Senate Democrats going through the minimum-wage motions

posted at 8:41 am on April 1, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

If Senate Democrats are going to try and make their particular brand of minimum-wage economic populism the centerpiece of their collective midterm campaign — which, they are — they need to put forth some actual legislation on the issue, and that mini-campaign is getting off the ground in the Senate this week. Even if Democrats can’t get the at least five Republicans votes they need for cloture on Sen. Harkin’s legislation calling for a national rate of $10.10/hour, Harkin wants to keep repeatedly bringing up the vote on it, the better to lay waste to Republicans’ own economic messaging, via National Journal:

Senate Democrats are kicking off their 2014 election-year agenda this week with consideration of a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. And the legislation’s lead sponsor says almost every Democrat will vote “yes” on a crucial, procedural vote.

If Democrats get the wage bill through a cloture vote, it needs just a simple majority for final passage. All Democrats “may not be with us on the final bill,” Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “The key is to get over the filibuster of the Republicans, and I’m pretty confident we’ll have all the Democrats on that.”

All except for one, Harkin predicts. It is likely that Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who has come out against the proposal to raise the wage to $10.10, will not join the ranks. But even in that case, Pryor is not opposed to any minimum wage increase. He supports an effort to boost the Arkansas rate from $6.25 to $8.50 by 2017.

But Pryor apparently isn’t the only one with some reservations about the wisdom of such a steep and sudden increase and its effect on jobs; The Hill reports that Harry Reid is struggling to stop several Senate Democrats from backing a potential plan to undercut the $10.10 minimum-wage target with negotiations on a lower floor:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has been reaching out to Democrats to agree on a compromise that is threatening to divide the president’s party on this core component of its election-year message. …

Now, despite his staunch personal preference for $10.10, Reid’s office doesn’t rule out compromise depending on feeling within his caucus. …

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a GOP target this year, also indicated a willingness to do a deal. …

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) worries that, if Senate Democrats refuse to compromise at below $10.10, no bill will get through.

“The president had, I thought, a very good proposal last year, $9 and indexed [to inflation],” he said. …

The CBO estimated raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour would likely cost 100,000 jobs, significantly below the 500,000 jobs it warned might be lost by raising it to $10.10.

Obama initially proposed the $9/hour figure, but progressive Democrats convinced the White House to hike the figure up further in time for midterm campaigning — but it sounds like a few other Democrats are at least willing to acknowledge that such a top-down, across-the-board minimum wage makes zero economic sense:

But the real answer is: It depends on where you live. How can the same minimum wage be “right” for Manhattan and Birmingham, Ala., when Manhattan’s overall cost of living is 2.5 times greater? Manhattan will have higher average wages, and Birmingham lower wages due to these differences in the cost of living, but these wage differences say nothing about the quality of life that workers enjoy in the two areas.

Differences are even more extreme when you move out of metropolitan areas and look at rural counties, where costs of living – and yes, wages – can be much lower than in big cities. What seems like a reasonable minimum wage to someone living in San Francisco or New York City would be enough to price a low-skilled worker out of a job in a rural area like Boone County, Arkansas, where the cost of living is roughly 40 percent below the national average.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


Okay, there were rumors of the Pollard deal last night. The British sniper story is too feel good, but since it is feel good, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. This one stretched credulity a little much.

I think I will go outside for a while. Like the rest of the day.

cozmo on April 1, 2014 at 8:51 AM

How can the same minimum wage be “right” for Manhattan and Birmingham, Ala.,

Manhattan the NY Island or the city in Kansas? ;0

But the reality is that this proposal really makes zero economic sense. Just something to get the parasites in dead-end jobs excited about since they’re too lazy to better themselves and see it the government’s responsibility to force employers to give them more money. The reality is that raising the minimum wage would only lead to fewer employees and more automation. And guess what- the first to be fired are the greedy no-skills parasites most vocal about demanding a “living wage.”

Happy Nomad on April 1, 2014 at 8:59 AM

“If President Obama succeeds in his bid to raise America’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, the move would probably mean fewer jobs, not just higher pay for low-skill workers.

That’s the assessment given by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen Thursday in testimony before Congress.

She didn’t take a side on Obama’s proposed hike in the minimum wage, but she aligned herself with economists at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which recently estimated that Obama’s plan could mean about 500,000 fewer US jobs.

“I think almost all economists think that the minimum wage has two main effects,” Chair Yellen said. One is to boost pay for low-wage workers and the second is that “there would be some amount of negative impact on employment.”

