Thursday marked the five-year anniversary of the last federal minimum wage hike—and the day that Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland ran out of cash just days into his attempt to live on a minimum wage budget.
“I had $77 to spend on food, transportation, activities and other personal expenses for the week,” the Ohio Democrat and current president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund wrote in Politico magazine. “I didn’t make it.”
He’s advocating raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 – “hardly a living wage, but a major step forward.” Democrats have adopted hiking the minimum wage as an election year priority, though Republicans have balked at the idea and legislation has been stalled in Congress.
Strickland, who was one of a handful of legislators who took the minimum wage so-called Live the Wage challenge last week, used his own experience to highlight hard choices, limited options, and hardships those living on minimum wage must face.
Strickland described eating macaroni and cheese, food from the McDonald’s dollar menu, bologna, peanut butter, and eggs, not because they’re particularly nutritious but because they’re affordable; he admitted being late for a meeting because it took him longer than expected to walk miles in DC’s July weather and skipping meals to save money. When he got sick early in the week, he wrote that he lucked out because he already owned the medicine to help with the symptoms, which could have busted his budget. Strickland adds that he was supporting just himself on the $77 dollars, though many families must feed multiple dependents on that same amount.“Washington is in a bubble that keeps our representatives away from the experiences of those they actually represent,” he wrote. “I know I’ll never be able to truly walk in the shoes of a minimum wage worker, but experiencing just some of the decisions this income requires on a daily basis is enough to understand that we need to do better for these hardworking families.”