Remarks by Lucy Edwards, President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans, at the press conference with AFSCME, NH Citizens Alliance for Action and others to hold United States Senator Kelly Ayotte accountable for her lack of accountability to NH Voters. Ayotte does not see the need to vote to raise the minimum wage even though there is proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that families cannot survive on minimum wage earnings. Food and empty gas can represent what little a head of household earning min wage can afford for their family.
Recently some of our members received a letter from Senator Ayotte in response to requests for her to consider voting to raise Social Security benefits. Her reply was so incredibly tone deaf that we have to conclude that she is simply not listening. Besides referring to Social Security and Medicare as “entitlements” - they are earned benefits, Senator! - the next sentence was about the national debt! And then, of course, how we must “reform” our senior safety net by cutting benefits.
So what does this have to do with the minimum wage? Once you understand that the Social Security benefit is calculated on lifetime earnings, and that the Trust Fund is funded from current earnings, you can immediately see that if a person makes more money, not only do their benefits on retirement increase, but the amount they pay into the Social Security Trust Fund increases today. Raising the Federal minimum wage, passing the Paycheck Equity legislation through Congress, and funding projects that create jobs all bring immediate returns to the Trust Fund, extending its ability to pay full benefits into the future. All of these initiatives, which the Republicans in Congress are obstructing, would increase the standard of living for working families today and when they retire. The only solutions Senator Ayotte can see to our financial problems are cuts to earned benefits. She has made it clear that getting rid of subsidies to industries that are already obscenely profitable or raising taxes on the 1% are off the table as ways to close the debt gap. Senator Ayotte has blinders on.
Raising the minimum wage is a no-brainer in so many ways! Our local businesses suffer from lack of customer demand, because potential customers often don’t have the income to buy much more than the necessities. Somehow Senators like Ayotte have been so blinded by trickle-down economics, a much debunked economic theory, that they forget that the phrase in Economics 101 is “supply AND demand.” Better incomes lead to a better standard of living, and better health, reducing health care costs. Better incomes lead to better funding for schools, leading to more educated young people who will again have better jobs and even start their own businesses. We could go on and on. Raising the minimum wage, and other policies that support working families, are a positive feedback economic engine. And they’re good for Social Security too!