THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE SPEAKER AND DEMOCRATIC LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE MAJORITY AND DEMOCRATIC LEADERS OF THE SENATE
March 7, 2000
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. Leader:)
I am writing this letter to strongly encourage Congress to pass clean, straightforward legislation to raise the minimum wage by $1 -- from $5.15 to $6.15 -- in two equal steps. Working families across this country deserve an increase that simply restores the real value of the minimum wage to what it was in 1982.
Those who argue this modest pay raise would harm the economy could not be more wrong. Since 1996, when I worked with Congress to raise the minimum wage by 90 cents over 2 years, the unemployment rate has fallen from 5.2 percent to 4.1 percent -- near the lowest level in 30 years, more than 10 million new jobs have been created, and economic growth has averaged 4.3 percent.
Despite this overwhelming evidence, some in Congress are insisting on a lengthier 3-year increase in the minimum wage -- a delay that would cost a full-time, year-round worker more than $900 over 2 years. Others have chosen to use the minimum wage increase as a vehicle to repeal important overtime protections for American workers. And finally, some are using this minimum wage increase to pass irresponsible tax cuts that would threaten our fiscal discipline and jeopardize our ability to extend the life of Medicare and Social Security and pay down the debt by 2013.
Let me be clear -- this is the wrong approach. I will veto any legislation that holds this minimum wage increase hostage to provisions that delay this overdue pay raise or jeopardize our ability to strengthen Social Security and Medicare and pay down the debt by 2013 for future generations.
All Americans should be able to share in our current economic prosperity. For a full-time worker at the minimum wage, this increase would provide a $2,000 annual raise -- enough for a family of four to buy groceries for 7 months or pay rent for 5 months. More than 10 million workers would benefit from this proposal, the majority of them women. Congress should do the right thing and give these workers a raise.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
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