Democrats stil looking for a fight over minimum-wage hike

posted at 6:41 pm on June 19, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

The unemployment rate and the economy are more or less stalled out; young people are disproportionately unemployed; businesses are reducing hours and hiring fewer workers; and crushing federal regulations are raising the costs of doing business and dragging on entrepreneurialism — but heck, by all means, let’s just keep on keepin’ on down that road of damaging central planning and top-down market intervention by applying an arbitrary and politically-determined wage standard, because it feels good. If you’re at all into growing a robust economy, creating good jobs, and engendering widespread prosperity, then raising the price of hiring for employers is one of most fundamentally terrible and counter-productive polices you can advocate… but when has that ever stopped the Democrats?

In his State of the Union address last February, President Obama suddenly reintroduced the idea of hiking the national minimum wage — it’s a standard progressive go-to, and Congressional Democrats have glommed onto the suggestion with all the force of intellectually cheap and self-righteous populism. Congressional Republicans haven’t even hinted that they’d entertain the notion of raising as well as indexing the minimum wage, but the Democrats are still trying to move forward with it  (and I have zero doubts that it will be one of their preferred distraction-from-the-actual-issues, Republicans-must-really-hate-poor-people- memes come campaign season Summer 2014 — because who really cares that minimum wage laws actually hurt the working poor the most?). Via Roll Call:

The proposal to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour was a surprise policy addition to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in February, and Republicans in Congress generally see it as dead on arrival. …

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, a longtime champion of higher wages, says the issue likely will simmer until the 2014 campaign season. “States are ahead of us,” Harkin said. “There may be a disagreement over how much, but people realize we’ve got to do it.”

Obama and other party leaders will use the 75th anniversary of the enactment of the Depression-era law setting a wage benchmark on June 25 to rally support for their push to raise the minimum wage.

Obama’s proposal would raise the minimum wage in two steps and would mandate annual indexing for inflation. Some Democrats, including Harkin, have gone beyond the president’s plan, endorsing an increase to $10.10 within three years, before automatic increases begin.

Democrats plan to focus on the fact that eighteen individual states now have their own minimum wage laws that go higher than the federal standard as evidence of supposed popular support for a national increase — but the fact that a handful of states have been jumping off of the employment bridge doesn’t mean that the entire country should, too. I really have no idea from where it is these Democrats believe the money for raising the price of employing people is going to come. I think that they think that eeevil corporations and fat cats sitting on their ill-begotten piles of gold will finally get their comeuppance, or something, but here in the real world, more expensive jobs translates into fewer jobs and/or higher prices — neither of which help to create the economic opportunities of which Americans are sorely in need.


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