I think it is safe to say that the minimum wage is going to be an issue in 2006, as Democrats try to put forward policy positions that are more substantial than ‘Bush SUXOR’:
Despite Congressional refusal for almost a decade to raise the federal minimum wage, nearly half of the civilian labor force lives in states where the pay is higher than the rate set by the federal government.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have acted on their own to set minimum wages that exceed the $5.15 an hour rate set by the federal government, and this year lawmakers in dozens of the remaining states will debate raising the minimum wage. Some states that already have a higher minimum wage than the federal rate will be debating further increases and adjustments for inflation.
The last time the federal minimum wage was raised was in 1997 – when it was increased from $4.75 an hour. Since then, efforts in Congress to increase the amount have been stymied largely by Republican lawmakers and business groups who argued that a higher minimum wage would drive away jobs.
Thwarted by Congress, labor unions and community groups have increasingly focused their efforts at raising the minimum wage on the states, where the issue has received more attention than in Republican-dominated Washington, said Bill Samuel, the legislative director of the national A.F.L.-C.I.O.
Opinion polls show wide public support for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which falls far short of the income needed to place a family at the federal poverty level. Even the chairman of Wal-Mart has endorsed an increase, saying that a worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford to shop at his stores.
The article goe on to provide the arguments for and against raising the minimum wage, which was of marginal interest to me. More interestiung is that we are beginning to see the Democrats come up with policy positions, as SusanG was discussing the minimum wage as an election year tool several days ago.