$15/Hour Hurts, Not Helps

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

Recently, Democrat lawmakers reintroduced the “Raise the Wage Act”, a failed economic experiment costing hard-working Americans jobs at an alarming rate. Instead of providing common-sense measures and targeted assistance to Arizona families hit hardest by the COVID lockdowns, Democrat lawmakers are proceeding with a federal $15 minimum wage that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates in a nonpartisan study will cost 1.4 million jobs in an already struggling economy. The Senate seems unlikely to pass this disastrous measure, and even centrist Democrats are seeing the futility, although Jen Psaki claims Biden is “firmly committed” to increasing.

The $15 minimum wage is especially burdensome to Arizonans entering the workforce for the first time. The overwhelming majority of economic research shows that a $15 minimum wage disproportionately harms low-skill employment and female workers. It would also add $54 billion to our federal deficit, because of the increased expense in goods and services, and the added expense of unemployment insurance to all those who would be out of a job.

If that weren’t enough, the Biden administration (as executive overreach does) also snuck the $15 minimum wage into the $1.9 trillion COVID bill “American Rescue Plan”, hoping the average American wouldn't notice it. We did.

And it doesn’t stop there. There’s something nobody seems to be taking into account- and that’s the impact of this wage hike on education. Arizona educators bear an unfair financial burden in all of this. A recent conversation with Safford Unified School District’s Assistant Superintendent Kent Baldwin illustrated the growing divide between Washington Wish-think and the reality on the ground. During his time in academia, Baldwin has seen raise increases from $10 to $12.50 an hour in the minimum wage, and now with the threat looming of a $15 minimum, he worries many school districts won’t be able to afford the help they need. Although they are increasing minimum wage, they haven’t increased education budgets accordingly to account for this increased expense.

“We aren’t in the red for poor management of our money. We are simply expected to get the same work done now, even if it’s costing us more,” states Tad Jacobsen, Assistant Principal at Safford High. That’s an economic impossibility.

Democrats are working to pass the $1.9 trillion stimulus through a process known as “budget reconciliation”, a procedure that allows them to bypass the 60 Senate votes needed to pass the bill, including the $15 minimum wage hike. However, by legislating this way, they must abide by Byrd’s Rule, which requires that the bill limit those items that directly affect the federal budget without adding to the deficit or cutting revenues. The CBO report makes it very hard for them to do this, and they may have to work with the Republicans in Congress the old-fashioned way. This may also require them to abide by the Constitutional limits, where spending and legislation originates in the Congress, and not with an executive order in the White House, something that undoubtedly ruffles a few of President Biden’s feathers. However the realities of economics may spoil their plan before governmental overreach is even a possibility.

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