House Republicans have one last chance to demonstrate that they have any remaining intelligence or principles. On June 13, the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour over the next three years. This bill, with the support of seven Republicans on the committee, would implement one of the highest priorities of the congressional Democratic leadership.
An increase in the minimum wage is one of the dumbest possible policies for the following reasons:
- The employment of the least-skilled members of the labor force—often new entrants—would be reduced.
- The non-wage benefits and working conditions of those who keep their jobs at the higher wage would probably be reduced.
- Most of those who keep their jobs at the higher wage would be secondary workers in non-poor families.
An increase in the minimum wage has long been a symbolic issue for the Democrats, however inconsistent with their other professed political values. House Republicans should challenge the Democrats on this issue, pointing out that an increase in the minimum wage would most hurt those that they claim to help. To do this, the House Republicans should split off the minimum wage provision from the appropriation bill, allow a separate floor vote on this provision, and demonstrate the absurdity of this proposal by a defeating this measure by a large margin. I’m waiting for a demonstration of good sense, in part, to determine whether there is any remaining reason to favor a Republican majority in the House.