March 21

President Obama and the Democrats are making an election year issue out of the minimum wage. Obviously, they want to avoid talking about Obamacare specifically and the Obama economy generally. Some in the mainstream media are promoting Obama’s futile plan to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, and sometimes Republicans take the bait and talk too much.  Without a clear plan of their own, Republicans are just the party of “no.”

The American Action Forum, led by former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, analyzed minimum wage data and found that if a new federal minimum wage of $9 an hour were imposed, it would cost us almost 1.4 million new jobs. The higher minimum wage would result in a decrease in the net job growth rate across the country. That’s consistent with common sense. If you raise the price of labor, especially while our economy is so fragile, there will be less labor.

And a survey released on March 19 by Express Employment Professionals, one of the nation’s largest privately held staffing firm, showcases an inconvenient truth for Democrats: raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would “result in layoffs, reduced hiring, and higher prices at a large chunk of American companies.”  The survey found that among employers who currently pay their employees the minimum wage, 38 percent said they would have to fire some employees, 54 percent said they would curtail new hiring and 65 percent said they would raise prices on the goods and services they offer to cover the extra costs. There is no doubt that raising the minimum wage would diminish the number of jobs in the near-term. Obviously, we should not do anything that reduces the number of jobs. Period.

In politics, as we know, a bumper sticker beats an essay. In this case, the Democrats have the bumper sticker. And while the Republican essay is compelling and honest, it’s still an essay.

There is nothing Republicans can do to avoid some negative fallout for opposing a minimum wage hike, but a little Republican creativity would be useful right now. Republicans can’t just say we want higher paying jobs as a way to avoid talking about minimum wage jobs. Without a plan of their own, Republicans are just trying to bluff, hoping no one notices. Well, it’s too late for that. The other side is scoring points.

Follow Ed on Twitter: @EdRogersDC

 

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.