Letter to the Clintons on the Minimum Wage

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Clinton:

Think back to 1968. Did you expect that there would be thirty million American workers making less in 2013, inflation adjusted, then workers made in 1968?

Would you have thought that this decline in real income would occur when in the intervening years, you, William Jefferson Clinton, were a two-term President of the United States, and you, Hillary Rodham Clinton, were a front runner in the Presidential campaign of 2008? Both of you could have made a living wage into a front burner issue. All this in a period when executive compensation of the bosses of major U.S. corporations has gone through the roof – beyond the dreams of their avarice.

Imagine one million Walmart workers make less today than Walmart workers made in 1968, inflation adjusted. They can start at $7.25 an hour now, while the adjusted 1968 minimum wage would be now at $10.60! The CEO of Walmart, Mike Duke, is making eleven thousand dollars an hour plus benefits. Even though worker productivity has doubled since the sixties, Mr. Duke and other corporate CEOs have resisted raising the minimum wage.

I am writing to ask that you support the Rep. Alan Grayson’s bill (H.R. 1346) which provides for a $10.50 minimum wage to catch up with 1968 and allow thirty million workers to afford more of life’s necessities for themselves and their children. Your personal, not institutional, support for a $10.50 federal minimum wage will galvanize more media to cover this subject in human interest contexts around the country and will encourage the Democrats in Congress and the White House to give this long-overdue equity a higher, urgent priority. Low-wage workers expect and deserve action in Congress and the White House. The time for just talking about raising the minimum wage is long past.

For more details please visit our website timeforaraise.org. Many groups support an inflation adjusted minimum wage, and many citizens are mobilizing to demand that each member of Congress have a town meeting during August Congressional recess on raising the minimum wage to catch up with 1968, inflation adjusted.

Unfortunately, Senator Ted Kennedy is not in the Senate to take up the mantle of leadership, as he had so often, on the minimum wage. When the history of this phase of lifting the minimum wage is written, what the Clintons did or did not do will be of interest to the base of the Democratic Party and the broader public.
Thank you for the courtesy of a response.

Best wishes,

Ralph Nader

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