Bush, Republicans Remain Disingenuous On Raising Minimum Wage
President Bush and Congressional Republicans continue to disingenuously discuss hiking the minimum wage.
The headlines today are misleading. "Bush Supports Democrats' Minimum Wage Hike Plan," reads the Washington Post. But in truth, Bush only will support such a hike -- from $5.15/hour to $7.25/hour -- if it comes with a corresponding tax break for small businesses.
It's not much different that the effort from Congressional conservatives this summer to tie a hike in the minimum wage with deep cuts in the estate tax.
Democrats should reject the conservative spin. Once they control Congress, they should "fast track" a hike in the minimum wage. The legislation should pass quickly. Then let President Bush look like Ebenezer Scrooge as he decides whether to be a "compassionate conservative" just once in his presidency.
The conservative spin is that government should help both rich and poor. The truth is that deep tax cuts under the Bush Administration have overwhelmingly benefited the well-to-do.
It's amazing that conservatives spin that they are champions of "family values," when their record over the past six years is so incredibly lopsided. While the Bush tax cuts have provided an average tax cut of nearly $124,000 for families earning over $1 million, and just $647 for "middle-income families."
Meanwhile, the tax cuts haven't helped the poorest among us -- with the exception of those with hefty child-care bills -- because the cuts provide no relief to low-income families who don't owe income taxes, but pay payroll taxes. Furthermore, in 2003 Bush successfully pushed the Republican-controlled Congress to accelerate most income tax cuts enacted in 2001, rather than have them phase in. But that acceleration didn't include the child tax credit provision enacted in 2001 -- which most benefits low-income families.
Conservative television pundits and radio ranters like to spin about the values of "limousine liberals." But what can we say about "corporate jet" conservatives, who only care about helping the very wealthy?
If Bush were truly a "compassionate conservative," he would understand that working full-time at minimum wage means an annual income of $10,712, or $8,000 less than what the government defines as poverty. In other words, a person would have to essentially work two full-time jobs, or for two-adult households, have both work full-time jobs, just to be above the poverty line.
The other conservative objection to raising the minimum wage is that it might hurt job growth, or kill jobs altogether. It's a myth.
A March 2006 report by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that increasing the minimum wage actually helps job growth: "[T]his report examined recent state-by-state trends for small businesses employing fewer than 50 workers and found that employment and payrolls in small businesses grew faster in the states with minimum wages above the federal level than in the remaining states where the $5.15 an hour federal minimum wage prevailed. ... This report also found that total job growth was faster in the higher minimum wage states. Faster job growth also occurred in the retail trade sector, the sector of the economy employing the most workers at low wages, in the higher minimum wage states."