Tom Steyer vows to raise minimum wage to $22 per hour if elected

Progressive candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have released competing plans to hike the minimum wage to $15 per hour

Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer vowed to call for a $22 hourly minimum wage if he wins his longshot bid to unseat incumbent President Trump in November.

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Steyer, a billionaire who founded investment company Farallon Capital Management in 1986 and sold it in 2012, is campaigning heavily on addressing climate change.

He made the announcement during a campaign block party on Sunday while campaigning in South Carolina, according to The Associated Press. Progressive candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have released competing plans to hike the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

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The federal minimum wage rate has remained at $7.25 per hour for the past decade, though 29 states and Washington have set it higher. (At the beginning of January, more than 20 states raised base pay even higher). The annual earnings for a full-time minimum-wage worker are $15,080, which is slightly above the federal poverty line for one person.

According to a Congressional Budget Office report published in July 2019, increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour could result in 1.3 million workers losing their jobs. (The report estimated there’s about a two-thirds chance that somewhere between zero and 3.7 million workers would lose their jobs).

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It could also have negative consequences for small businesses, which tend to operate in more competitive markets with thin margins.

“A higher minimum wage reduces the family income of business owners to the extent that firms’ profits are reduced,” the CBO report said. “Real income is also reduced for nearly all people because increases in the prices of goods and services weaken families’ purchasing power. Over time, as businesses increasingly pass their higher costs on to consumers, the losses in business income diminish and the losses in families’ real income grow.”

Over the past seven months, Steyer has poured $14 million into blanketing South Carolina’s airwaves with ads -- a strategy that’s beginning to take hold. According to the RealClearPolitics voting averages, Steyer is polling second in the state, behind only former Vice President Joe Biden. Sanders is a close third.

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