The Democrats should make these three issues central to the 2014 campaign:
1. Raising the Minimum Wage.
2. Protecting Social Security.
There are many reasons for raising the minimum wage, which provides an annual salary of $15,080 (more than $7,000 less than the poverty rate for a family of four of $22,283).
Besides the obvious goal of relieving these families from daily economic distress, raising it will decrease the outrageous transfer of wealth from taxpayers to minimum wage corporations such as those in the fast food industry and Walmart. This is a blatant subsidy to those companies, which we provide in the form of food stamps and Medicaid — funds that should be part of employees salaries.
In fact, raising the minimum wage is linked to deficit reduction, by shifting some of these costs from the taxpayers and the government to the minimum wage paying corporations.
But another beneficial effect actually connects a higher minimum wage to preserving social security.
The current social security cap on earnings is $113,730. Most of us here believe that the preferable ways to provide additional solvency to social security include: (a) raising the cap, (b) raising the cap after a “doughnut hole” between the current cap and, e.g., $250,000, and/or (c) applying the tax to capital gains income.
The current House of Representations (and the less than 60 vote Dem majority in the Senate) makes any of these politically impossible.
However, raising the minimum wage may be less politically impossible than raising the cap.
Approximately [3,550,000 workers make the minimum wage or below (see http://www.pewresearch.org/… ) in the US.] If the minimum wage is raised by $2.00 an hour for, say 3,000,000 people, they will make collectively an additional $12,480,000,000. Applying the current payroll tax rate of 6.2% results in an additional $773,776,000 contribution per year to the social security trust fund.
I will leave it to the actuaries among us to figure out by how much that additional contribution would extend the current projected date of 2033 for depletion of the trust fund.
But it doesn’t seem insignificant.
With the uncertain fate of health care (at least as a 2014 issue), these two issue are a great opportunity to let people know what we are for and they are against.
Greg Sargent highlights a stunningly callous remark from Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell about his constituents who are finally getting health insurance for the first time, in large part from Medicaid.
“Well look, if I went out here on the street today [and said], ‘You guys want free health care?’ I expect you’d have a lot of signups,” he said. “People signing up for something that is free” is the only thing about Obamacare in Kentucky that could be considered successful.Asked more than once what parts of Obamacare, if any, were beneficial to the millions of people in the country without health care, McConnell had only one answer, stating repeatedly: “The law should be repealed.”
Sargent wonders whether Democrats can win running on Medicaid and against attitudes like McConnell’s, and the perception that the law mostly benefits poor people, but won’t help them.
Dems may well worry that if the Medicaid expansion gets framed solely as expanding a government program for the poor—the handout that McConnell describes—it could put them at risk. Dems will probably emphasize that the expansion is sound budgetary policy,arguing that it makes sense for states to accept huge amounts of federal money.
Medicaid expansion, though, is more than just budgetary policy and it’s more than just assistance to the poor. The number of community hospitals closing, particularly in rural areas in red states, shows dramatically that it’s not just about the uninsured. The hospitals are closing because they are losing Medicaid funding that Medicaid expansion was supposed to replace. When Republicans refuse to take the Medicaid expansion and don’t come up with any replacement funding, hospitals close.
Those hospitals don’t just close for poor people. They close for everybody. And health emergencies don’t just happen to poor people, they happen to everybody. The lack of health care access to entire communities because of stupid, stubborn Republican opposition to Obamacare is definitely something Democrats can run on.