You’d be hard-pressed to find any holiday spirit inside the far right’s legislative agenda. They’ve led a coordinated attack on the poor; Republicans in 23 states have rejected federal money to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act; they’ve tried to significantly roll back or eliminate food stamps; they’ve resisted calls to extent unemployment benefits for millions of people currently looking for work; and they’ve rejected proposals to help the working poor earn a living wage.
Many Republicans–including House Speaker John Boehner–have consistently rejected the idea of increasing the minimum wage since the president raised the issue in his State of the Union address back in January. While it’s seen a recent surge of attention thanks to a new White House offensive on the issue of income inequality, there is currently no action on a deal in either the Senate or the House.
The GOP’s opposition comes despite evidence that the public overwhelming supports a wage hike. According to a recent ABC News-Washington Post Poll, two-thirds of Americans support an increase in the minimum wage, with the average respondent backing a level of $10.25 an hour, roughly in line with the $10.10 level Democrats are proposing. The current minimum wage is $7.25.
There’s little historic precedent to think the GOP will move the issue forward on their own.
Since it was established back in 1938, the minimum wage has been raised 23 times. According to data reviewed by NBC News and experts at the Brookings Institute, 21 of those increases came under Democratic Congresses. The only exception: in 1996 and 1997, when Republicans in control of both the House and Senate relented under public pressure to raise the wage as part of a broader deal to cut taxes for small businesses.
For more, turn into Hardball on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Dana Milbank of the Washington Post will weigh in.