Republicans in the Senate have blocked Senate Democrats in their attempt to raise the U.S. minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25 per hour. Democrats claim the rise in minimum wage is necessary to raise the poorest citizens from poverty and Republicans claim it will hurt small business and lead to higher unemployment. The vote of 52-42 fell along party lines. Several states already have higher minimum wages than the federal minimum wage, Hawaii being the most recent, raised its minimum wage to $10.10/hour.
This vote was as much about grandstanding and election day politics as it was about the minimum wage. Democrats desperately need issues that separate them from the Republicans as it is widely expected that Democrats will lose seats in the Senate to the Republicans which could mean a majority for Republicans in both houses of Congress. But what is the real issue on minimum wage and who is correct?
The fact is, both sides make valid points. Capitalism for better or worse is about profit. If the minimum wage is raised from $7.25 to $10.10, then companies will take the hit. However, this would have very little affect on big business because at the end of the day, such an increase would be inconsequential, no matter what companies might claim. But, to a small business that may only be making a small profit at the end of the day, it could mean the difference between solvency and bankruptcy. Therefore, if the Federal minimum wage was to be increased, these small businesses would need to be provided tax breaks or incentives in order to offset the higher labor costs. The Democrats are correct in fighting for a higher minimum wage because in 2014, $7.25 an hour is simply ridiculous and can not be defended.
The best way to get government out of people’s lives, which is the supposed goal of all Republicans, is for people to be able to provide for themselves. That’s how you shrink the Welfare State (a term that can equate to weakness and dependence). There’s nothing good about it although it is a necessary evil. Give businesses incentives not to lay off people because of a higher minimum wage and the Welfare State should become less necessary and isn’t that what we all should want? It’s a sign of strength. In fact, the government should give incentives to businesses to pay higher than minimum wages and ensure those incentives are passed on to their employees. People taking care of themselves and not dependent on the government. We are not Europeans. They love handouts. I say it’s Un American.
One final point, minimum wage was never about supporting families. Minimum wage was supposed to be a temporary net against abusive labor practices as immigrants and the poor joined the labor force; a stepping stone. President Obama in response to the vote said the following, “By preventing even a vote on this bill, they prevented a raise for 28 million hardworking Americans. They said no to helping millions work their way out of poverty. And keep in mind this bill would’ve done so without any new taxes or spending or bureaucracy.” But the raise in minimum wage can not be used to save the middle class because it won’t. Anyone saying anything different is a liar. A raise in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour won’t raise families from poverty, it will simply make liberals feel good about themselves. Look, we’ve done something. The way to raise people from poverty is through education and by learning trades that are applicable to today’s ever-changing markets. Hard work, dedication, discipline and drive are still the ingredients needed to climb from poverty today. The greater question is do people today still possess those ingredients?