Ralph Nader Letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

March 5, 2014

Dear Speaker Boehner,

What will it take for you to bring a raise in the minimum wage to a vote?  A recent poll shows that 80% of Americans, including 62% of Republicans, support raising the minimum wage. Seven Nobel Laureate economists explained that a moderate increase in the minimum wage would “provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers” while having “little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers.” Conservatives Ron Unz, Peter Thiel and Phyllis Schlafly argue eloquently that a higher minimum wage will decrease public assistance spending. And yet, you still refuse to let “The People’s House” vote on this broadly popular, long-awaited and much-needed raise in the heavily lagging minimum wage.

Despite your lack of support for this long overdue restoration of the minimum wage to its peak purchasing power, I present the appeal of another constituency: six members of your own caucus. In July 2006, 26 Republican House members, including six current members of Congress, wrote you a letter urging you to schedule a vote on providing a “substantial increases in the minimum wage.” In the letter, they argued that the annual income of a minimum wage employee working full time — $10,700 per year — would leave a single parent with two children thousands of dollars below the federal poverty line.  They capped their argument with the strong and powerful statement: “Nobody working full time should have to live in poverty.”

Today, the poverty line for a single parent with two children is $19,790, which by 2016, adjusted for inflation, will be $20,633 per year, still thousands of dollars above the annual income of a minimum wage worker. The living wage for a single parent with two children in your home county of Butler County, Ohio is $22.41.  The least you can do to honor the heartfelt pronouncement of those brave Republicans — “Nobody working full time should have to live in poverty” — is allow a vote on a bill that restores the minimum wage to at least its purchasing power in 1968, which is equivalent to about $11 in today’s dollars. It would rectify the erosion of 33% of the purchasing power of the minimum wage due to inflation over the past 45 years.

Perhaps the six original signers of the letter supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage who are still members of Congress — Shelley Moore Capito (WV-02), Michael G. Fitzpatrick (PA-08), Peter T. King (NY-02), Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), Christopher H. Smith (NJ-04), and Fred Upton (MI-06) — would join with you in supporting this initiative. As you consider allowing a vote on raising the minimum wage, we hope you can take the time to contact them — The Minimum Wage Six — to understand what they meant when they penned the urgent declaration: “We believe it is time for Congress to take responsible action to raise the minimum wage and ensure our hard working constituents can provide for their families.”


Ralph Nader

P.O. Box 19312
Washington, D.C. 20036

Attached: Letter from 26 House Republicans to Majority Leader John Boehner, July 12, 2006

CC:    Rep. Shelley Moore Capito
Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick
Rep. Peter T. King
Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo
Rep. Christopher H. Smith
Rep. Fred Upton