Vice President Joe Biden bashed Republicans Saturday for not addressing income inequality, while urging fellow Democrats to keep pushing for policies like the $15 minimum wage.
Biden argued at the California Democrats State Convention that income inequality is one of the biggest issues facing the country. He urged Democrats to keep fighting the problem while criticizing Republicans for not doing more to address poverty. He also bashed the GOP for forgetting the lessons on poverty the country learned during the 2007 recession.
“They may have forgotten, but I haven’t forgotten. I remember,” Biden declared, according to The Associated Press. “I remember well the mess the president and I inherited the moment we took our hands off the Bible on that cold January day.”
Biden mentioned raising the $15 minimum wage as one policy that could help lower-income individuals. Critics, however, have warned the policy could actually hurt the poor by limiting job opportunities. Biden also advocated for reforming the income tax and putting more regulations on how business owners are compensated.
“Tell me we can’t afford to grow the middle class,” Biden continued. “Tell me we can’t afford to increase education. Tell me we can’t afford to take the burden off hardworking mothers and fathers. Tell me that that’s what we can’t do. We can afford that and so much more and still cut the deficit.”
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Democratic lawmakers and labor unions have made the $15 minimum wage effort an important campaign issue. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has even made the policy a main part of his platform, while the union-backed Fight for $15 movement has been at the forefront of the grassroots push.
The $15 minimum wage is historically unprecedented even when adjusted for inflation. No one can know for sure what the economic impact will be if implemented, but previous minimum wage increases show it can limit job opportunities. Business owners may have trouble overcoming the added cost of labor and be forced to cutback on number of employees or raise prices.
There are still some Democrats who oppose the $15 minimum wage out of concern it might cause economic harm. Even President Barack Obama has advocated for the $10.10 minimum wage, while California Gov. Jerry Brown opposes the $15 wage policy out of concern it could harm the state economy.
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