Senate Democrats are focused this week on advancing a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. It's part of a midterm election year messaging strategy focused on the economic concerns of reliably Democratic base voters, including minorities, unmarried women and younger people.
But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) did no favors to that focus on younger voters Tuesday afternoon.
During a nearly 20-minute floor speech in defense of the proposed wage increase, Boxer noted that Congress has voted to raise the minimum wage 18 times since 1956. She also mentioned that as a teenager, she earned $.50 per hour — the minimum wage at the time for teens. (Adults earned $1 an hour at the time, she said.).
"Suppose the other side had taken that attitude, don't raise it," she said — referencing Republicans who are opposed to raising the wage to $10.10. "Well, it would still be, I guess, a buck an hour, 50 cents if you were kids. Today, 50 Cents is a singing group. Am I right about that?"
While Boxer was speaking to the entire room, she appeared to direct those comments directly to the high school-aged pages who work in the Senate Chamber opening doors, refilling water glasses and handing out paper copies of legislation. It wasn't possible to see their reaction to her comments.
In all likelihood, Boxer was attempting to make reference to 50 Cent, the rapper and actor. He's a solo act, probably best known for his hit single "In Da Club," which broke the Billboard magazine record for the most-listened-to song in radio history after its release in February 2003.
Several other Democratic senators were expected to speak in favor of the minimum wage increase Tuesday. A vote to formally begin debate on the measure is scheduled for Wednesday, but senior Senate Democratic aides expect that it will fall short of the 60 votes needed to proceed.