Florida Delegation Readies for Minimum-Wage Vote
Around the State
This week, senators and congressmen from Florida readied for a vote on President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Obama’s proposal is expected to come up for a vote in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate on Wednesday but it does not have much hope of passing the Republican-controlled U.S. House. Republicans are promising to reject the minimum-wage hike on Wednesday though Democrats are signaling they intend to keep the issue before the Senate.
This week, appearing on Univision America’s “Zona Politica” with Helen Aguirre, a radio show in Spanish, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., agreed there are “three alternatives” to Obama’s plan for the minimum wage.
“A lot is being said about increasing the minimum wage,” Aguirre told Rubio. “There are those who say that this may have a damaging effect on the economy. Others say that there is no other choice. One cannot make their basic expenses on the current minimum wage. Is there a third alternative?”
“I've proposed a change to something which in English is called the wage enhancement, which instead of the earned income tax credit which exists today, additional money is given monthly to these low-income workers, instead of once a year through their taxes, monthly through what they're charging at their jobs,” Rubio told Aguirre. “I think the minimum wage is not enough. Nobody can live on $10 and 10 cents, which is what they want to increase.
“In the meantime, there are many small businesses that will have to cut hours or the number of employees in order to afford that,” Rubio continued. “A small business cannot absorb this type of dramatic change. I think the alternative in the long run is education because nowadays in this century, the jobs that pay good money, that give enough money in order to live, all those jobs require some type of training. It doesn't have to be from a university. It can be in a career such as electrician or car mechanic, but many of our young people don't have any type of training, and they can't find jobs because the jobs that exist require some type of education.”
But Democrats show no sign of backing off from Obama’s proposal, even as they admit it has almost no chance of passing the U.S. House. Looking to her Tampa Bay district, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., went after Republicans on Tuesday for opposing raising the minimum wage.
“Working families are being squeezed as wages are not keeping up with the rise in the cost of living,” Castor insisted. “Tampa Bay families need higher-wage jobs, more affordable college options and a greater commitment to retirement security.”
Castor expressed little confidence Obama’s minimum-wage hike had much chance in the House.
“The challenge in the GOP-controlled Congress is that the wealthy and powerful have an unfair advantage,” Castor maintained. “Why won’t Republicans consider closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations? Why won’t they consider a minimum-wage increase? Working families needs a fair playing field and an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy.”
Democrats should be able to count on 54 of the 55 members of their Senate caucus to back the minimum-wage increase with U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., a top Republican target in November, expected to vote against it. Only one Republican -- U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. -- has said he plans to vote for the minimum-wage hike. With 55 votes, Democrats will need to get five more votes to ensure Republicans can't block the proposal.
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