This proposal should die on its own merits, but that isn’t what Joe Biden told mayors last week. The last thing employers need at the moment is an artificial increase in the price of labor when they’re struggling to meet payroll as it is. Hiking the minimum wage by twice its current level over the next five years will put a lot of small business owners under, cost tons of entry-level jobs, but will make larger companies that can afford automation very very happy.
That’s not why Biden’s pulling down expectations for the “fight for $15” to be part of the reconciliation package for COVID-19 relief, though. Biden knows it won’t get past the parliamentarian in the Senate — and even if it did, the minimum-wage hike would shortly be stricken by amendments, thanks to Democratic defections:
When Joe Biden met with a group of mayors and governors last week he bluntly told them to get ready for a legislative defeat: his proposed minimum wage hike was unlikely to happen, he said, at least in the near term.
“I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” Biden told the group, according to a person in the room. “I’m not going to give up. But right now, we have to prepare for this not making it.”
The comments, which were confirmed by two other people familiar with the conversation, were the furthest Biden has gone in conceding the coming axing of the $15-an-hour minimum wage provision from his first major legislative package. And they suggest that the president is more inclined to manage the fallout of it not being included than to pursue long-shot, political-capital consuming efforts to fight for its insertion.