Beyond resistance: Addressing income inequality & ensuring a living wage

August 6, 2017

Dear Friends,

It is the ninth day of my email series, “Beyond Resistance: The things we should do to make us safer, healthier, and more economically secure.” Today’s topic: addressing income inequality and ensuring a living wage.

It’s no secret that income inequality is a major issue plaguing America today. The richest 400 Americans have more money than the combined wealth of the bottom 61 percent of the country, more than 194 million people.

It is clear that we need to create a more equitable society, where every American earns a living wage for their honest work.

In 2016, nearly 48 million people earned an annual income of $15,000 or less. That’s barely enough to live on, and certainly not enough to support a family. Today’s federal minimum wage is just $7.25 an hour. It’s out of date with the modern economy, and it’s not keeping up with inflation. Raising the minimum wage would help lift American families out of poverty and encourage spending, investment, and economic growth. It’s promising to see individual cities and states – including Oregon – take steps to help workers, but Congress must act as well. That’s why I joined Reps. Keith Ellison and Bobby Scott to introduce the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage incrementally to $15 an hour by 2024.

People also need to be compensated fairly for overtime work. I support reducing the exceptions to overtime pay requirements in the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires businesses to pay workers time and a half if they work more than 40 hours in a week. But employees with a salary over $23,660 aren’t eligible for overtime pay, a figure that has not been adjusted for inflation or revisited since 2004. This needs to change.

Another way to lift living standards and worker’s pay is to increase and expand the earned income tax credit (EITC). This tax credit is targeted to increase the wages of the lowest income workers, particularly those with children. It is simple, effective, and has bipartisan support. It’s time to raise and expand the EITC, using the tax code to help people who deserve it most.

In addition to these steps, we must once and for all fix our broken tax code to ensure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes.

I welcome your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. You can connect with me here


Earl Blumenauer

Member of Congress