Skip to main content

Why GOP should support raising minimum wage

By Andrea Purse
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1602 GMT (0002 HKT)
A poll says most women support raising the minimum wage.
A poll says most women support raising the minimum wage.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama recently urged Congress to raise the national minimum wage
  • Andrea Purse: GOP should support this issue, especially if it wants to attract female voters
  • She says raising minimum wage to $10.10 would save $46 billion from the federal coffers
  • Purse: Republicans need to see women as breadwinners and drivers of economic growth

Editor's note: Andrea Purse is the vice president of communications at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a progressive public policy organization.

(CNN) -- President Obama recently gave a speech urging Congress to raise the minimum wage and announced on Wednesday plans to require employers to pay overtime to more salaried employers. The President is certainly doing the right thing for the American public, especially women.

A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University shows that women are huge fans of raising the national minimum wage. Seventy-six percent of women and 65% of men surveyed support it.

Minimum wage is poised to be a driving issue this year. Given how it polls among women, Republicans should seize the chance to enact good policy and good politics with a group of voters they've been alienating.

Andrea Purse
Andrea Purse

According to a CNN/ORC International Poll, 55% of Americans say the GOP doesn't understand women. That number rises to 59% among all women and 64% among women older than 50.

The 2012 election might have been one of the most embarrassing in recent memory for Republicans, who insulted female voters time and again and seemed tone deaf about the challenges that women face. The result is that women ran from the GOP in droves.

The bad news for Republicans is that this voting trend won't change overnight, not as the "party of family values" continues to reject any ounce of family-friendly policy that might help women and their families grow and thrive.

The GOP's policies don't just harken back to the "Mad Men" era; Fred Flintstone could be their architect. They don't really consider women as the powerful economic agents they are.

In large numbers, both House and Senate Republicans voted against restoring the rights of women to challenge fair pay practices when they were curtailed by the Supreme Court. Republicans also blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would provide more effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for doing equal work. Equal pay would not only help the families who depend on female breadwinners, but it would also be a boon for the overall economy by adding $447.6 billion to the GDP.

Failing to raise the minimum wage might be a boondoggle for the current set of Republican lawmakers, in that almost two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women, and women care about this issue deeply.

There should be a lot for conservatives to like in raising the minimum wage. Raising the wage to $10.10 would save $46 billion from the federal coffers in food assistance, an area where Republicans have said they want to find significant savings. That is real savings for those who claim to care about deficits: $4.6 billion in the first year alone.

Republicans would be smart to leave behind minimum wage deniers like Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who have expressed the view that they don't even think we need a minimum wage. These views are out of the mainstream of the American public and threaten to return the American workforce to the dark ages of employee abuse and mistreatment.

The women who earn the minimum wage are not teenagers working the counter at McDonalds; they are caregivers, child care workers and retail workers. Nearly 80% of women who earned at or below the minimum wage in 2012 were 20 years old or older, and just less than 40% were 30 years old or older.

Oftentimes, these are women who are the breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their entire families, so adding to their wages could potentially give them additional buying power, which can help lift the economy overall.

Instead of agreeing to a media friendly set of promises to try harder to court female candidates, and finding the right female elected members to be the outward face of the party, women want Republicans to dig a little deeper to find the real solutions that would make their lives better.

This isn't about using the right buzzwords to not insult women, their bodies, or their place in the family. What would really matter is if Republicans advocated for women where it counts: as breadwinners and drivers of our economic growth.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Andrea Purse.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT