Democrat Staci Appel — a candidate in Iowa’s third congressional district — says it’s time to raise the nation’s minimum wage.
“I think working families have gone without an increase in the minimum wage since 2009,” Appel says. “And, you know, 71 percent of Americans favor increasing the minimum wage.”
The national minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin is pushing his fellow senators to vote to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. Appel says Congressman Tom Latham — the Republican Appel hopes to face next November — should join Harkin’s effort.
“I think that he should join me in supporting it for the American people and the people of Iowa,” Appel says.
Appel served one term in the state senate and in 2007 she voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, which at the time was higher than the national minimum wage.
“My record of supporting raising the minimum wage is extremely important and I believe it was a clear choice of what to do at that time,” Appel says, “and I wish that we had been forward and raised it even further.”
Appel supports the concept of tying the minimum wage to a yearly inflation factor, like the annual “cost of living” adjustment for Social Security payments.
In 2007 Latham voted to raise the federal minimum wage to its current level, $7.25 an hour.
“With the highest most sustained unemployment rate since the Great Depression it is troubling that Senator Appel’s solution to get Americans working again is to mandate it from DC.” a spokesman for Latham’s campaign said in a written statement. “More mandates by a bigger government doesn’t create a single job in Des Moines, Council Bluffs Treynor or any town in Iowa.”
Critics say raising the minimum wage harms entry-level and part-time workers, especially teenagers, as businesses will cut back hours or lay off workers. President Obama has called for raising the national minimum wage. Earlier this summer, workers at fast food restaurants in a few U.S. cities staged protests, calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour. Twenty-one states — where about half the U.S. population lives — have passed laws raising state minimum wage rates above the nation’s.
Appel faces Gabriel De La Cerda in next June’s Democratic Primary in the fourth congressional district.
(This story was updated at 11:35 am with additional information.)