The minimum wage is one of the hottest topics in US politics. Even though the conditions of workers in the country have dramatically changed over the last few decades, the minimum wage has literally remained the same. Right now, the minimum wage in the US stands at $7.25 per hour. The last time there was any change on the wage was 10 years ago during the first term of former president Barack Obama. The rate was at the time increased to the current $7.25 but has not changed since then for a whopping 3615 days. This is the longest period of inactivity since the federal minimum wage was introduced back in 1938 during President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration.
It’s also important to note that despite this level of inactivity, the cost of living in the United States has been on the rise since 2009. Many proponents of higher wages have chided at Congress saying that it’s about time lawmakers in Washington started to actively listen and act before it’s too late. Many Democrats believe that the current $7.25 per hour rate is not enough for people to survive anywhere in the US including the rural areas due to the high cost of living. In fact, some are even calling for $15 per hour as the most appropriate comprise moving forward. This would be more than double the current rate.
But why, despite efforts from lobbyist and support from Democrats, has the federal minimum wage remained the same for almost a decade. It’s actually not a big mystery, since republicans have had control of Congress for years. It was only during the first term of President Obama when Democrats had the numbers to effect any legislative changes on their own without the Republicans. Since then, the GOP has been able to hold a majority and as such, any legal changes on the minimum wage have remained just a dream.
It may be a long time before anything happens. Even though Democrats were able to retain control of the House of Representatives in the midterms, the GOP still has control of the Senate and the White House through President Donald Trump. Most in the GOP leadership have already pushed back on calls to review the minimum wage even in the current economic boom. The president himself has not given any clear indication of where he stands on the subject. Trump has in fact flip-flopped so many times on the federal minimum wage that it’s unclear whether he will be willing to support legislative action from both Democrats and Republicans.
But many experts believe that Congress has the biggest sway on this issue. If lawmakers were to hush out a deal, it’s very likely that the president will also get on board. But since he was elected into office, president Trump has never advocated an increase in the federal minimum wage. The president has also been rolling back labor regulations designed to protect low wage workers over the last few years. In that case, it’s only a democratic majority in Congress that can really be trusted to initiate meaningful change.