It’s been a while since Congressional Democrats have rallied around President Barack Obama’s push for a Federal minimum wage increase, so it’s about time for some fresh publicity. The midterms are less than four months away.
So this week, a gaggle of Democratic Representatives is putting itself through the minimum wage austerity experience, attempting to get by on $77 for a week — a budget that’s supposed to reflect the discretionary spending power that comes from earning a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Here’s how progressive blog ThinkProgress weeps over the tribulations of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who joined with Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Keith Ellinson (D-Minn.), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and others in attempting to subsist on fast-food earnings:
Since he began his minimum wage challenge on Sunday, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, now president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has had eggs and toast, a bowl of cereal with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a banana. On Monday, he came to work with a bologna and cheese sandwich and a banana. “I’m not sure what I’m going to have for supper,” he told ThinkProgress.
He’s also had to give up some pleasures. “I was walking by a nice restaurant last night near my apartment and people were sitting outside and eating nice food and drinking,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘You know what would be nice? To have a cold beer.’ But you know, I didn’t. Ordinarily I would, but if you don’t have much money there’s a lot of things you can’t do.”
Sounds like he’s in a cold, dark place.
This “Live The Wage Challenge” theater is the product of a push, on the five-year anniversary of the last Federal minimum wage increase, to persuade Congress to raise the Federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The challenge, which has a website that invites you to participate, is sponsored by dozens of labor unions and progressive organizations, according to a report from The Washington Free Beacon.
Instead of living for one week on minimum wage, perhaps well-intentioned Democrats could challenge themselves to live for one year on a middle-class wage (while they’re at it, they might even consider enriching the endeavor by doing middle-class work). It would be an experience far more representative of Americans who, while working to pursue their careers and long-term goals, must make tough financial decisions that have lifelong consequences.