30 June 2014

Increasing wealth and income inequality in the United States is the great moral and economic issue of our time. It speaks to whether we will be a nation with a vibrant and growing middle class, or an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of incredibly wealthy families control our economic and political life.



In America today, the top 1% owns 38% of our country's financial wealth. The bottom 60% owns all of 2.3%. In the last several years, 95% of all new income has gone to the top 1%. Sadly, we recently learned that in 2012 the top 40 hedge fund managers in the country earned $16.7 billion dollars, as much as 300,000 public school teachers combined -- almost a third of all high school teachers in America. How's that for national priorities!



In recent months, world leaders from the president to the pope have been speaking out on this long ignored, but critical issue. Several months ago a number of us in the Senate and House urged President Obama to issue an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Recently, the president did just that. I applaud him for taking this important step forward. But much more needs to be done.



Within the next several weeks Democrats in the Senate will be bringing forth legislation to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. If this effort succeeds, 30 million Americans will be getting a long overdue pay raise. And, just last week, House Democrats indicated that they are preparing to undertake what is known as a discharge petition which would force a vote on the minimum wage in the Republican controlled House of Representatives.



Momentum is on our side. Now is the time for Congress to act!



Please join me and Democracy for America in calling on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.



Currently, powerful forces in the Republican Party, under the influence of the Koch brothers and other billionaire families, continue to call for major cuts in programs desperately needed by working families. While the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, these billionaires are waging a relentless fight to cut nutrition programs, education, health care and more.



Incredibly, instead of supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, they want to end the concept of the minimum wage -- and create a situation where workers in high-unemployment areas could be forced to work for $3 or $4 an hour. For them, "freedom" means that desperate people are "free" to work for starvation wages.



Working together, our job is to create an economy and a government that works for working families and the most vulnerable Americans, and not just Wall Street and multi-national corporations. And Congress should begin by raising the minimum wage!



Please stand with me and Democracy for America today in demanding that Congress increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour!



Thank you for all that you do