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Will Congress Listen To Oprah?

Oprah Winfrey arrives at the Legends Ball in this May 14, 2005 file photo, in Santa Barbara, Calif. In 1988, Winfrey, dressed in skinny jeans and a long-sleeve dark top, wheeled a wagon loaded with fat onto the set of her show to represent her recent 67-pound weight loss.
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This column was written by Katrina Vanden Heuvel.
Last week I wrote about the efforts of Representative Sherrod Brown and others to change a system in which the federal minimum wage has been frozen for eight years at $5.15 an hour, while a corporate CEO earns $13,700 an hour.

But this week there were some hopeful signs — Arkansas raised its state minimum wage to $6.25 an hour. And Friday the most popular woman in America — Oprah — featured the struggles of minimum wage workers who earn a maximum of approximately $10,000 annually, and the growing coalition of organizations working to make certain that a hard day's work receives a fair day's pay.

Perhaps if the Republican Congress won't listen to America they will listen to Oprah. Stranger things have happened (why it was only weeks ago that George Bush attempted to wax – while not exactly eloquent — wax interested about America's addiction to oil).

With 86 percent of Americans in favor of an increase in the wage, this much is clear: no one wants leaders who turn a blind eye to people now forced to live out of their cars; working two and three jobs and still not making ends meet; and an increasingly squeezed middle class that is a stone's throw away from financial ruin.

And if Congress won't listen – not even to Oprah – then make sure they listen on Election Day. In the meantime, get involved on the local level to continue changing things for the better — state-by-state.
Reprinted with permission from The Nation