Income inequality is more than a political sound bite to workers in the Capitol. It's their life. Many of the Capitol's food servers, who make the meals, bus the tables and run the cash registers in the restaurants and carryouts that serve lawmakers, earn less than $11 an hour. Some make nothing at all when Congress is in recess.
Low-wage workers around the nation went out in protest on April 15, demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour. A few big corporations have begun raising their pay, but some critics say a major hike would hurt employers and kill jobs. Gwen Ifill gets debate from Steve Caldeira of the International Franchise Association and Tsedeye Gebreselassie of the National Employment Law Project.
What if they held a vote to increase the minimum wage and most of the Democrats voted no? That’s what happened in Alaska on Sunday, where the vast majority of Democrats in the state House voted against a measure that would have given low-income workers one of the highest minimum wages in the entire country.
If Congress decides $10.10 an hour is too steep a climb from the existing $7.25 federal minimum wage, might policymakers shake hands on an increase closer to $9 an hour?
As the Congressional Budget Office and the White House continued to disagree Wednesday over the uncertainties and potential labor-market downsides of President Obama’s $10.10 proposal, their dispute -- in its fine print -- was about how much the minimum wage could rise before its evident benefits would erode.
Lately, Republicans have been been pretty happy with government. Well, with one agency at least. Over the last two weeks the number crunchers at the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office have released reports that include some bad news for two significant legislative priorities of President Obama and Democrats--the Affordable Care Act and the minimum wage.
In economic circles, the difference between zero lost jobs and 1 million lost jobs -- in an economy with 137 million of them -- might amount to a polite difference of opinion among academics.
But when a whiff of lower employment Tuesday attached a foul odor to a possible hike in the federal minimum wage, a new political skirmish in Washington was born.
President Obama's call to raise the federal minimum wage could help lift 900,000 workers out of poverty, but at a cost of as many as 500,000 jobs, according to an analysis released today by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
Gwen Ifill is moderator and managing editor of "Washington Week" and co-anchor and managing editor of the "PBS NewsHour." The best-selling author of "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," Gwen has covered seven presidential campaigns and moderated two vice presidential debates.