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Thursday, October 20, 2005

You'll take your $5.15, and you'll like it. Congress once again decides that the minimum wage is really far too generous as it is.
WASHINGTON - Senate proposals to raise the minimum wage were rejected Wednesday, making it unlikely that the lowest allowable wage, $5.15 an hour since 1997, will rise in the foreseeable future.

A labor-backed measure by Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record) would have raised the minimum to $6.25 over an 18-month period. A Republican counterproposal would have combined the same $1.10 increase with various breaks and exemptions for small businesses.
Republican opponents, echoing the arguments of business groups, said higher minimum wages can work against the poor if they force small businesses to cut payrolls or go out of business.

"Mandated hikes in the minimum wage do not cure poverty and they clearly do not create jobs," said Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who offered the Republican alternative.
Oh, Mike Enzi, you're just too cute. True, raising the minimum wage won't cure poverty. No single piece of legislation will. But rising wages will lift some out of poverty, though even a stingy increase of $1.10 will still be insufficient. A raise of $1.10 would amount to $2288 more per year, still leaving a family of three at 15% below the poverty line, and a family of four at 30% below the poverty line.

Enzi is correct in noting that raising the minimum wage does not necessarily create jobs across the board; however, it is linked to increased employment among non-white women, and there is no evidence to suggest that raising the minimum wage leads to job loss. As for the talking point that raising the minimum wage will hurt small businesses, there's just no solid evidence to support that.

But the poor don't pay much federal income tax, right? And living on the edge must be exciting. Lucky duckies!

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