Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gop Stance on Wage Irks Working Widow

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gop Stance on Wage Irks Working Widow

Article excerpt

BARBARA A. IS HAVING second thoughts about her votes in November for the "Republican revolution."

Back in November, Barbara voted for John Ashcroft for senator and Jim Talent for Congress. She was thrilled election night when she learned that Republicans had taken over the House and the Senate.

"I was tired of the same old thing," Barbara said. "Lots of promises, nothing getting done. The Democrats fighting the Republicans. The Republicans fighting the Democrats. I figured, `Let's give the Republicans a chance. They can't do any worse.' "

But now she's wondering. The issues are starting to hit home. And Barbara's afraid the hitting's being done below the belt.

Barbara is a clerical worker for a parochial school. The job pays $4.25 an hour - minimum wage. It's not much, she realizes - her annual salary is below the poverty level - but it's a job and it pays the bills. A proud woman, she says she'd never even consider going on welfare.

Barbara likes her job because it's close to her home. On nice days, she can walk to work and save gasoline. She also enjoys her job because she gets to see kids each day.

But Barbara also laments that her job doesn't pay more. A widow in her late 20s, Barbara has difficulty getting by from payday to payday. When her husband was alive, the two of them were able to scrape up enough money to get by. But he died last year of cancer, and life's not easy without him. She's trying to save up so she can return to school, but it seems the harder she tries, the harder it gets.

That's why Barbara's puzzled by the Republican opposition to President Bill Clinton's proposal to raise the minimum wage by 90 cents an hour over two years.

"I'm working," she said. "I'm not taking handouts. I'm not on welfare. I'm trying to get by. So I can't understand why these politicians don't want me to get 90 more cents for what I do. The Republicans promised to be for the average person."

It is bewildering, frankly.

A majority of the Republicans in Congress are against increasing the minimum wage - this time. There wasn't such opposition by Republicans to an increase in the minimum wage the last time it was proposed in 1990 by Republican President George Bush. …

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