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Boxer Calls for Higher Minimum Wage at San Francisco Commonwealth Club Appearance

"We owe it to our working families," Boxer said. "Nobody who works full-time should have to raise her children in poverty."

Senator Boxer is pictured in March 2013.
Senator Boxer is pictured in March 2013.
By Bay City News Service: 

Sen. Barbara Boxer Wednesday visited San Francisco's Commonwealth Club, where she called on her colleagues in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage and to restore long-term unemployment benefits.

 Boxer, a Democrat serving her fourth six-year term in the Senate, decried the partisanship that she said has led to a stalemate over measures intended to help the working poor.

 "It has been a brutal time, but I believe unnecessarily so," she said in a speech to an overflow crowd at the Commonwealth Club's Market Street office. "Our federal government could have done so much more."

 Boxer said the decline of the country's middle class has led to dangerous levels of income inequality, citing a well-reported statistic that the 400 top-earning Americans have more wealth than the lowest-earning 150 million. She said raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to the $10.10 currently proposed would help the lowest-paid workers around the country.

"We owe it to our working families," Boxer said. "Nobody who works full-time should have to raise her children in poverty."

 Congress in December allowed federal long-term unemployment benefits to expire, affecting 1.2 million Americans -- including about 200,000 in California, Boxer said.

 "It makes no economic sense," she said. "Extending these benefits is the morally right thing to do."

 The senator read letters from constituents, including one in the East Bay city of Albany, who are struggling to make ends meet after losing their benefits while still looking for a job.

 In a question-and-answer session with the crowd following her speech, Boxer reiterated her support for comprehensive immigration reform, as well as green job creation and other policies to address global climate change.


