Thursday, June 29, 2006

Katherine Harris is right!

As Republicans have made moves to kill minimum wage hikes recently, they've used the same old sorry tactics: Saying it will destroy businesses and that Democrats just want more big government.
Business groups fiercely oppose a federally mandated wage increase, saying it would drive up the cost of employing low-skilled workers, resulting in less job creation.

"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-Ga.
The problem is, this isn't an issue of what "government" thinks. This is an issue in which the people believe. And I mean all people.
An April survey by the Pew Research Center shows 83 percent of the public favors raising the minimum wage by $2. That figure includes 72 percent of Republicans, and 76 percent of people with household incomes of $75,000 or higher.
But, is there anything to their argument that businesses hurt when wages go up, after all, Katherine Harris is running for Senate on the idea that her Republican-led home state of Florida is doing very well, economically.
According to Harris, Florida is a state on the right track.

"We are the envy of every state in the nation," Harris said. "We have the lowest unemployment rate and the highest job creation."
Harris is right. Florida is kicking economic ass.

What Harris won't mention is that this fact proves Republicans wrong. In November 2004, the citizens of Florida banded together and passed an amendment to the state's consitution, drafted by fellow blogger Nathan Newman, raising the minimum wage and pegging future increases to the Consumer Price Index.

This amendment didn't just pass. It passed by more than 71 percent. The people—not just Democrats—had spoken and, by God, the people were right. (PDF link)
The Florida Retail Federation claimed that "Jobs will be lost – devastating our strong economy." Rick McAllister of the Retail Federation claimed a state minimum wage "could have a billion-dollar inflationary effect on the state of Florida." The Orlando Chamber of Commerce predicted that the new minimum wage would lead to outsourcing, "many good Florida jobs will be shipped over seas", and even cautioned that more "lawsuits will result. The amendment will create new opportunities for trial lawyers to make money by suing businesses."

Some public officials actively opposed the measure. Senator Mel Martinez claimed the law would cause job loss, and Governor Jeb Bush also opposed it. Darrell Kelley, president of Enterprise Florida, claimed the raise could result in a decline in health benefits coverage. Finally, national opponents chimed in. Grover Norquist claimed that "Florida cannot afford the economic pain of job losses compounded with the inevitable increases in the costs of essential goods and services."

[snip]…One year after the Florida state minimum wage took effect, there is no evidence to support the dire predictions levied by critics of the measure. Far from having a devastated economy, Florida continues to experience record job growth. Instead of businesses leaving the state, the number of private employers in Florida has grown substantially in the past year, and the state is a national leader in the insourcing of jobs from overseas. Far from workers losing their jobs and being worse off, more of them are working and wages across the state have risen. However, far from wages rising sharply across the pay scale, Florida continues to be a low-wage state, and many workers have a hard time supporting their families on what they earn, even with the new state minimum wage. All available data suggest that the critics of the state minimum wage were wrong about the law's effects.
So, remember to point out to Republicans that when they try to override the vast majority of Americans' wishes, they are acting as if they know better and they are the government. And the people have proven them wrong.


Blogger Internet Esquire said...

How would you respond to the position that an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a much more effective and equitable way of helping the working poor than raising the minimum wage?

12:22 PM  

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