Vice President Biden hails Maine minimum wage referendum as sign of economic progress

Vice President Biden hails Maine minimum wage referendum as sign of economic progress

In this week’s White House address, Vice President Joe Biden cites the passage of the minimum wage increase referendum in Maine and similar ballot measures in three other states, all of which passed with large margins, as important steps towards building the middle class and restoring “the basic bargain” of the American economy.

“It matters. It really matters—because no one in America should work 40 hours a week and still live in poverty,” said Biden. “Since the President’s call to action to increase the nation’s minimum wage back in 2013, every state from my state of Delaware and 18 others—and 55 cities—have raised their own minimum wage. From Alaska to California, Nebraska to Florida—workers now have a shot at a paycheck they can actually live on.”

Biden and President Barack Obama support a federal minimum wage increase nearly identical to the new Maine law, including raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 and gradually raising and eventually phasing out the subminimum wage for service workers who receive tips.

“Phasing out the tipped minimum wage is a no-brainer − allowing tipped workers to earn a fair wage, just like their non-tipped counterparts − without relying on the whims of customers or a complicated scheme to ensure they’re paid what they’re due,” said the administration in a June release. “It would put more money in their pockets, raise many out of poverty and reduce their need for public benefits.”

With the change in administration in January and continued Republican control of Congress, current White House plans for raising the federal minimum wage will be on hold for the foreseeable future. Any progress on the minimum wage will likely continue to come from states and cities acting on their own.

“It’s not just for the workers who benefit—they’re not the only ones. The economy benefits—the overall economy,” said Biden. “Companies benefit from higher productivity and less turnover. Communities benefit when people have more money to spend at local stores, the diner, the movie theater. The entire economy grows.”

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