"We discussed the state of the economy. We discussed where our economy is headed. And we discussed the steps that we’re going to take to ensure that our economy continues to lead the world."One important step that Bush didn’t discuss in his speech was an increase in the minimum wage. This Sunday, Aug. 20, marks the 10-year anniversary of the 1996 minimum wage bill — the last time the minimum wage was increased.
Today, eight million Americans are still living on $5.15 an hour and the federal minimum wage is currently at its lowest level in 51 years. Since President Bush took office, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased by 5.4 million. (Unemployment and poverty rates fell after the 1996 legislation.)
The House hasn’t allowed a full floor vote on the minimum wage since the last increase went into effect. The Senate recently voted down a wage increase because it was tied, in a political ploy, to a cut in inheritance taxes on multimilllion-dollar estates.
The American economy can’t continue to lead if eight million people are left behind.