Democrats believe they’ve hit on the perfect issue to distract from the horror of Obamacare in the 2014 elections: the minimum wage.
Apparently, increasing the minimum wage was not important for American workers during the first five years of Obama’s presidency — least of all his first two years, when Democrats controlled Congress and could have passed anything. (And did!)
No. The minimum wage did not become a pressing concern until an election year in which the public’s hatred of Obamacare is expected to be the central issue.
As the New York Times explained, Democrats see the minimum wage as an issue that “will place Republican candidates in a difficult position,” and also as a tool “to enlarge the electorate in a nonpresidential election, when turnout among minorities and youths typically drops off.”
(Unlike Republicans, Democrats consider it important to win elections.)
To most people, it seems as if the Democrats are giving workers something for nothing. But there are always tradeoffs. No serious economist denies that increasing the minimum wage will cost jobs. If it’s not worth paying someone $10 an hour to do something, the job will be eliminated — or it simply won’t be created.
The minimum wage is the perfect Democratic issue. It will screw the very people it claims to help, while making Democrats look like saviors of the working class, either by getting them a higher wage or providing them with generous government benefits when they lose their jobs because of the mandatory wage hike.
Of course, the reason American workers’ wages are so low in the first place is because of the Democrats’ policies on immigration. Republicans might want to point that out.
Since the late 1960s, the Democrats have been dumping about a million low-skilled immigrants on the country every year, driving down wages, especially at the lower end of the spectrum.
According to Harvard economist Jorge Borjas, our immigration policies have reduced American wages by $402 billion a year — while increasing profits for employers by $437 billion a year. (That’s minus what they have to pay to the government in taxes to support their out-of-work former employees. Of course, we’re all forced to share that tax burden.)
Or, as the White House puts it on its website promoting an increase in the minimum wage, “Today, the real value of the minimum wage has fallen by nearly one-third since its peak in 1968.”
Why were wages so high until 1968? Because that’s when Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act kicked in, bringing in about a million immigrants a year, almost 90 percent of them unskilled workers from the Third World.
Our immigration policies massively redistribute wealth from the poorest Americans to the richest. It’s a basic law of economics that when the supply goes up, the price goes down. More workers means the price of their labor plummets.
Unfortunately, politicians spend a lot more time talking to rich employers than to working-class Americans. And the rich apparently have an insatiable appetite for cheap labor.