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Week of 10.27.06

Minimum Wedge

In the final days of campaigning, a big battle is brewing over small wages. While Congress raises their own wages routinely, they have not touched the federal minimum wage level in nearly a decade.

This year, 11 states have approved raising the minimum wage. Six others — Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio — have it on the ballot next month. This week NOW visits a Missourian who's relying on the minimum wage to support her entire family.

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She and others are engaged in a David vs. Goliath struggle — in some cases against members of Congress — to bring about something close to a "living wage" for those making the very least. Democratic strategists are hoping this issue will light a fire under fellow Democrats to get them to the polls in some crucial battleground states.

Related Links:

Minimum Wages in 2005
(Selected Countries)
Country Rate/hr.*
Belgium $9.82
Canada $5.13 - $6.95
France $9.64
Ireland $9.24
Japan $5.77 - $6.76
The Netherlands $9.48
Spain $3.88
United Kingdom $7.45 - $8.82
Source: U.S. State Department
*Monthly minimum wage rates were used to calculate hourly rates where required.
National Low Income Housing Coalition: Out of Reach 2005

Economic Policy Institute: Minimum Wage FAQs

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now: 7 Days @ Minimum Wage

The New York Times: What is a Living Wage?

The Center for American Progress: The High(er) Stakes of the Minimum Wage Debate

Employment Policies Institute

National Federal of Independent Business

Save Our State's Jobs (Missouri group opposed to the minimum wage ballot initiative)

Also This Week: Church and State

Phill Kline Also this week we look into allegations by a nonprofit group that Kansas' attorney general, Phill Kline, may be illegally leveraging two churches in a bid to win re-election.

A complaint filed this week by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonpartisan legal watchdog group, has called for an IRS investigation into the role the churches played in Kline's campaign.

CREW cite a memorandum [pdf] from Kline to members of his campaign staff asking them to recruit churches to distribute campaign literature and serve as sites for events. In the memo, Kline directs his staff to "Get the pastor to invite 5 'money people' who he knows can help."

"This is the top law enforcement official in the state who is encouraging everyone to break the law," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW in a New York Times article on Thursday (October 26). A spokeswoman for Mr. Kline was not returning calls to her office, The Times reported.

The commissioner of the I.R.S., Mark W. Everson, has said that the agency will crack down on religious organizations that violate laws barring charities, including churches, from involvement in political activities. Additional accusations of such violations have been made against religious organizations in California, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio during this election cycle, according to The New York Times.

More from NOW:

View NOW's previous report "What's the Matter with Kansas?" on Phill Kline's controversial tactics

"God's Country"

Related Documents:

Memo from Phill Kline to his campaign staff directing them to recruit churches to distribute campaign literature and serve as sites for events. [pdf]

Complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) calling for an IRS investigation into two churches supporting the re-election campaign of the Kansas attorney general, Phill Kline.

Related Links:

IRS: New procedures for 2006 election season

IRS: Remarks by the IRS Commissioner, Mark W. Everson, on the new procedures