The Left’s Divide on Increasing the Minimum Wage
The Trump administration’s four tumultuous years left many in the country with one hope: unity in government. But now that liberals control both chambers of Congress and the Executive Branch, ideological rifts are resurfacing. There is now a focus on increasing the minimum wage.
The debate over one piece of the 2021 stimulus package highlights this rift. Progressives support the inclusion of a hike in the minimum wage in the bill. Some centrists, on the other hand, are on the fence about the increase as it currently stands. This rift in the liberal party could signal a difficult road ahead.
Progressive support for the $15 minimum wage
Progressives have long been outspoken in their support for an increase to the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has not changed in many years and has not kept up with inflation. Increasing it is seen as a human and workers’ rights issue and will help reduce the wealth gap.
To progressives, including the minimum wage increase in the COVID-19 relief package seems natural. Millions of service workers who put their health at risk every day are poorly compensated. Increasing their pay seems like a moral imperative and will stimulate the economy in an organic way.
Centrist hesitation to increase the minimum wage
Some moderate Democrats are on the fence about including the minimum wage increase in the stimulus bill. And others are completely opposed to the increase.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has said he opposes increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. And Senator John Tester of Montana has voiced his support for the increase, but his opposition to including that increase in the current stimulus bill. He argues that such a law requires more debate.
Eight Senate Democrats, including Manchin and Tester, voted for some Republican amendments to the bill. This signals their willingness to break with their party. Biden has acknowledged that because the party is not fully united behind the minimum wage hike, it will likely fall out of the package in the end.