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What is your position on raising the minimum wage?

Charles Taylor: My opponent has made numerous allegations about my record on the federal minimum wage, but the fact is that I have supported — and will continue to support — a fair federal minimum wage.

On July 28th of this year I voted “yes” on the Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act, a bill that would increase the minimum wage by $2 an hour over the next three years. Similarly, I voted in favor of the 2000 Wage and Employment Growth Act and the 2000 Small Business Investment Act – both bills proposed increases in the federal minimum wage.

Where I disagree with my opponent and the Washington labor unions bankrolling his campaign, however, is that I believe tax incentives for small business owners in WNC — who continue to drive new job creation as well as economic expansions — should go hand-in-hand with minimum wage increases. What is accomplished by increasing wages for entry-level workers if the small companies who would employ them cannot afford the higher Social Security taxes or the worker’s compensation insurance costs? As our region continues to recover from the manufacturing job losses caused by the Clinton Administration’s NAFTA giveaway, we cannot afford to hamper the growth of small business entrepreneurs. Working families in WNC deserve a fair wage for a fair day’s labor — just as the business owners who employ them deserve fair treatment from our nation’s tax policies.

Heath Shuler: I have always supported raising the federal minimum wage and will fight in Congress to see that it is raised. It is currently impossible for a person to raise a family if they are earning only the minimum wage. At $5.15 an hour, the current minimum wage, a person working full-time, never taking a day off, only earns $10,712 a year.

For nearly a decade the minimum wage has remained stagnant as we have watched exponential increases in the cost of health insurance, skyrocketing gasoline prices, and general cost of living increases.

This Congress and Charles Taylor have sat back and done nothing about it. That is immoral. Charles Taylor has consistently opposed raising the minimum wage and helping the poorest workers among us. Now, when facing a tough campaign he is trying to hide his record.

He repeatedly voted against raising the minimum wage. When asked in June 2006 by the Asheville Citizen-Times if he supported raising the minimum wage he said simply, “No.”

After taking a tremendous heat from the Democrats in the House of Representatives this summer, the Republicans decided to attach raising the minimum wage to a repeal of the estate tax. The only way Charles Taylor would support giving working families a few more dollars an hour was if he got a few more millions.

Congress must go back to work for the working families that are the backbone of America. We must get back to “an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”

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