Senate Democrat Wants to Tax Corporations That Pay Low Wages

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth McDonough announced on Thursday that a federal minimum wage increase cannot be included in President Joe Biden’s American Recovery Act – which the upper chamber plans on passing in March through reconciliation – and Democrats are now challenged to find a new way to boost the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour.

Photo by Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has a novel solution – penalizing companies who pay poverty-level wages.

“I’m exploring a tax penalty for mega-corporations that refuse to pay a living wage. This isn’t over,” Wyden tweeted on Friday morning.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Mika Brzezinski asked correspondent Jake Sherman about what options Democrats have to give millions of American workers a long-overdue raise.

“A ruling in the Senate dealt a severe blow to Democrats who are pushing to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour in the next COVOD-19 relief package. Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth McDonough, the nonpartisan arbitrator of Senate rules, issued guidance saying she didn’t think the effort complied with guidelines of reconciliation, the fast track process that Democrats are using to go pass the bill,” said Brzezinski.

“Despite the parliamentarian’s decision, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] said lawmakers in the House would not remove the provision before the vote, which is set for later today. Jake Sherman, what does this all mean?” she asked.

Sherman explained:

Well it means there won’t be a $15 minimum wage in the immediate future. It means Nancy Pelosi’s move is smart on her behalf, because she has a caucus full of progressives who want to see this policy and dont much care that the Senate doesn’t want to pass it, they want to pass it and vote on it. It’s very popular in the Democratic caucus – has almost unanimous support. Number one. Number two, I just think as we pointed this out in Punchbowl News this morning, I think this becomes one of those legislative issues that seeps its way into literally every legislative debate from here on out. This is, the way Democrats see it, a widely and broadly popular provision. The minimum wage hasn’t been raised in some time and they’re gonna keep trying to find ways to do it.

It’s going to also lend credence and give new fuel to the movement to ‘blow up the filibuster,’ something that caught on on the left. It doesn’t have the votes at the moment. [Senators] Joe Manchin [D-WV] and Kyrsten Sinema [D-AZ] are against blowing up the filibuster, but let’s be clear, if there were no filibuster, Democrats could tomorrow raise the minimum wage to $11 or $12 or something in that range. I would just note this is not the end of the story. It’s just the beginning. For the broader COVID package, what does this mean?

Joe Biden wants to pass a $2 trillion bill by March 14th. That is, you know,  just a couple weeks away. A very, very steep hill to climb. They’re going to have to move quickly and they’re going to have to move efficiently and now that the $15 minimum wage is out, will they be able to pass this through the Senate? I think yes. To be determined, though. Now Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema have very few excuses to vote against this package.

Panelist Willie Geist asked how Democrats intend on selling Republicans on raising the minimum wage:

So Jake if you listen to his public comments the last month or so, it’s clear that President Biden even himself suspected that the $15 minimum wage wasn’t going to be in this package. so if they peel this off as a separate piece of legislation, you started to answer the question. But even with that, Republicans don’t like a lot of the other stuff that’s in the $1.9 trillion package. So how do they push this through? Do they get Manchin and Sinema on board just without the minimum wage and finally before that March 14th deadline and get this money out to people?


Yeah that’s exactly what they do, Willie. They move the package without the $15 minimum wage, and frankly, I think on the minimum wage provision, it is certainly possible to pass an increase of the minimum wage with Republican support. I just don’t think it will be at $15. Nancy Pelosi remembered yesterday, I think this is when you were in Congress, Joe. The minimum wage was increased in 2001, in early 2001, and [President] George [W.] Bush signed it. It got support on Capitol Hill from both parties.

I do think it’s possible to get this done. I don’t think it’s possible to do it at $15. So yes, Willie, the COVID package will likely pass and it will be almost strictly on a partisan basis. Important to remember every package in the Trump Administration tasked with bipartisan support. now in the Biden Administration, no bipartisan support. Down the road, a compromised minimum wage package could be in play. Not exactly sure how they will get that done. Perhaps it will happen in a later jobs package or even as a stand-alone.

Sherman predicted that “Nancy Pelosi will move a minimum wage package as a stand-alone in the coming weeks or months.”

Watch below, courtesy of Crooks and Liars:

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