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
December 27, 2014 -- Updated 0127 GMT (0927 HKT)
The ability to manipulate media and technology has increasingly become a critical strategic resource, says Jeff Yang.
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
Today's politicians should follow Ronald Reagan's advice and invest in science, research and development, Fareed Zakaria says.
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Artificial intelligence does not need to be malevolent to be catastrophically dangerous to humanity, writes Greg Scoblete.
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Historian Douglas Brinkley says a showing of Sony's film in Austin helped keep the city weird -- and spotlighted the heroes who stood up for free expression
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Tanya Odom that by calling only on women at his press conference, the President made clear why women and people of color should be more visible in boardrooms and conferences
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
When oil spills happen, researchers are faced with the difficult choice of whether to use chemical dispersants, authors say
December 25, 2014 -- Updated 0633 GMT (1433 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2312 GMT (0712 HKT)
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0335 GMT (1135 HKT)
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2115 GMT (0515 HKT)
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1811 GMT (0211 HKT)
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2239 GMT (0639 HKT)
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2345 GMT (0745 HKT)
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2134 GMT (0534 HKT)
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
ADVERTISEMENT