Bold Proposal: California Rep. Barbara Lee Pushes for Six-Figure Income for Minimum-Wage Workers

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  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 10/10/2023
During a Democratic Senate candidate forum, California Rep. Barbara Lee put forth a proposal suggesting that minimum-wage workers in the United States should receive a six-figure income. This idea was presented by Lee as a means to highlight the differences between herself and her opponents in a closely contested race.

In the race for the seat previously held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Ms. Lee is one of the Democratic candidates, along with Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Katie Porter. Ms. Lee has expressed her belief that the federal minimum wage should be set at $50 per hour, which would amount to an annual income of $104,000.

The current federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 per hour, which translates to an annual income of approximately $15,000. California has one of the highest minimum wages in the United States, currently set at $15.50 per hour or approximately $32,200 per year. However, it is important to note that this minimum wage is set to increase to $16 per hour in the coming year. Starting next year, the state will be implementing an increase in the hourly minimum wage for fast food workers to $20. This translates to an annual salary of $41,600.


According to Mr. Schiff, the federal minimum wage, which has remained unchanged since 2009, ought to be raised to $25 per hour. According to Ms. Porter, the minimum wage is set at $20 at the federal level and $25 in California. Additionally, she mentioned that there are automatic increases in place to ensure that the minimum wage keeps up with the inflation rate.

The campaign of Ms. Lee did not provide a response to a request for comment or clarification regarding the seriousness of her $50 proposal. This proposal has raised concerns about its potential to worsen inflation.  

The audience responded to her reply with a combination of laughter and applause. The occurrence took place subsequent to a forum moderator's request for a precise monetary value, which was prompted by the candidates' extended responses.

The federal rate, which refers to the minimum wage set by the government, has garnered support from all three candidates. They have endorsed a specific legislation proposed by Democratic Representative Bobby Scott from Virginia. This legislation aims to gradually increase the federal rate to $17 per hour by the year 2028.

According to Mr. Schiff, the current level of sufficiency in most parts of the country is not satisfactory, and he believes it should be increased even further. The provision of a livable wage is necessary for the well-being of individuals. A livable wage is more than just a minimum wage; it enables individuals to support themselves and secure housing.

According to Ms. Lee, an hourly wage ranging from $17 to $20 should be considered as the minimum standard, while $25 per hour is regarded as the absolute minimum.

Ms. Lee expressed her strong disapproval, stating that such behavior is deemed unacceptable not only in the United States of America as a whole, but particularly within the state of California. In order to address the issue of limited wages, it is necessary to consider the role of the federal government in ensuring the availability of affordable housing. If the proposed hourly wage is restricted to $25 or $30, it becomes imperative to establish mechanisms that can support individuals in accessing affordable housing options.

According to Ms. Porter, she often highlights corporate profits and greed as the central factors contributing to the economic challenges faced by Americans. She argues that Washington consistently prioritizes the concerns of large corporations over those of workers and families.

The speaker expressed her desire to establish a direct link between the minimum wage and inflation. The speaker expresses concern about the financial burden placed on workers who are constantly trying to compensate for the shortcomings of the government. They emphasize the need for Washington to take responsibility for revitalizing the economy and ensuring that workers receive fair compensation for their contributions.

According to recent polls, a significant number of likely primary voters have not yet made up their minds on which candidate to support. However, the polls indicate that Mr. Schiff and Ms. Porter are currently in the lead, with both candidates holding a substantial advantage over Ms. Lee, with a difference of more than ten percentage points.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Berkeley Institute of Government Studies, the results indicated that Mr. Schiff was leading with a support of 20%. Following him closely was Ms. Porter with 17% of the respondents favoring her. Ms. Lee garnered a support of 7%, while a significant portion of the participants, 34%, remained undecided. These findings were published last month.

In California, the electoral process for federal office primaries operates under a unique system. Unlike in many other states, where the top candidate from each political party advances to the general election, California employs a different approach. Here, the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes in the primaries, irrespective of their party affiliation, progress to the general election.


This distinctive method ensures that the final election includes the two most popular candidates, regardless of their party affiliation, thereby promoting a more diverse and competitive political landscape. According to the Berkeley poll, the top two Republican candidates, James Bradley and Eric Early, either tied or slightly outperformed Ms. Lee. James Bradley secured 10% of the votes, while Eric Early received 7%.

California Democratic Sen. Laphonza Butler, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to serve the remainder of Feinstein‘s term, did not participate in the Democratic candidate forum. She has not said publicly whether she’ll seek to run for a full term in November 2024.


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