Pelosi demands minimum wage increase after massive stock market gains

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, March 7, 2013 14:52 EDT
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[Image via Leader Pelosi on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed.]
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Thursday that after witnessing Wall Street reach all-time highs this week, it’s time to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

“This week, we saw something quite remarkable, the stock market soaring to record heights. At the same time, we see productivity keeping pace,” Pelosi said during a Thursday briefing at the Capitol, according to The Hill. “But we don’t see income for America’s middle class rising. In fact, it’s been about the same as since the end of the Clinton years.”

Pelosi’s proposal overshoots a similar one by President Barack Obama, who suggested raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour from the current rate of $7.25, which translates to just $15,080 a year for a full-time employee.

A House Democratic aide told Raw Story that Pelosi asked for more than Obama did because she wants to see working people receive a livable wage, not just a small raise. “The economy is recovering, corporate profits are rising, but wages for lower-income folks are stagnating,” the aide said. “So there’s a strong case to be made for a wage that will help people raise families.”

“If we are going to honor our commitment to the middle class, we have to reflect that intention in our public policy,” Pelosi told reporters.

The Dow Industrial Average closed at 114,253 on Tuesday, an all-time high that bests the previous record set in October 2007, just before the financial crisis that nearly ground the global financial system to a halt.

Despite massive gains in share prices and corporate profits in recent years, under-employment remains rampant and the overall unemployment rate is hovering around 8 percent, according to a Gallup survey released Thursday.

Proponents say raising the minimum wage to $10.10 more closely reflects the purchasing power of the minimum wage in 1968, which was roughly $10.50 an hour when adjusted for inflation.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said Tuesday they are proposing legislation to raise the minimum wage and peg it to the rate of inflation, which they say would better ensure working class Americans don’t fall behind the curb as corporate and Wall Street keep the lion’s share of profits for themselves.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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