House’s proposed hike needed

George Bush is presently holding the threat of a presidential veto over a House bill that would economically benefit some of the most needy of American workers.

The House of Representatives voted 248-171 last Thursday in support of a bill which would increase the minimum wage from the current $3.35 to $4.55 by 1991. The raise, the first such minimum wage hike since 1981, would take place in gradual increments.

Approval of the bill was primarily along party lines, as Bush and House Republicans voiced opposition to the move. Democratic leaders attempted a compromise by including in the bill a “training wage” provision which would give new workers 85 percent of the minimum wage for their first two months of work. But the president wants a six-month training wage and a hike of only 90 cents (rather than $1.20) over the next three years. He ultimately warned of the possibility of vetoing the passed House bill.

A minimum wage increase is more than overdue, and the already-approved bill is a necessary measure in bringing more fairness to the job market. Newly-released congressional data has shown that, between 1979 and 1987, the average family income of the highest-paid fifth of the United States jumped 11.1 percent. In the same time period, the lowest-paid fifth of the country saw its income fall 6.1 percent. (The rich get richer …)

That poorest fifth is one group that would see the most benefit in a substantial minimum wage increase, and President Bush should not hinder efforts to bring more fairness to American workers’ wages.