The GOP kills a minimum living wage for the working poor

Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would raise the minimum wage in New Jersey incrementally to $15/hr over five years.

phoebus-christie-space.jpgAssemblyman Parker Space and Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus are thrilled. Not only did they vote against the New Jersey Legislature’s effort to help the working poor, both explained that they will personally benefit financially from the Governor's action. And Phoebus makes no bones about it. She told the New Jersey Herald all about the benefits her business enjoys by keeping the wages she pays her employees less than a living wage.

Workers employed full time in New Jersey need a wage of at least $15/hour to support themselves. To the extent employers like Space and Phoebus don't pay their workers sufficient income to live, somebody makes up the difference. That somebody is us, the taxpayers.

In America, we do our best to keep poor working folks fed, provide them with necessary medical services, and afford them places to live and raise kids, other than the street. When employers like Space and Phoebus fail to pay their workers a living wage, taxpayers subsidize their business. When employers drop the ball, the government takes up the slack by providing social programs like Medicaid, food stamps, rental assistance, etc.

Mandating a minimum wage that approaches a living wage would put the burden of financially maintaining the labor force where it belongs -- on the businesses that shirk their responsibility, not on the taxpayer.

This editorial in the Star Ledger reflects the outrage felt by anyone who has thought through the issue of raising the minimum wage to a level that supports the working poor.