Be thankful The Squad and other House Democrats don’t control the Senate and White House. They would happily put millions of Americans out of work and render them as government dependents.
That is what they and other Democrats voted to do Thursday. By a 231-199 margin, mostly along partisan lines, the House brazenly voted to kill between 1.3 million and 3.7 million jobs. Incredibly, they named the bill “The Raise The Wage Act of 2019.”
The jobs-killing prediction is not from some right-wing think tank trying to make Democrats look bad. It is the warning provided to House members by their nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The report says 1.3 million workers “would become jobless” under a federal $15-an-hour minimum wage mandate. Not “could,” or “might” become jobless. Would become jobless if the bill becomes law, requiring employers to pay $15 an hour by 2025.
The loss of 1.3 million jobs represents the best-case scenario. The same report calculates a “two-thirds chance” of job losses up to 3.7 million.
Bill supporters would sacrifice those jobs so they can run on the promise of giving other workers a raise. Indeed, the report estimates the wage mandate would help about 17 million who earn less than $15.
The report estimates workers earning below the poverty threshold would fall by 1.3 million. That’s great for them, but not so good for the 3.7 million who could end up with no income.
It is a political handout to benefit politicians at the expense of the most vulnerable in the labor force.
Not long ago, the idea of a $15 federal wage mandate was too extreme for most Democrats. That was before a clique of radical House freshman wagged the dog.
“When the Fight for $15 movement was launched, the figure seemed absurdly high, and even Democrats thought it was politically impossible,” reports The New York Times.
The Squad’s glitzy celebrity leader, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has made the wage hike central to her platform. She staged a stunt in June, tending bar in New York to advocate for the bill with cameras rolling. She wants considerably more.
“It’s not just about $15, it’s about $15 and a union,” she said, as quoted by the Times.
There’s a reason Democrats have so little concern for the 1.3 million who would lose their jobs, and the millions who would likely join them. It is the same reason Democrats want to eliminate the Electoral College. They don’t care for “flyover” country, where Midwestern, Rust Belt and Southern workers elected President Donald Trump against the wishes of urban voters on the coasts.
San Francisco tea houses, and their customers, can probably afford $15-an-hour workers. Mom and pop cafes in rural Kentucky probably cannot.
“The worst aspect of this legislation is that it treats small towns and rural areas as if they have the same labor markets and cost of living as large metropolitan urban areas,” says U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, a Republican representing rural areas of Tennessee.
“Some estimates indicate the cost-of-living in Washington, D.C., is 96.1 percent higher than Johnson City, Tenn. Even within the state of Tennessee, the median home cost in Nashville is 189.4 percent higher than Newport. Cities and towns across America are different — different jobs, opportunities and costs-of-living — which is why a national $15 per hour minimum wage is so harmful.”
Consider Colorado, where local economies and lifestyles vary dramatically from one town to the next. A $15-an-hour-wage amounts to an annual salary of $31,200 a year. Comparing the value of that wage in a variety of Colorado communities, using Sperling’s Cost of Living Calculator, tells the story.
“A salary of $31,200 in Boulder, Colorado could decrease to $14,123 in Wray, Colorado,” explains the calculator.
Even within El Paso County, we find substantial economic diversity among communities.
“A salary of $31,200 in Monument, Colorado could decrease to $24,743 in Calhan, Colorado.”
It is a safe bet the $15 wage mandate would harm more small businesses, and kill more jobs, in Wray and Calhan than in Boulder and Monument. Rural consumers cannot magically adjust when businesses raise prices to fund a large wage mandate.
For now, the bill is little more than a pandering political statement. It has almost no chance of passing the Senate or clearing the president’s desk. One election could change all that.
Democratic presidential and senatorial candidates will dangle this raise to attract voters, never mentioning the jobs it will destroy. Average voters won’t see the Congressional Budget Office report, and media will mostly ignore it.
On the surface, without the whole picture, a wage hike is hard for voters to resist. It is the ultimate political handout. Washington will put bosses in their place and stand up for workers. If voters fall for it, giving Democrats full control of the federal government, millions will lose their jobs; few will connect the dots.
The Gazette Editorial Board