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roynsann1 February 20, 2014 at 11:51 AM
Just curious. If I work now for 9.50 having gotten raises the last 3 years, what would be done to compensate my time in the company compared to the ones making minimum wage now? Just curious as this was an issue on a TV program recently.
kate williams February 20, 2014 at 12:09 PM
Why does LG pay its minimum wage workers less then SJ pays theirs?
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 20, 2014 at 12:29 PM
Kate, because San Jose city council passed a municipal law raising the minimum wage in the city limits.
Marc Parent February 20, 2014 at 02:10 PM
Sen Boxer should raise the wage she pays her aids and interns, many of which are not paid minimum wage. While I have had positive experience with Sen Feinstein's office , Sen Boxer's office is quite horrific by comparison when calling my Senators office. Reps Speier and Eshoo are also quite lovely by comparison. With her lack of respect for her constituents as well as her past history with check kiting, time to retire Babs.
carole mason February 20, 2014 at 05:55 PM
wow do you know the senate runs a $300,00 plus budget deficit and she wants to tell businesses what to pay people? I know for a fact entry level jobs that pay minimum wage are for teenagers who need to learn the work experience and are not meant to support a family I mean really ...they are not meant to support anyone. Minimum wage let's think about this you FORCE a company to pay entry level employees more where do you think they will get the money print it like the fed? they will hire less people or charge more for their product? It does make me feel warm and cozy about Barbara though like hugging a porcupine.
bbkamm February 21, 2014 at 04:49 AM
This just flies in the face of the laws of economics--no matter how nice we want to be to low wage earners or how much you want their vote. When we raise the price of something, the demand for it drops. So raise the minimum wage and there will be fewer minimum wage jobs, maybe not right away, but certainly over time. Then those of us who remain in the workforce can support those who can't find a job or no longer need to find a job because we're are subsidizing them. If minimum wage jobs, which are truly intended as entry level jobs, disappear, we could be supporting those who never got to enter the workforce for a long, long time.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 21, 2014 at 03:21 PM
Except that if you raise the lowest income earners above the poverty level, you eliminate a lot of them from the welfare rolls. The number of people actually subsisting on minimum wage jobs is infinitesimal so it really matters very little. The Bay Area has higher minimal wages and has the lowest unemployment in the country.
carole mason February 21, 2014 at 04:51 PM
you must be kidding minimum wage does not raise you out of poverty sounds good but it is not true neither is it supposed to be a living wage it is a starter wage. I am not sure why people think it is anything other than that--- there is no fair about it, that is appropriate here. It is just something to use to divide people "we are for it you are not" we all want jobs and employment but raising the minimum wage actually has the opposite effect. Less regulation, lower taxes, curbing unlimited government creates jobs and puts more money that we do work for in our pockets...how about some freedom to decide what I do with my money.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 21, 2014 at 05:01 PM
Carole, 99 percent of the people working minimum wage jobs are either working them as a second job or they are part of a larger family unit. The CBO has said that raising the minimum wage will lift most of these families, who are just below the poverty line, to above it, reducing their access to poverty safety nets. It could even take them off Medicare. Ron Unz, a SoCal billionaire, wants to raise the California minimum wage to do this exact thing. So, I'm not kidding. That's a real possibility.
Rodney Spooner February 21, 2014 at 05:56 PM
On the surface this will get those who make less than $10.10/hour all giddy. However, BB neglects to answer the one question that should be on everyone's lips...who will be paying for it? In the case of Mr. Obama writing an Executive Order to once again go around Congress and raise the minimum wage to federal workers it's the taxpayer that foots the bill. In the case of forcing private business to pay an increased minimum wage, the result will be for the owner to weigh the cost benefit. Will he be able to cover the cost by increasing production? The only way to increase production is through increased demand by consumers for his product. If the sales aren't there, he will more likely have to cut costs by reducing his employees. If he does that, more people will be laid off and increase demand on government welfare programs at additional cost to the taxpayers. Barbara Boxer needs to be held accountable and explain the "action-reaction" consequences of her recommendation. This is NOT the time to raise minimum wages. The Democrats have caused enough damage to the economy with the uncertainty of the cost and liabilities of Obamacare and the market needs to find its equilibrium. If they keep messing with rocking the economic boat it will continue to take on water until it capsizes.
Marc Parent February 21, 2014 at 09:32 PM
Dear Lou, The CBO also says that this will cost the economy 500,000 jobs. Further, Minimum wage people will need to spend more because the income they make will have to go to business that will need to increase pricing to cover the increase in the minimum wage. More fuzzy math and pulling factoids from the CBO while actually neglecting it, what the real motive is higher taxes, more money made the higher pecentage goes to Babs and team Obama to support the anemic recovery. This economic plan is the only thing I have seen that is "shovel ready", so please bury it. BTW Lou, its "ROLE" not "ROLL".
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 21, 2014 at 11:16 PM
Marc, I'm aware of he predicted job loss. Not aware of any predictions on higher taxes resulting from raising minimum wage. Would love to see it. Please pass it on. And thanks for the unwarranted hostility. I thought we were just having a conversation.
bruce k February 22, 2014 at 10:22 AM
> no matter how nice we want to be to low wage earners or how much you want their vote. When we raise the price of something, the demand for it drops. This is simply not true, except in a very simplistic model of elastic demand, it's more complicated than that. Prices at the local supermarket have been going up for years ... do you think people are buying less? There are a lot of factors here, and it does not make sense to have a class of people working for huge profitable American companies that pay virtually no taxes, send their profits to their shareholders which are not taxed, and then leaves the government and all the rest of us to pay for foodstamps, medical and other costs from them when they cannot make it. All things being equal, which of course they are not, there are enough desperate people in the world to ensure wages towards the lower ends of the economy are all skewed towards misery and unsustainability. Studies, not simple models show that raising minimum wage almost always helps expand demand and leads to growth, less crime and more prosperity, at a small cost. More money injected into the lower segments of the economy just has more of a multiplier effect than gambling and speculation or hoarding at the top.
bruce k February 22, 2014 at 10:26 AM
Barbara Boxer apparently said: "We owe it to our working families," Boxer said. "Nobody who works full-time should have to raise her children in poverty." While I agree with that statement, I have to wonder why people who cannot afford kids have them, this is the real problem, and for multiple real reasons we are no closer to confronting this reality and discussing it than we were ... ever before. It simply never happens. Just to be Devil's advocate, we could clean up a lot of problems if we paid taxes, and then subsidized women NOT to have children until they got an education, and a good job. Yeah, the payoff period would take a while and it would be unfair to men, and might not work in some cases, but it's worth thinking about and confronting our Malthusian dilemma with increasing population and pollution and scarcity of resources.
Marc Parent February 22, 2014 at 02:13 PM
Sorry Lou, Just wanted to be clear about the CBO report.
carole mason February 22, 2014 at 04:51 PM
The war on poverty let me see how's that working out. Seems to be getting worse maybe we need someone else in there instead of babs.
bruce k February 26, 2014 at 12:33 PM
The war on poverty was "lost" by design. For an interesting explanation why you might go to the PBS Fresh Air website and do a search for Sargent Shriver retrospective and listen to the story. What they were doing to help people and train them for jobs and businesses worked, but when party bosses started to see less people dependent on them, and money coming from channels they did not approve of they killed the program.

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