I respond to the president's call to raise the minimum wage.
Republicans are desperately searching for a new image, new brand, new ways to convince the average Joe that they’re not just the party of the rich catering to the American plutocracy. Really, they care about the poor, about inequality, about job growth and not just budget slashing. The new Republican strategy of saying they care about the poor is a significant improvement from outward scorn and disdain for the poor but just imagine, if there was an actual policy proposal to back it up…
What if there was a way to directly help millions and lower unemployment without another budget busting stimulus?
What if there was a way to reverse the rising tide of inequality without increasing taxes and redistribution?
What if there was a way to address poverty while incentivizing work and decreasing government dependence?
If all that sounds great than have I got a policy for you! Increasing the minimum wage would do all of these things. If in fact Republicans care about the plight of the working poor and stemming the tide of rising income inequality, then a minimum wage hike is exactly the sort of pro-self reliance policy that a remade GOP should support.
And it’s not so crazy to think that they could support it! The last minimum wage increase was passed with bipartisan support. And a minimum wage increase is supported by the same logic as the earned income tax credit, an idea that Republicans embraced as an alternative to welfare during Reagan’s 1986 tax reform. Reward work. Avoid government handouts. Build a culture of personal responsibility rather than dependency.
Naturally since the president proposed it, Boehner, Rubio and Paul Ryan have all dismissed raising the minimum wage out of hand.
At first blush Boehner’s argument sounds reasonable but it doesn’t hold up so well under closer inspection. The real world data shows that gains in productivity and increased consumer spending offset the increased wage costs resulting in no job losses. There’s some common sense we can apply here too. Corporate profits are at an all time high as a percent of GDP while wages are at an all time low. Seems to me, that some of those profits could be used to pay workers a bit more.
Let’s be honest here though. The real reason that Republicans oppose the minimum wage isn’t their conservative ideology. After all, what’s conservative about subsidizing the profits of private corporations through welfare, food stamps and medicaid, so that they can underpay their workers
No, the reason Republican’s oppose the minimum wage is precisely because their corporate benefactors want the taxpayer subsidy of low wages to continue. They’re all for corporate welfare. Well, it’s time for the GOP’s corporate sponsors to actually step up and take some personal responsibility instead of leaching off the taxpayer. Maybe if the GOP actually took a stand for an increased minimum wage, they could make their rhetoric meaningful and their rebranding substantive. Until then, in tragic irony, the millions of Americans who serve our food, take care of our children and serve us in countless ways will continue to be undervalued and forced into government dependence by the GOP and the businesses these Republican’s are beholden to.