For a moment there the other week, I was kind of thrown by President Obama’s SOTU suggestion that we hike the minimum wage, and I chalked it up to just another lame, old-and-tired faux-stimulus type of suggestion for growing the economy. As Allahpundit already pointed out yesterday, however, it’s really so much more than that. In the run-up to the 2006 midterms, a minimum wage increase was one of the specific issues Democrats used in their collective campaign to take over the House — and in their desperate upcoming bid to win back the House in 2014, they are ready and rarin’ to use the highly populist issue as a fan to flame that whole “protecting rich people is the only thing binding the GOP together” narrative into which they are once again venturing. (Although, they may not even get the chance to make it a campaign issue, ugh.)
In an interview with me, Nancy Pelosi summed up the message Dems used against Republicans in 2006, and will again use in 2014: “Just keep it simple. We want to raise the minimum wage, and you don’t. Why not?”
… Pelosi tells me she would much prefer that Republicans agree to raise the minimum wage before it ever becomes a campaign issue, but if they don’t, Democrats will rerun the 2006 minimum wage playbook — and that if anything, it will be worse this time, because it encapsulates the argument the parties have been having in the years since the financial crisis heightened public awareness about inequality. …
Pelosi also linked the minimum wage to Keynesian economics: “Our economy is best served by rewarding work, by having those workers be stronger consumers, providing for their families, spending money, and injecting demand into the economy. You cannot deny that putting money into the hands of working people at that level is the best way to grow the economy.”
Oh, can’t I? ‘Cause I’m about to argue that forcing employers to pay their employees more via arbitrary government mandate, means less total employment. Raising the minimum wage is a dumb thing to do during the best of times, but will have an especially harmful impact on low-income workers in this strugglebus of an economy.
But, if you really must insist, here are a few “We want to raise the minimum wage, and you don’t. Why not?” rejoinders for you:
We want to create jobs, and you don’t. Why not?
We want to allow the private-sector economy to grow from the bottom-up instead of shrinking it from the top-down, and you don’t. Why not?
We want to engender the type of robust economic growth that is most effective in lifting people out of poverty, and you don’t. Why not?
We want to maintain opportunities for young people to build skills with part-time and entry-level jobs, and you don’t. Why not?
We want to stop misleading the public with intellectually cheap, populist notions about free money for political gain, and you don’t. Why not?