How big the impact would be is a matter of “considerable debate,” she said, but she said she “wouldn’t argue” with the CBO assessment, saying the economists there are “good at this kind of evaluation…”

workingclass artist on April 1, 2014 at 8:59 AM

What seems like a reasonable minimum wage to someone living in San Francisco or New York City would be enough to price a low-skilled worker out of a job in a rural area like Boone County, Arkansas, where the cost of living is roughly 40 percent below the national average.

You forget; with Democrats “one size fits all”.

GarandFan on April 1, 2014 at 8:59 AM

Businesses are either cutting hours because of Obamacare or shedding jobs…so hiking the minimum wage in this economy is as stupid as it gets…

It’s a desperate DNC move designed for the midterms.

workingclass artist on April 1, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Democrats surfing for votes. Next: minimum wage hike, plus an ObamaPhone and 10% off your ObamaCare if you vote Democrat.

AND….the GM car that you bought during Obama Government Motors ownership goes to the head of the recall list!

albill on April 1, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Ah yes let us vote ourselves more money. The republic is ailing and possibly in the throws of a slow lingering death.

Skwor on April 1, 2014 at 9:19 AM

OT…and apparently not an April Fool’s joke…

“SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — On the deadline to sign up for health coverage through Covered California, some hearing-impaired residents were sent to a chat line offering ‘hot ladies’ instead of an insurance navigator.
With the deadline looming, an Auburn man scrambled to sign up for Covered California.
A page on the site where users can calculate the cost of coverage lists an incorrect phone number as 1-888-899-4500. The number, which was correct on the Contact Us page, is similar, but just one digit off: 1-888-889-4500.
So what does the incorrect number go to? This is what greets callers instead of health insurance advice:
“Welcome to America’s hottest talk line. Ladies, to talk to interesting and exciting guys free, press one now. Guys, hot ladies are waiting to talk to you. Press two to connect free now,” the recording says.
Jeff Brown admits he dialed that number, thinking he was signing up for health insurance.
He logged onto the Covered California site just hours before the March 31 deadline. He filled out all the boxes, and then he says a box popped up saying he needed to call a 1-800 number.
He says when he called, all he got was a busy signal. He decided to try the number next to that, a TTY number for the hearing-impaired.
“I’ll try this number again just in case I dialed it wrong—same thing,” he said.

A Covered California spokesperson declined an on-camera interview, first saying by email, “We’ve never had the incorrect number on our site.”
A screenshot captured by CBS13 shows the incorrect number as it appeared on the site.
Later, we would get another email saying in part, “…After investigating it further, we are reviewing the shop and compare tool as an incorrect number. We’re currently working to correct the problem.”
The mistake has since been fixed on the Covered California website.
“I guess it’s an honest mistake,” Brown said, “but websites aren’t that hard to keep up right….”

workingclass artist on April 1, 2014 at 9:23 AM

The ‘pubs need to vote for cloture on this bill the same way Reid ‘votes’ (or, even presents) for budgets presented by the House.

vnvet on April 1, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Have anyone who doesn’t think raising the minimum wage will cost jobs read this article and explain exactly where I got it wrong.

The only thing economists argue about is the relative elasticities of supply and demand, which in turn affects how much a minimum-wage increase will drive unemployment and how much will go toward price increases mislabeled as “inflation” (true inflation is an increase in the general price level caused by increasing the amount of money in circulation).

Another way to get them is to say “Why don’t we raise the minimum wage to $100/hr?” If they say yes, double it to $200/hr and continue doubling until they say no, don’t be ridiculous, etc. Then ask them what’s wrong with that minimum wage. Whatever reason they offer, ask why it doesn’t apply to $10.10 (perhaps to a lesser extent).

The Monster on April 1, 2014 at 9:45 AM

take all the wind out of their sails and push for a $15/hr wage. It would necessarily go down to defeat with dems voting it down and strangling their whole messaging campaign.

smitty41 on April 1, 2014 at 9:45 AM

…it’s Harkin for gosh sake!

KOOLAID2 on April 1, 2014 at 9:48 AM

…it’s Harkin for gosh sake!

KOOLAID2 on April 1, 2014 at 9:48 AM

a going away present before a farmer takes his seat?

smitty41 on April 1, 2014 at 9:51 AM

I say make them own it. Republicans vote for cloture and against the final bill. The president signs it and unemployment goes up. Their fault.

ojfltx on April 1, 2014 at 11:05 AM

smitty41 on April 1, 2014 at 9:51 AM


KOOLAID2 on April 1, 2014 at 11:12 AM

If Senate Democrats are going to try and make their particular brand of minimum-wage economic populism the centerpiece

“Try and make”? For real?

Jazz on April 1, 2014 at 12:04 PM