Democratic Party officials are pleased to see that their push for a minimum wage increase is making progress across the country. Last December, many political organizations, labor groups, and Democratic politicians decided to focus a big chunk of their midterm election strategy on income inequality. Democrats are hoping to see the push for higher wages, along with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as an all-hands-on-deck effort to rebuild the middle-class. So far, according to a recent ABC News poll, the strategy seems to be working.
In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama announced his plan to work toward raising minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. This would be an increase of $2.85 from the current $7.25. Many of the states where this plan is being pushed the hardest just happen to have huge Senate races this year. Some of these states include Alaska, South Dakota, and Arkansas.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) could not be happier with how the Democratic Party push for a higher minimum wage is making progress. Rep. Israel is stated as saying that the more Republicans and conservatives focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act, and the more the Democrats focus on raising minimum wage, the more votes will swing their way. The reasoning here is that by opposing Obamacare and a wage increase, it makes Republicans appear to be against rebuilding the middle-class.
It is hard to tell whether this push will actually gain the Democratic Party enough traction to pull off important Senate victories this November; but according to the poll, it is an issue that many voters are taking into consideration. It seems unlikely that a federal minimum wage hike will get passed successfully through Congress, but state government efforts are well underway. It seems that a large number of the American people support the hike, with 50 percent of the 1,002 adults surveyed in the poll saying they would vote for a candidate that was in favor of raising the wage.
The poll also discovered that only 36 percent of adults would vote for a Republican solely on the issue of repealing Obamacare. All in all, it seems that individuals belonging to either party are behaving as expected. The majority of those who are Republicans will not vote for a candidate in favor of Obamacare, while the majority of Democrats will not vote for a candidate that is not supportive of raising the minimum wage. Both parties are simply playing politics, feeding their respective base the type of policy information they want to hear, in order to get them motivated for the midterms.
Democratic Party candidates face an uphill battle, especially in the area of economics, since experiencing setbacks with the Keystone XL pipeline and the funds for unemployment slowly drying up. They need a big push to help them gain some traction for the election, and to prevent a complete Republican takeover of Congress, and they are hoping that minimum wage is what will give them that momentum.
The Republican Party strategy is similar, as they continue to focus on repealing Obamacare. Many across the country are dissatisfied with the program, and others have experienced negative side effects such as losing their job or their insurance coverage. This gives Republican candidates an edge with their base, and as problems with Obamacare continue, this base could continue to grow, extending outside of the conservative camp.
No one really knows how effective either strategy will end up being in the long run, but one thing that is certain is that this issue is a big one for Americans, so regardless of stance, both parties need to address it. If Republicans decide to oppose the hike, they need to express a clear reason why, and provide an alternative solution that will help improve economic health throughout the country. If they neglect to discuss the minimum wage push by the Democratic Party, as it continues making progress, it could lead to Republicans losing their opportunity to take Congress.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell