Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Raise minimum wage, say some on the right

By
January 14, 2014 | Leave Comment

By Carolyn Lochhead
WASHINGTON — As East Bay Rep. George Miller spearheads a Democratic drive to raise the federal minimum wage, he is getting support from unlikely quarters, including Silicon Valley millionaire Ron Unz and conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.

“People are starting to realize how much in federal subsidies are given to these employers that pay less than a living wage,” Miller said.

The federal government supplements low wages through such programs as food stamps, school lunches, Medicaid, housing vouchers and the earned income tax credit, a cash grant to the working poor.

Most minimum-wage workers are adults, not teenagers, and the vast majority are women. A study last fall by the UC Berkeley Labor Center found that half of fast-food workers were enrolled in at least one public assistance program.

Even full-time work often leaves minimum-wage workers in poverty. The study pegged the taxpayer cost of federal aid to low-wage workers at $243 billion a year for the fast-food industry alone.

Business-backed Republicans in Congress and their allied think tanks argue that raising the cost of labor would eliminate jobs. But they are scrambling to respond in the face of broad public support and rising alarm on the right that the economic recovery is bypassing most workers.

A Gallup Poll in November found that 76 percent of those surveyed, including more than half of Republicans, backed an increase in the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour.

Saving on welfare
Schlafly wrote last week in her online column that raising the minimum wage “may actually be worth considering” if it saves money on welfare.

“Legislation to raise the minimum wage would elevate many low-wage earners above the income threshold that qualifies them for benefits and should result in reduced welfare spending,” Schlafly wrote. “That’s a trade-off Republicans could support.”

Unz, a former Republican candidate for governor, is doing more than considering the idea. He’s sponsoring a proposed California ballot initiative that would raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2016.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law last year raising the wage to $9 an hour starting July 1 and to $10 by 2016 from the current $8, but Unz says that’s still too low.

“What we are faced with in America is the classic case of business interests privatizing the benefits of their workers and socializing the costs,” Unz said.

Such feelers on the right, however, have yet to catch on with congressional Republicans. The Republican Study Committee, representing House conservatives, announced an “anti-poverty initiative” last week that made no mention of the minimum wage and called poverty “often a symptom of deeper and more intransigent problems, like fatherlessness and community breakdown.”

The members said Congress should promote “personal responsibility” by bolstering foster care, encouraging violence prevention measures and “healthy marriage,” and other efforts.

Recession’s effects
Miller thinks the recession has undermined the appeal of the personal-responsibility argument to middle-class voters who have struggled to survive.

The working poor are “accepting every bit of personal responsibility you can possibly put on them,” Miller said. “They go to work every day. They work on unpredictable schedules. They have children at home. They still go to work. And when they come home, they’re poor.”

Miller’s bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act – sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, in the Senate and endorsed by the White House – would raise the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour over three years and index it to inflation.

“Republicans don’t know it yet,” Miller said, “but they’re going to vote to pass this bill.”

Rising income inequality is expected to be a central theme of President Obama’s State of the Union address later this month. There are signs that some on the right are open to the debate.

The conservative Weekly Standard, for example, ripped Silicon Valley’s extremes of economic and social inequality last month, describing a “master/servant” class structure of startup millionaires and the “tech spin-off jobs” they create for baristas, manicurists and pizza deliverers.

A report last month by the Congressional Budget Office said the top 1 percent of U.S. earners received 15 percent of the nation’s income in 2010, a 16 percent increase from 2009. Poor people’s share of U.S. income rose just 1 percent, and the middle-class increase was even less.

Huge gap for workers
Corporate CEOs earned 20 to 30 times more than the average worker in 1979; now they earn 273 times more, according to White House figures.

Some conservatives say that relying on “personal responsibility” isn’t the only solution to closing income gaps without raising the minimum wage. Martin Feldstein, who served as an economic adviser to former President Ronald Reagan, has called for raising the earned income tax credit, arguing that higher cash subsidies would permit wages to fall well below the current $7.25 federal minimum, which would boost job growth.

Unz, however, argues that a minimum-wage boost would be unlikely to cost jobs, because most low-wage workers are employed in service industries immune to foreign competition.

And in most cases, he said, the pass-through to consumers would be minor. A $12-an-hour wage, he estimates, would raise the price of a McDonald’s hamburger by a dime.

A $12 minimum wage would amount to a $50,000 annual income for a full-time working couple. Unz said that would amount to a giant government stimulus package that would help the working poor, save taxpayers money and be paid for entirely by the private sector.

“We’re talking about raising the value of work and cutting welfare,” Unz said. “That’s what Reagan used to say when I became a conservative.”

— Reach Carolyn Lochhead at clochhead@sfchronicle.com

San Francisco Chronicle

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Chuck Rairdan joins school board race

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

    Going green at church, school, everywhere

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Former caretaker convicted of murder, elder abuse

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

    Old friend helps Brad and others find kidneys

    By Dave Jones | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Ukraine insurgents reject call to quit buildings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 8 Comments

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    UCD to host Global Health Day event

    By Cory Golden | From Page: A2

     
    ‘Hitchhiking’ dog looking for new home

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Online K-12 school holds info night

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Schwenger lawn signs available

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Volunteers needed for Grad Night

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Davis grad makes rain collection a business

    By Jason McAlister | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    A few spots left on history tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Chipotle fundraiser boosts Emerson tech upgrade

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Event to provide nature scholarship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Students have new options on leasing front

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Groups join for a day of service

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    NAMI backers walk in Sacramento

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Food for the hungry

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

    .

    Forum

    Dad makes mom look bad

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

     
    Early help is a great investment

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    More tax money? Answer the question

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6, 10 Comments

     
    UCD IS responsible for students

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 5 Comments

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    In search of great ideas

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

     
    Please keep the nursery open

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Sharks double up Kings in Game 1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Aggies lose a slugfest in opener at Riverside

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Fox coming to UCD; Riffle heads to Florida

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    DHS’ Golston goes full-bore on the diamond

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils show more life in loss to Mitty

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    DYSA roundup: Intensity has big week; 10U games dominate schedule

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Sports briefs: Aggies set the academic bar high

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    Pro baseball roundup: Susac sends Sacramento to a rare loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Transcendence’: A whole new level of tedium

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    ‘The Bloom’ paves way for Whole Earth Festival

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    DHS tribute to Tony Fields slated for April 25-26

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    UCD, city team up for Music on the Green

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    .

    Business

    Ford turns its Focus to domestic market

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, April 18, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Acacia at Huntington Square

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Jamie Madison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Yolo FCU

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Travis Credit Union

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

    Kim Eichorn

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Suzanne Kimmel

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Lynne Wegner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Kim Merrel Lamb

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Patricia Echevarria

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Chris Snow

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Andrew Dowling

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Sheryl Patterson

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Don Guthrie

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Heather Barnes

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Julie Partain & Dick Partain

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Malek Baroody

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER13

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Willowbank Park

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Team Traverso

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Julie Leonard

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Tim Harrison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Lori Prizmich

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Raul Zamora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Joe Kaplan

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Open House Map

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    F1rst Street Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20