BREAKING: “Republicans block Dems’ minimum wage hike, citing stagnant economy”
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a bill to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, arguing that the central legislation in the Democrats’ “fair shot” agenda would kill jobs and hurt the economy.
The vote was 54-42, falling short of the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster. The debate started just hours after the Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy barely grew at all in the first quarter, expanding only 0.1 percent.
The bad economic news gave the GOP a talking point to counter Democratic arguments that raising the minimum wage, which was last increased in 2009, would lift many working families out of poverty.
Well, thank goodness for the Commerce Department report, which the Republicans will try to (unsuccessfully, if I have my guess) use as political cover. But then, it is easier than explaining the economics behind a minimum wage increase — at least, they believe it to be — because they think most of the subjects outside DC are too stupid to comprehend something so overcomplicated as, eg., math.
Here, let me help: an employer has X amount of dollars to run his or her operation and still pay all the taxes, etc., leaving them with enough of a profit incentive to keep the business running. By forcing upon such employers a wage that doesn’t allow for enough profit incentive to keep the business running, the government all but compels employers to do one of a handful of things: cut the number of employees, because it now costs more per employee to run the operation, and the cost of running the operation hasn’t changed; raise price on the consumer end, which is essentially a usage tax on everyone who buys from the employer or uses his or her service; hire illegals to work at a reduced wage in order to stay solvent and to keep that expense off the books, a move that hurts US citizens by decreasing the number of jobs; or insist upon far more skilled workers at the artificially inflated wage, which translates to fewer entry-level jobs for the young, minorities, etc., creating a restless new dependency class with no way of solving the catch-22 of accumulating work experience in order to move up to the next level job.
The bill, even if it had passed the Senate, stood no chance of consideration in the Republican-led House.
Instead, Senate Democrats plan to use the vote to contrast their party with the GOP as the critical November election approaches.
Democratic lawmakers sought to make the distinction in the moments leading up to the vote. A minimum wage increase, they argued, is the only way to offer lower wage workers a fair chance at achieving the American dream.
A full-time worker receiving the minimum wage earns about $15,000 per year, far below the $23,850 poverty level for a family of four. The CBO report found that a minimum wage increase to $10.10 would move 900,000 people about the poverty threshold.
“Who is this chamber is going to stand with millions of Americans who work full-time but are left on the brink of poverty, struggling to make ends meet?” Asked Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who authored the legislation. “And who is going to vote against them?”
The minimum wage bill is the second measure Democrats offered in their “fair shot” agenda. Earlier this month, Republicans blocked a Democratic bill that aimed to ensure women receive equal pay. The legislation would have expanded federal oversight and regulation of private company wages and would have expanded the ability to sue over pay differences.
The minimum wage vote, however, will be tougher for the GOP to defend on the campaign trail, with polls showing wide public support for it.
“This is about trying to make this side of the aisle look bad and hard-hearted,” Cornyn noted.
So then take that power away from them. It’s simple, really: stop looking at polls and start embracing principles. Once you do that, you’ll find how easy it easy to counter the left’s phony “fairness” rhetoric.
Try bullet points if your mush brains can’t routinely make a basic, common-sense economic argument: minimum-wage jobs are meant to be entry-level jobs. Increasing the minimum wage will essentially create a tax on everyone, as employers raise prices on goods and services to make up for the costs incurred.
Worse still, while the CBO report finds that forcing employers to pay more for jobs that the market doesn’t think is worth the increase will “move 900,000 people about the [ever-fluid and increasingly relativistic] poverty threshold,” it will seriously reduce opportunity for low-skilled workers or those entering the work force for the first time, creating a pool of new people who will then refill that same original poverty demographic — the upshot being that less people will have work, and the consumer will pay more. Women, children, and minorities hardest hit.
Why is it so hard to articulate these things?
Well, if I had to guess, it’s because many of the long-term GOP establishment pols have forgotten basic free-market economics, and because they’ve acceded to the left that the only thing that matters is positioning and “strategy” for positioning in the run-up to elections.
This, they believe, is “realism.” “Pragmatism.”
Yet as I’ve written on numerous occasions, it is equally pragmatic to assert free-market principles and to take away the left’s emotional and rhetorical cudgel. In this instance, the counter could easily be, should the GOP need to soundbite it, “in a country where we already have a high rate of unemployment, particularly among minorities, women, and the young, why does the Democratic party want to worsen that situation by diminishing entry-level opportunity and creating a universal user tax on goods and services that disproportionately would harm the poor they claim to champion?
“Democrat demagoguery to the contrary, one does not help the impoverished by rewarding the few by taking away opportunity for employment from the many, then in essence taxing all of us on goods and services. This is just another example of the left choosing winners and losers. And when they do so, the biggest loser is the country — and the only winner is the Democrats, should they prevail in making emotional appeals about ‘fairness’ that are fundamentally unfair to the majority of Americans.”
Come on. This ain’t rocket science — though for dinosaurs like McCain, McConnell, Graham, and Alexander, I’m sure it must sometimes feel that way.