In 2014, Chris Coons voted to raise the Minimum Wage from $7.25 to $10.10 as a part of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act. A piece of legislation that he cosponsored and fervently defended.
“No Americans who work full time should have to live in poverty.”
“Every American deserves a fair shot at a living wage, and I’ll keep working with my colleagues to move this effort forward.”Chris Coons, Senator from Delaware in 2014 on the Minimum Wage Fairness Act
On March 5th, 2021, Coons voted against the $15 Minimum Wage in the COVID-19 Relief Bill. He simultaneously expresses his support for the $15 Minimum Wage while voting against it in Congress. He cites his concern for small businesses during COVID-19 as the reason for his hypocrisy but a deeper look at some number shows a confusing picture.
In the Minimum Wage Fairness Act proposed by Coons in 2014, the $10.10 wage would have gone into effect in 2017-2018, following three years of incremental growth. If that increase of $.95 a day remained steady, then America would be paying out a Minimum Wage of approximately $13.90 in 2021. A narrow $1.10 short of the $15 Minimum wage that he voted against.
The Minimum Wage Act that Coons opposed? A yearly growth of $1.50 until 2025 to reach the $15 Minimum Wage that has become a movement within the country and Democratic Party. A more rapid growth to make up for the disparities and divides that have grown wider with time and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Even though both policies would have had nearly identical results of a Minimum Wage of at least $15 by 2025, the moderate Democrats like Coons and Carper from Delaware or Joe Manchin from West Virginia stifled the efforts of their party.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona voted No in an exaggerated and dramatic fashion that drew criticism from the party and people in her state. She also has been on record for supporting an increased Minimum Wage to $15. Her reasoning for opposing the legislation was that it should be separate from the Covid relief bill. She also said she’s willing to work with both parties to access to good jobs, education, and economic security.
These Democrats say they are willing to work with their party to raise the Minimum Wage but not this time though. It’s either their way or no way. Even though this may have been the closest Democrats have gotten to raising the Federal Minimum Wage with a Democratic House and President Biden, it flopped due to a select few Senators.
Regardless of where one stands on the Minimum Wage debate, whether it should be raised, remain where it is, or be abolished altogether, this kind of behavior shows a problem within the duopoly and democratic system. Many of these votes and issues that will influence the lives of all Americans are shot down by a select few legislators who use their power to restrict the actions of their peers and rivals, regardless of how necessary it is to the populace. Whether that’s with the few Democrats siding with Republicans regarding the Minimum Wage or Republicans siding with Democrats for the Impeachment of Donald Trump, our electoral system was built on the stubbornness of legislators and the patience of the American people.
Americans have long deserved additional parties to represent them in Congress and to provide a perspective that is not limited to the hyper-partisanship of our current system. The Libertarian party represents a stance that would most likely side with Republicans on the issue of Minimum Wage while the Green Party would vote in favor of the raise. Then those two groups would break from the giants of the duopoly and suggest alternative approaches that the major parties refuse to acknowledge. This would allow Americans to see beyond the two parties and address the policies and their consequences with less regard for the partisan consequences.
But until then, we are bound to inconsistent Democrats and hypocritical Republicans.