One problem with the Wikileaks release of all these Clinton emails in such a short period of time is that it’s almost impossible to really dig into all of them. Fortunately, other folks such as those at the Washington Times have been doing the leg work and digging up some of the good stuff. One item of note was the revelation that Hillary Clinton’s public opinion probably isn’t quite the same as her private opinion when it comes to the subject of the minimum wage and the Fight for 15 which so many of her supporters are rallying behind. As it turns out, she’s had some information in hand for quite a while now which shows that even liberal economists know this is a disaster in the making.
Among the illegally obtained and leaked emails of senior Clinton campaign staffer John Podesta are several gems, one of which is a warning from Neera Tanden, head of the left-wing Center for American Progress that Podesta helped found. In an email chain discussing New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s decision to come out in favor of more than doubling the minimum wage, Tanden noted that her group had not formally come out for it, and warned that Clinton shouldn’t either.
“Substantively, we have not supported $15 — you will get a fair number of liberal economists who will say it will lose jobs,” she wrote. Still, eleven months later, she was among those praising California Gov. Jerry Brown for signing legislation that will make $15 the minimum wage in California. And Clinton, though supportive of some local efforts, has avoided backing a national $15 wage, in spite of pressure from her left to do so.
Clinton had been out on the campaign trail publicly cheering the individual states which enact a fifteen dollar per hour minimum wage, while still holding a more reserved approach on the national level. (She previously supported a roughly $12 per hour level.) But later in her primary fight against Bernie Sanders she began sounding more and more as if she was ready to take the Fight for 15 to the federal stage.
Don’t bet on it. We now see that Clinton has been sitting on information which shows what most of us already knew: this would destroy jobs for the most vulnerable workers on a broad scale. One of the biggest reasons, as shown in the linked release, is the simple fact that relatively few minimum wage workers are heads of household or currently living under the poverty level. Most of those jobs are entry level positions which require the lowest levels of skill and experience, so they are taken by young people looking to get that first entry on their resume.
When you force employers to offer a substantially higher wage they will be able to be far more choosy in who gets the remaining positions they can afford to pay for. This means that older, more experienced workers will be attracted to those jobs, shutting out the younger people looking to enter the workforce with no skills or background. The other employer responses such as cutting the number of new hires and turning to suddenly affordable automation will add to the flood of people turning to the unemployment lines.
It’s obvious that Clinton knows all of this already and it’s unlikely that the Fight for 15 crowd will find themselves very satisfied with their champion if she gets into office. Will that matter to them at the voting booth? Probably not. I think most of us are used to those public positions evaporating once the votes have been counted.