Our Opinion: Fighting for a raise

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’America deserves a raise," declared President Obama on Labor Day, and happily, Massachusetts’ lowest paid workers have already received one through a hike in the minimum wage courtesy of Beacon Hill. It is unlikely to happen in Washington, where the needs of struggling workers are overshadowed by the wants of profitable corporations.

The president made his pitch for an increase in the federal minimum wage at a festival hosted in Milwaukee every Labor Day by the AFL-CIO. Mr. Obama observed that the 13 states including Massachusetts that have boosted the minimum wage this year have all seen job growth, countering claims that the hikes would have the opposite effect. The argument that hiking the minimum wage to a true living wage would cost jobs and stall the economy are not only wrong they have always been wrong whenever an increase has been proposed. Yet those claims, like the canard that cutting the taxes of the wealthy will boost the economy, live on though consistently disproven.

On Thursday, fast-food workers in major cities across the nation, including Boston, are expected to resume their strikes in demand for higher wages. The strikes come in the context of Burger King taking advantage of the "tax inversion" loophole in the U.S. tax code to switch its tax jurisdiction to Canada, where the corporate tax rate is lower. Its purchase of the Canadian Tim Horton’s chain precipitated the move by Burger King, triggering calls in Washington to close the loophole.

The fast-food workers are expected to be joined in their protest by home-care aides, workers who are hugely underpaid for difficult jobs that improve the lives of the sick and elderly. It’s to America’s shame that the disparity between rich and poor grows ever wider, the middle class becomes increasingly strapped financially, and struggling low-wage workers must work two or three jobs while major corporations worm through loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. It’s a greater shame that one political party is so invested in protecting this status quo.


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