|Rep. Barbara Lee|
“In California, more than likely, from what I remember, a living wage – where people could live and take care of their families, and move toward achieving the American Dream was about $25, $26 an hour," Lee offered. When Crossfire host, Newt Gingrich, pressed her on the specific number, Lee agreed.
“Trust me, believe you me, you would have a more productive workforce," said Lee. "You would have people who could afford to live in areas now where they cannot afford to live. You could increase diversity in certain communities where you don’t have diversity, you would have economic parity.”
Lee's comments ignited a firestorm in the conservative media, with many right-leaning sites skewering the idea as certain to kill jobs. Meanwhile, the local Bay Area press and liberal megaphones have ignored the statement, which came on the heels of Seattle approving the highest in the nation $15 minimum wage ordinance to be phased in over the next seven years.
In Oakland, a potential city referendum to raise the minimum wage to $12.25 is likely to be on the November ballot. The new progressive epicenter of the East Bay, Richmond, is also looking to significantly raise its minimum wage, in addition, to murmurs in other cities like Hayward. Meanwhile, the state minimum wage is due to increase to $9 an hour this July.