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Representative Berman continues fight for a fair Minimum Wage

Location: Washington, DC


New Economic Data Shows that Bush Economy
Largely Helping Corporations, Very Wealthy

Washington, D.C. - The Bush Administration released new economic data last week that showed that corporations and the wealthiest Americans are earning more money than expected this year, while the average working American is earning less.

Looking at the new figures, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that "[t]he share of national income going to corporations and the wealthiest individuals, already large, has expanded, while the share going to typical wage earners has shrunk…Individual income taxes were revised up 7%, with the increase primarily from wealthier taxpayers. Payroll taxes -- for Social Security, levied only on the first $94,200 of wage income, and Medicare -- are expected to total 1% less than expected. So, the tax windfall is another piece of evidence that income inequality in the U.S. continues to grow..."

Rep. Berman said today that this evidence of a growing gap between the wealthiest and all other Americans is yet another reason to support an increase in the federal minimum wage. The minimum wage has not been increased since 1997 and is at its lowest point in 50 years when adjusted for inflation. But the Republican-controlled Congress has blocked all efforts to increase it.

"This new information illustrates the growing disparity between the wealthiest and everyone else in this country," said Rep. Berman. "In the Bush economy, the wealthiest few Americans are getting richer, while the millions of working Americans earning the minimum wage are getting poorer. Working Americans are being pinched by the rising prices for everything from gas to health care. Meanwhile, President Bush and Republicans in Washington are not focused on policies that would help working families."

He added, "Democrats believe Americans want to reward work with fair pay, and that is why we insist that the minimum wage be raised from $5.15 to $7.25 over two years. A minimum wage earner who works full-time all year earns just $10,700, leaving them well below the poverty line. This is simply not acceptable in America. More than 80 percent of Americans support an increase in the minimum wage. Democrats have voted seven times in recent weeks in support of an increase and we will continue pushing for action on this issue until it becomes law."

Republican leaders in Congress have stated they oppose a minimum wage increase but may allow a vote to occur this year.

"Republican leaders must not attempt to defeat this proposal by attaching ‘poison pill' provisions, such as unfair changes to labor laws. The American people deserve a fair up-or-down vote on a real minimum wage bill," concluded Rep. Berman.

In the United States, 6.6 million people would benefit from a raise in the minimum wage, including 1.8 million parents with children. Nearly three-quarters of minimum wage workers are adults over the age of 20, and many are responsible for over half of their family's income.

Rep. Berman has signed a "discharge petition," which would force a Floor vote on the Democrats' minimum wage bill if supporters secure 218 Member signatures. There are currently 191 signatures on the petition.

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