The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 13, 2014

Higher min. wage to help close the gap

We can no longer afford the 1 percenters. There are two obvious steps we can take to lessen the income gap between the rich and the poor and help sustain the economy at the same time.

More than half of the fast-food workers in the nation are paid so poorly they must rely on Medicaid or SNAP (food stamps}. This means taxpayers are paying for $7 billion a year in social welfare subsidies to a restaurant industry that made $683 million in profits last year. Instead of cutting welfare payments as Republicans would do, we can raise the minimum wage enough over time to reduce or eliminate worker dependence on welfare.

When Congress capped tax-deductible corporate salaries at $1 million per executive during the Clinton Administration, it created a loophole regarding performance-based pay. The CEOs of the National Restaurant Associates’ 20 largest members were paid $662 million in fully deductible performance pay in the last two years, saving those corporations $232 million in federal taxes.

The overwhelming majority of low-wage workers are adults and contribute a crucial part of the household income. According to the Economic Policy Institute, more than one fourth of the workforce earn less than $10.55 an hour.

Minimum wage workers must work on average 2.6 full-time jobs to afford a two-bedroom apartment without paying more than 30 percent of their income. Minnesota minimum wage earners must work 91 hours a week for a two-bedroom apartment.

Closing the performance pay tax loophole and raising the federal minimum wage sufficiently will never happen without a Democratic Congress and overwhelming public demand.

Let your voice be heard and vote responsibly.

Don Strasser

Mankato

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