Bid to increase minimum wage nixed
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate refused Wednesday to raise the minimum wage, rejecting an election-year proposal from Democrats for the first increase in nearly a decade.
The vote was 52-46, eight short of the 60 needed.
“I don’t think the Republicans get it,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, who backed a proposal for a three-step increase in the current wage floor to $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage has been fixed at $5.15 an hour since 1997.
Republican critics said the minimum wage was a job killer, not the boon to low-wage workers portrayed by Democrats.
“This is a classic debate between two different philosophies. One philosophy believes in the marketplace, competition and entrepreneurship, and the second is a philosophy that says government knows best,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia. He said France and Germany have high minimum wages but also high unemployment.
But Kennedy and other advocates of an increase said minimum wage workers have been without a raise since 1997.
Underscoring the political context of the debate, he said if Democrats win the Senate this November, a minimum wage increase will be one of the first pieces of legislation to be considered.
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Isn’t it telling how Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson listed factual, empirical reasons to be against the minimum wage yet Kennedy and ‘other advocates’ dodged his argument and simply reiterated their point? The reason is that the economics of the minimum wage are clearly on the Republican side, yet Democrats know that many voters are economically ignorant, so they would rather play on that ignorance for more political votes, even though playing on that ignorance results in more job losses and a lower standard of living for those very voters.
The reason that the minimum wage is one of the last few remaining price controls is precisely because it carries so much political support, even though its results are clearly opposite of what the voters intend. For more on how the minimum wage harms workers, and especially low skilled minority workers, go here, here, here and here.