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Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Louisiana for yielding.

I find today a lot of questions, a lot of unanswered questions, and a lot of half decent debate going on.

I wonder, first of all, why we didn't bring this bill through committee. Certainly if it is a good idea, it would have been something worth debating and perhaps some amendments. But under the new ``open rule' Democrat Party, I understand we can bypass the committee and not have any hearings or amendments.

The next question is, why are so many people who were opposed to the Bush tax cut for the lower income going from 15 percent to 10 percent tax bracket, why are they now so compassionate to the poor?

And I have to ask, also, why are you stopping at $7 an hour? If it is good for the economy and good for the workers, as we keep hearing over and over again, why do we stop at $7 an hour, this arbitrary number? Nobody can make a living at $14,000 a year. Why not go to $8 an hour, $9 an hour, $10, $20 an hour? Heck, if it is good for the economy, let us go to $50 an hour. And if we had a committee hearing, maybe we could have some answers on that.

Question: If it is so good for the economy, why does the Congressional Budget Office rate it as a $5 to $7 billion unfunded mandate on our small businesses, which are the economic engines of the economy? How come the Hoover Institute estimates that it will actually get 20 percent of the minimum wage workers out of work because people will say you are not worth that much money? Those are questions that we don't have answers to.

Another question that I have is we keep hearing that the minimum wage hasn't been increased in 9 years, when, in fact, since 1997, 29 States have increased their minimum wages. We do not hear about that because I guess we are against States' rights in any form around here. That seems to be a taboo kind of thing.

But what is also interesting is that 85 percent of the people who make minimum wage are well above the poverty level. Why? Because 52 percent of the people on minimum wage are teenagers, 30 percent are part time, and 40 percent have never had a job before. In fact, if we want to take a real serious look at poverty, we need to look at the correlation between poverty and hours worked a week. The reality is so many people are working less than 40 hours a week.

The second point, very important, is marriage. If you want to get a lot of the children who are in poverty out of poverty right now, get the mom and dad to marry each other.

Now, that wasn't in the first 100-hour agenda. I understand. We are rolling out the moldy, oldie golden hits of Democrat thought. But let's get into poverty and let's have some real hearings.


Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California, and I want to say this legislation gets an ``A' in politics and a ``D-minus' in economics; an ``A' is politics most people aren't going to notice that the very people who are pushing it are the ones who voted against the Bush tax cuts for the low-income bracket, reducing it from 15 percent to 10 percent.

It is going to be good politics because most people will overlook the fact that the majority of the Democrat Party are going to vote against affordable health care for the working poor.

It is good politics because most people won't notice that the Democrats didn't have a committee meeting which would have given them an opportunity to parade out all of these workers who they have been saying over and over again depend on Congress for their salary and wages because apparently they cannot earn more on their own, only Congress themselves can increase this.

It is going to be good politics for them because most people won't realize that, since 1997, in the last 9 years, that 29 States have increased the minimum wage, and that is a fact that keeps getting overlooked.

And it is going to be good politics because most folks know that union wages are going to be linked into this, and it is going to increase the wage salary for the union workers who support them so dearly.

But it is going to be bad economically. As I said, an ``A' in politics and a ``D' in economics because the reality is that most minimum-wage earners are part-time, and most are well above the poverty level. Most are teenage workers: 52 percent under 25; 40 percent have never had a job before. It is an entry level job.

If the Democrat Party truly wanted to take on poverty, they would have to say, what is the relationship between marriage and the poverty level, and between hours worked and the poverty level. Because the truth of the matter is if people in poverty, if many of them would marry and many of them would work 40 hours a week, they would be out of poverty. It is not anything I claim to have the franchise on, the knowledge of, all of the information on, but it is an economic fact. I hope that we can have committee hearings on that and discuss that, because if we want to attack poverty, that is where we need to go.


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