LIFTING MINIMUM WAGE WORKERS OUT OF POVERTY -- (House of Representatives - January 10, 2007)
Mr. WELCH of Vermont. Mr. Speaker, $2.32 for a gallon of gas, $2.99 for a gallon of milk, $20 or $25 for a single day of childcare. These are real prices and, too often, real choices that working Americans face every day.
In Vermont, and across America, we have had a proud tradition of self-reliance and sense of community. We need to combine these two values, self-reliance on the one hand and community on the other, by rewarding work and making work pay.
We send a message every day to our citizens and our workers that we value work and that government has a role to play in ensuring opportunity to everyone willing to contribute. It is time we matched that message with our own leadership.
It is no accident that in Vermont and more than 20 States around the country, Republicans and Democrats, working together, have led in the effort to reward work with a reasonable minimum wage above our national minimum last set nearly a decade ago.
There are few more important tasks before us than addressing the growing economic gap between America's wealthiest citizens and low income workers.
Last year, millionaires were given tax breaks that put an average of $40,000 in their pockets, and yet middle class workers who earn less than $20,000 received just two dollars. Two dollars--for the whole year. That is rewarding wealth rather than work.
Today a full-time minimum wage worker earns just $10,712 annually--more than $2,000 below the poverty line for a family of two. Asking millions of our neighbors to work full time without a wage above poverty is wrong.
I believe that Congress must raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour to help life every minimum wage worker out of poverty.
Today and together, we can begin to restore a balance, by rewarding work and not just wealth, acknowledging we are all in this together.