CNN’s Avlon Falsely Claims Past Minimum Wage Hikes Didn’t Destroy Jobs
AVLON: “The fate of the minimum wage could be decided over the next few days. President Biden wants to raise the federal minimum to $15 an hour, phased in over four years. Now, that's more than double what it is today and this is a popular idea. According to a 2019 Pew survey, two-thirds of Americans support it, that’s 43 percent of Republicans as well as 86 percent of Democrats, and during the pandemic, this is needed more than ever. Income inequality is on the rise and most minimum wage workers can’t work from home. But this isn’t a simple question of good versus bad. There could be unexpected consequences. If you don’t like policy, I’m sorry. Get stupid someplace else. Because this debate could make a real difference in people’s lives. Let’s get some facts on the table. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, hasn’t been raised since 2009, also it's not pegged to inflation, which means that the purchasing power declines over time. So while the minimum wage worker made $1.60 in 1969 that’s the equivalent of $12.27 today. How many Americans make minimum wage or less? Around 1.6 million, that translates to $15,000 a year which if you have a dependent, puts you below the poverty line. But 29 states have minimum wages higher than the federal level, and the cost of living, of course, varies greatly by region. The CBO says that raise in the minimum wage could have tradeoffs though. And on the positive side, it would raise wages by more than $330 billion for 17 million workers, nearly 1 million people would be lifted out of poverty, and the government would actually spend less for food assistance. On the downside the CBO estimates it could increase unemployment by 1.4 million and raise the federal deficit $54 billion over a decade. Other studies argue it would give a boost to the entire economy and certainly doomsaying about past minimum wage hikes did not come to pass. Nonetheless, this is easier said than done, especially for small businesses. Heck, get this. Even Bernie Sanders ran into trouble when some of his campaign workers complained they weren’t being paid the minimum wage he was campaigning on at the time. Sanders argued he was paying the equivalent of $15 an hour if you add in benefits. There is an additional hurdle. Senate rules. Even President Biden doesn’t think his minimum wage proposal will survive as part of his Covid relief bill. This Friday the House will vote, then the Senate takes it up. But they’re expected to pass it on party lines through what's called reconciliation, which is only for budget items and there’s a debate whether this qualifies. In addition, two Senate Democrats say they won’t support it. So does that mean it's DOA? Not necessarily. Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton put forward their own proposal raising the minimum wage to $10 but require that companies verify their employees are not undocumented, while also creating flexibility for small businesses with fewer than 20 workers. I know this is a lot to digest but this is a real policy debate, not one of the fact-free food fights we’ve seen so much of in recent years. It would affect millions of people struggling to get by, and if that’s not worth taking seriously, nothing is. And that’s your reality check."