Wyden Statement on Minimum Wage “Plan B”

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today released the following statement on his ‘plan B’ to raise the minimum wage: 

“The American people elected Democrats to get things done, and they aren’t going to accept ‘process’ as an excuse for failing to deliver on an overwhelmingly popular policy. If you’re a single mom working two jobs for $7.25 an hour in Georgia or North Carolina, it is cold comfort to know that majority support for raising the minimum wage could be meaningless because of arcane Senate rules. We couldn’t get in the front door or the back door, so we’ll try to go through the window.

“As chair of the Finance Committee, I’ve been working on a ‘plan B’ that would make big companies pay for mistreating their workers. My plan would impose a 5 percent penalty on a big corporations’ total payroll if any workers earn less than a certain amount. That penalty would increase over time. It would also include safeguards to prevent companies from trying to outsource labor to avoid paying living wages. For example, if a profitable mega corporation like Walmart fires a store’s security guard and replaces him with a contractor who makes far less, my proposal would still require that Walmart pays a penalty.

“At the same time, I want to incentivize the smallest of small businesses—those with middle-class owners—to raise their workers’ wages. My plan would provide an income tax credit equal to 25 percent of wages, up to $10,000 per year per employer, to small businesses that pay their workers higher wages.

“While conversations are continuing, I believe this ‘plan B’ provides us a path to move forward and get this done through the reconciliation process. Workers have not gotten a federal pay raise in more than a decade. We can’t continue to have millions of workers—workers who are disproportionately, people of color, women and essential workers like fast food workers and home health aides—earning starvation wages.”