It’s time to raise minimum wage | Rep. Chris Hurst

The following is written by Rep. Christopher Hurst, 31st District:

Too many people are working harder than ever, but they’re not seeing the benefits of the growing economy.

Housing prices keep increasing again. It used to be, you could work a summer job to save up enough money for a year of tuition. Those days are gone.

Gone also are the days when if you did a good job, you got a raise and a Christmas bonus.

Yet the economy is growing. It’s just that 90 percent of the benefits are going to a tiny percentage on top.

So how can we make our economy work for everyone, not just the wealthy few?

To find what works, first you have to rule out what doesn’t work.

Not in theory. I want to look at what’s been tried and shown to succeed or fail.

Austerity economics

This theory says when times are bad, the solution is to dramatically cut spending.

The trouble is that these cuts have hurt basics that citizens need: schools, colleges, health care and highways.

If you look at history, austerity only leads to more austerity.

Instead of endless cuts, FDR helped get us out of the Great Depression by putting millions of people to work building parks, colleges, dams and bridges. We’re using those things today.

Supply side “voodoo” economics

The fairy tale we’ve been sold for decades is simple: if you cut taxes for the super-rich, the job creators, they’ll hire a lot of people and the wealth will trickle down to the middle class.

In reality, voodoo economics only padded the pockets of the Donald Trumps of the world while pushing more of the tax burden on average families.

Here are the facts: the wealthiest 400 families and biggest corporate giants are sitting on trillions of dollars, much of it overseas. They aren’t spending it to create jobs.

It’s time we put a stake in the heart of voodoo economics, once and for all, because it’s only hurt America.

Middle-class economics

Listen to real economists, not politicians on television, and they’ll agree on certain basic facts:

• 70 percent of our economy is based on consumer spending.

• That spending comes from the middle class.

• If average families can’t buy washing machines, pickup trucks and homes, our economy crashes.

I say it’s time to give middle-class economics a shot.

We’ve given tax break after tax break to billionaires and they haven’t spent it to stimulate the economy. The jobs don’t trickle down. It’s a fantasy, because people who already own five mansions and a fleet of cars don’t have an urgent need to buy more things. They’re just as likely to stash that money in stocks or overseas, tax-free accounts.

Put more money into the pockets of the middle class, though, and they’ll spend it locally.

That’s why I’m supporting ideas that will grow our economy and give hard-working people a better shot at the American Dream.

Nobody who works full-time should be in poverty or getting food stamps. A higher minimum wage means taxpayers don’t have to spend as much on those things because people can stand on their own two feet.

After years of neglect, our country is falling apart. We need to put people back to work building things. Highways and bridges, schools and parks. For too long, politicians have delayed transportation and construction projects.

There are still too many men and women in hard hats who are out of work. Putting them back on the job will not only create jobs and help our local economy, it will build a better Washington for our kids and grandkids.

Finally, it’s time to raise our minimum wage to $12 an hour and give people time off from work when they are sick.  Both of these measures have passed out of the House of Representatives and I am proud to have voted for them.  Unfortunately, these important bills that help hard-working Americans are stuck in the Senate. You should call your senator and find out why.

This won’t be easy. But nothing worth doing is easy.

Let’s breathe new life into the idea that the American Dream should be within reach of anybody who’s willing to study hard, work hard and follow the rules.

Rep. Christopher Hurst (Independent Democrat-Enumclaw) is a veteran 25-year police detective and commander of a 15-city Homicide/Violent Crimes Task Force. In the House, he is chairman of the Commerce and Gaming Committee.