Centrist Democrats are ever so concerned, as they always are, about the unintended consequences of their progressive colleagues trying to be too darn nice to people. According to the Hill, some centrist Dems are worried, in absolute good faith and for totally not-stupid reasons, about a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The minimum wage desperately needs to be raised to at least $15 an hour—remember, the Fight for $15 began in 2012, and the cost of living has only risen since then. The minimum wage of $7.25 an hour isn’t enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment in any state in America; there are many states where even $15 an hour wouldn’t cut it. (This bill would only raise the minimum wage to $15 after five years, meaning inflation and the cost of living will put that figure even further behind what’s necessary.)
Well, you might very well say that people need to be able to afford housing in which to live and raise children. But have you thought about The Concerns?
“I am concerned about the fact that $15 is an arbitrary number that means a lot more in certain parts of the country than it does another,” said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who flipped a seat in 2018 that had been held by Republicans for years.
“I believe there are better mechanisms by which we can ensure that by providing incentives to enterprises who take better care of people,” Phillips said, adding that he was on the fence about supporting the bill.
There Are Better Mechanisms By Which We Can Ensure That By Providing Incentives To Enterprises 2020. I can just see it.
Some other centrist Democrats, meanwhile, seem to be struggling with what a “minimum” wage means.
But other Democrats argue that in a country as economically diverse as the United States, an across-the-board base wage doesn’t make sense.
“The minimum wage in San Francisco should probably be $30 an hour, OK? But the minimum wage in West Virginia or Arkansas is a different story,” said freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), whose state recently moved to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2024.
Well, Jeff, the thing about the federal minimum wage is that it is the minimum wage. You know, the fewest amount of dollars per hour that a company can pay an employee in America. Cities and states are welcome to raise that minimum wage in their area; it is not the federally-mandated Wage For Bad Jobs. For example, San Francisco already has a minimum wage of $15.59 per hour, more than twice the federal minimum wage. Many states have raised their minimum wages in recent years, while Congress has twiddled its thumbs.
Furthermore, the idea that San Francisco’s cost of living means West Virginia or Arkansas workers don’t need a $15 an hour minimum wage is ridiculous. According to MIT’s Living Wage calculator, if you are a single person with no kids in West Virginia, the living wage is $10.84 per hour. Lower than $15, you might note. But what if you have a child? Then, the living wage goes up to $21.80. Two kids? $26.31. What if you’re a dual-parent household but only one of them can work? It’s $17.45. To reiterate, that’s more than what the minimum wage currently is in San Francisco.
Having a child is not a luxury, and you should be able to afford to be a single parent in America, too. But even in cheap old West Virginia, that’s impossible right now.
The Hill also quoted a true villain, Shannon Meade of the National Restaurant Association, which successfully killed the tipped minimum wage measure that voters approved in DC. A similar provision to gradually eliminate the separate tipped minimum wage exists in the Democrats’ bill. Meade told the Hill that raising the wage “too soon or too high will hurt small businesses, force a reduction in hours available to work and potentially put restaurants out of business.”
Funny, then, that California, where there is no separate tipped minimum wage, still has restaurants—and in fact the NRA itself projects “over the next decade, employment in the industry will grow by 10.6 percent in California.”
As we’ve noted before, the political thinking behind opposing minimum wage hikes is ridiculous—raising the minimum wage is very popular. But their policy reasoning? It’s also terrible. Very bad. Do not listen to them. Let them cry about it and then leave Congress in four years for a gig at Third Way. They’ll be happier that way.