Democratic Rep Ineffectively Argues for $50/hour Wage Increase

( – Democratic California Rep. Barbara Lee attempted to advocate for raising the federal minimum wage to $50 per hour during a Feb. 12 debate featuring the candidates running for the California Senate seat previously held by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Lee’s proposal of a $50 minimum wage, which is more than six times the current federal rate, means that minimum wage workers would earn $104,000 annually. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25. However, in some states, such as California, the minimum wage is $16 per hour. In April, the minimum wage for fast-food employees in the state will increase to $20 per hour.

When asked during the debate how such a large increase could be sustained, Lee defended her plan, arguing that areas such as California require such an increase due to the cost of living. She said she needs to focus on what California needs for a minimum wage, and $20 is not enough. Lee said that the cost of living in the state means people can barely get by if they live in California and make less than $100,000 annually, adding, “Just do the math!” She cited a report from the United Way that said a family of four in the Bay area of California could barely get by on $127,000 annually, and another report that cited $104,000 was not enough for one person to get by in California.

When asked how her proposal would be sustainable for small businesses, Lee replied by emphasizing that it is important to provide employees with a “living wage” to ensure their well-being.

Lee currently represents California’s 12th District, which includes Oakland and Berkeley. She is running for the Senate seat against Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff, Democratic California Rep. Katie Porter, and Republican Steve Garvey. Schiff and Porter have said the minimum wage should be increased to $20-$25 per hour, while Garvey has stated there should not be an increase.

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