On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted against Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $15. One of the votes that helped knock down the progressive proposal came from Arizona’s Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. But Sinema didn’t just vote to keep poverty wages in place — she actually dressed up, carrying a Lululemon bag, and brought a cake.
Yes, the senator literally carried a cake to the Senate floor to give a proud “thumbs down” to keeping the $15-per-hour wage provision in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, a video of which quickly went viral. Following the incident, a spokesperson tried to clarify that Sinema brought the cake for Senate staffers who had been working all night — not as an homage to Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake.”
But no one online is buying these excuses, and sure enough, “Marie Antoinette” started trending on Twitter after Sinema’s vote. “She’s decided she’s going to be a media darling as Marie Antoinette of the establishment. Dress in a super fun way, do performatively hip thumbs downs as she votes to kill higher wages & now rub it in with symbolic cake we can all eat instead of higher salaries. #CorporateTool,” Cenk Uygur, the host of The Young Turks, tweeted. A former senior advisor to Sen. Sanders tweeted: “839k people in Arizona make under $15 an hour. They need a raise, and they deserve a better Senator than [Kyrsten] Sinema.”
Following the vote, Sinema tweeted: “I understand what it is like to face tough choices while working to meet your family’s most basic needs. I also know the difference better wages can make.” She added that the Senate should hold an “open debate” on raising the minimum wage. “I will keep working with colleagues in both parties to ensure Americans can access good-paying jobs, quality education, and skills training to build more economically sound secure lives for themselves and their families.”
The only problem here is that none of this is actually possible unless the national minimum wage is no longer a “starvation wage,” as Sen. Sanders has put it. Maybe if Sinema made $7.25 an hour instead of the Senate’s almost $200,000-a-year salary, she’d understand this a little better.
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