Who Gets a Pay Raise?

| Fri May 20, 2005 4:10 PM EDT

We live in a country where appeals to "save the children" don't, apparently, have any effect. John Kerry's health-care plan would have ended our long national scandal of millions of uninsured children? Big deal! 12.9 million children live in poverty? Must be their fault! And so on. So I'm not entirely convinced that a new study, showing that raising the minimum wage would benefit 9.7 million children, will have any effect, but here it is.

Speaking of minimum wage, I was hopping around Google the other day and came across this stunning sentence by Holly Sklar: "Congress has had seven pay raises since 1997, when the minimum wage increased to $5.15, while approving none since then for minimum wage workers." Sklar suggests that we tie any increases in congressional salaries to hikes in the minimum wage. Not bad, not bad at all. The downside is that I actually think members of Congress should be paid much more than they are now: it would attract better talent, make them less corruptible, and discourage the sort of hopping from Congress to lucrative lobbyist positions that we see so often nowadays. The other downside is that Congressional pay increases are linked to pay increases for judges and other civil servants in the executive branch. Nevertheless, Holly Sklar has the right general idea. The minimum wage needs raising, and something needs to get Congress' attention.