February 16, 2013 by David K. Sutton
Raising Minimum Wage: The Public Supports It, So Why Don’t Republicans?
There is great public support for raising the minimum wage, and this support crosses the political divide. Depending on the poll, support can range from 67 to 86 percent.
During the State of the Union address, President Obama said, “Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to 9 dollars an hour.” The president’s declaration got a rousing response from at least half of those who attended the speech in person. But it was clear Republicans were not embracing the idea, as Speaker John Boehner remained seated behind the president along with his fellow Republicans in the rest of the chamber.
Republicans, at least elected Republicans, will tell you that raising the minimum wage will lead to job losses. In fact, Speaker Boehner said just that. “When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,” said Boehner. Well there you have it. If that wasn’t boilerplate Republican logic then I don’t know what is. They always have a way of framing things with such simple language that your initial reaction might be, “Sure, that makes sense.” But where’s the data to back up the claim? We know raising the minimum wage would help millions of Americans. It requires zero data to prove people would be better off if they made $9 per hour instead of $7.25. But if you are going to reject raising the minimum wage because you say it will kill jobs, then I require proof, and so should all Americans.
Turns out, people have studied this.
The Public Supports Raising the Minimum Wage. What about the Politicians?
Differing state minimum wage laws provide empirical evidence of how wage legislation affects the labor market. And the proof is in the pudding: Where minimum wages have increased there has not been a loss of employment compared with labor markets where there was no increase.
This is just one more example of where Republican policy leaves us beholden to businesses. They believe we must cater to CEOs and business owners for they are the job creators. But Republicans, as usual, have it backwards. We are the job creators. Consumers create jobs. If the average American has more money in his or her pocket, it is likely to be spent, fueling the economy, and in turn, helping those very same businesses.
So if you are a Republican, and you support raising the minimum wage, why not start by raising hell with your elected officials, particularly if they are also Republicans.