too much, because apples are not oranges.  I know this is way too complex, which is what happens when your lead sentence is a paradox.  So let's find a starting point all can understand, something as American as baseball.

    Watching baseball is a major American pastime and has been for many generations.  I watch baseball in normal years in  three places.  The cost of watching baseball varies quite a bit among them.  In the place I normally reside I am within bicycle range of the stadium.  I can walk the bicycle in and park it where I can keep an eye on it from my seat.  Admission and parking is free even if you decide to drive.  The only reason to spend money is on concessions. Normally the price of a beer is $2.00, but then their is the beer batter.  If the beer batter gets a hit the price goes down to $1.00, for the rest of that half inning.  Of course you will spend some extra time in the beer line at reduced prices.  Other concession items such as hamburgers, nachos, hot dogs are all in the one to three dollar range.  One hour of minimum wage pay at $15.00 per hour would get you entertainment and an evening meal at this venue, and some exercise in the process.  The players are Collegiate level, and put on a good show.  If the wrong team is winning the beer is always good.  

    I also watch Collegiate baseball in a more urban setting, which is now in the same league as our local team.  There you can also ride your bicycle to the stadium and park it within view.  Admission is charged there, and had been $5.00.  Concessions are provided by food trucks, and only soft drinks are available.  Let us just say that you are lucky if $10.00 will cover the tab for a person.  Beer is available at the nearby golf course.  The club house is just beyond center field and a fairway.  The price of a beer is $2.50-$3.00 and there is never a beer batter discount.  Let us just say one hour pay at $15.00 an hour minimum wage is not going to cover the outing, and you certainly won't come home with change.  

    On occasion I go to to Denver and see the Rockies. I try never to calculate what that costs but a days wages at  $15.00 per hour minimum wage would be a fair estimate.  To get by on that you will need to watch you beer consumption, as $10.00 a beer with tip is a good estimate.  Parking alone is $7.00 per person split three ways.  Of course you get major league quality which is really not that much better, at least from where you are probably going to sit.  A lot is lost in the joy of watching baseball at a distance.  Gone are the days when a man working for minimum wage can take a couple of kids to a major league ball game, and a $15.00 an hour minimum wage is not nearly enough to get those days back again.  

    I hope this helps explain my first sentence.  A change in the minimum wage will not be the same as it once was, when the rich were taxed at a much higher rate and income disparities were not nearly so large.  The cost disparities vary more widely too now, with some locations totally unaffordable to people making any reasonable national level minimum wage.  They can work there  but you won't get paid for your commuting time to and from your far away bed.  A raise in minimum wage will not fix these poor soul's problem much at all.   


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