WASHINGTON – Unless you tuned out Donald Trump on his final frenetic campaign blitz, you remember seeing him barnstorming across Florida, stoking the fears of Latino voters with his nightmare threat that Joe Biden & Company would “turn America into Communist Cuba or Socialist Venezuela.”
Fearmongering pure and simple, but it worked with a big slice of south Florida’s Latino voters, enough for Trump to shrink the normal Democratic majority in heavily Latino Miami and go on to carry Florida, the one big swing state that Trump actually won.
But what is fascinating and telling – especially given Trump’s scary rap against big government – is that close to a million of those same Florida voters rejected Trump’s pro-business economics and voted to amend the Florida constitution to establish a $15 state minimum wage.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s political allies in the Florida Chamber of Commerce fought bitterly against this measure. Chamber President Mark Wilson warned that mandating steady increases in the state’s minimum wage over the next six years would cause “job loss, hurt local businesses, increase the cost of living for seniors, and drive good jobs elsewhere.”
But a 61% supermajority rejected the self-pleading by restaurant owners and other businesses. In the end, nearly 6.4 million Florida voters — a far bigger majority than Trump’s own majority – supported taking a bold step against income inequality by voting to boost Florida’s current wage floor of $8.56 an hour to $10 next Sept 30, and then add a dollar per year to the hourly minimum until it hits $15 in 2026. After that, the plan calls for an automatic annual cost of living increase.
Pushing for greater economic fairness
One interesting wrinkle is that while the Florida pay hike was of course promoted by organized labor, its chief backer and instigator was an Orlando businessman and attorney named John Morgan, who bankrolled the campaign with more than $5 million of his own money. Why? Because Morgan is convinced that states must take action now to reduce america’s lopsided income inequality and to promote greater economic fairness, for the modern capitalist system to survive.
“What I personally believe the unrest in America is really all about, whether you’re a Bernie bro or a Trump supporter in the Midwest — it’s about income inequality,” says Morgan. “Every great society can crumble because the haves have too much and the have-nots don’t have enough.”
The Florida mandate will in fact reduce the inequality gulf, according to a progressive Florida think tank, the Florida Institute. Its experts calculate that the newly mandated minimum wage increases will bring a rise in pay and living standards for about one-quarter of Florida’s workforce, about 2.5 million people, and it will also help reduce racial and gender pay disparities.
Rallying cry – “The fight for $15” Read more