Letter from Ralph Nader to the House Freedom Caucus


Dear Representative

Over the past year, there have been significant advances in wages for working-class Americans. Many cities and states have increased their minimum wages providing millions of Americans with a long-overdue raise. In Congress, however, progress is nonexistent. Between party infighting, futile “Obamacare” repeal efforts and corporate lobbying, there has been too little focus on long-needed new policies and solutions for suffering Americans.


There has been much attention as of late on the influential, right-wing House Freedom Caucus, of which you are a member. It’s time for you and the other ideologically-driven, upper-income members of Congress to show some true gumption and get behind a winning issue that truly matters to working Americans.


You should follow through on your words about promoting “the prosperity of all Americans” instead of supporting a corporatist, anti-worker agenda. This year, the Freedom Caucus could reinvent their image as obstructionists by working to pass a meaningful increase in the minimum wage this year. It would be a defining statement for Congress to unite and act on a pressing issue that affects millions of workers whose frozen minimum wages have been gutted by inflation for many years.  Why, just adjusting it to inflation since 1968 would take it from $7.25 per hour to about $11 per hour. (Labor productivity has doubled during that period.)


Here are some facts about raising the minimum wage for you to consider:


  • You can’t survive on $7.25. A worker making the federal minimum earns approximately $15,000 gross a year. Far below the $24,000 poverty threshold for a family of four.
  • A higher minimum wage will lead to fewer people on welfare: A 2014 study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would lead to a savings of $7.6 billion annually in social welfare programs.
  • Raising the minimum wage is popular. According to a poll by Hart Research 75% of all Americans support a minimum wage hike. And a separate poll by the American Sustainable Business Council found that 61% of small business owners support raising the minimum wage.
  • Raising the minimum wage helps the economy. Studies show that raising the minimum wage to just $10.10 would have no adverse effect on the economy. In fact, EPI predicts a $32.6 billion stimulus effect annually.


It’s important to note that raising the minimum wage is not a “liberal” issue.  Outspoken conservative voices such as Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, conservative author Phyllis Schlafly, and presidential candidates Ben Carson, John Kasich and Rick Santorum support raising the minimum wage. Other supporters are Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Craig Jelinek, the CEO of retail giant Costco.


Representative, you and other members of the Freedom Caucus should move beyond your role as outspoken dissenters and take strides to help the people you supposedly represent. By supporting an increase in the minimum wage, you can claim a significant victory in fulfilling your stated purpose; to promote small businesses and reduce spending by the government. Paying a fair minimum wage is a left-right issue worth working on for all Americans.


Visit timeforaraise.org for more information.




Ralph Nader