Business groups are continuing their fight against minimum wage increases even as some Republicans are starting to stray.
On Monday, former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum said on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd” that the mainstream Republican stance on the minimum wage “makes no sense,” referring to the GOP’s disapproval of legislation to hike the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.
“I don’t understand,” Santorum said. “This is one I don’t get. If the Republicans want to go out and say, ‘We’re against the minimum wage,’ then go out and make the argument to the American public and 80-some percent of the American public believes we should have the minimum wage. But they’re making arguments about why we shouldn’t have any increase.”
Agreeing with recent statements from fellow Republican, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Santorum argued that the GOP’s blatant opposition to raising the minimum wage ran contrary to their allegiance to middle-class America.
“Let’s not make this argument that we’re for the blue collar guy but we’re against any minimum wage hike ever,” he told Chuck Todd on MSNBC. Santorum sought the 2012 GOP presidential nomination and may run again in 2016.
But looking out for the interests of middle income earners and low wage earners is exactly what Republicans say they are doing when they counter minimum wage initiatives.
The GOP points to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that if lawmakers passed a $10.10 hourly minimum wage, around 500,000 jobs would disappear from the labor market.
Aloysius Hogan, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, warns that these jobs will likely be lost by minorities, women, and youth — the very demographics Democrats have promised to help.
He told The Daily Caller News Foundation that these workers tend to be lower skilled and they will be the first to go when employers are burdened with excessive payroll costs.
Union members, on the other hand, will benefit from the increase because they tend to be higher skilled and employers will choose them over their lower skilled counterparts, says Aloysius.
Recently, the National Federation of Independent Business — an organization representing the interests of small business owners — sent senators on the Hill a letter asking them to vote against “job killing” legislation to raise the minimum wage.
NFIB explained that hiking wages to $10.10 would put an undue burden on small businesses that were already struggling to stay afloat. The organization warned that a significant increase in payroll costs would likely result in lost jobs/reduced hours for low wage earners or higher prices for consumers.
Since the President Obama called on Congress and state governments to ‘give America a raise’ during his 2014 State of the Union address, Democrats have made the minimum wage a crux of their platform for the 2014 election cycle.
While efforts to pass minimum wage legislation on the Hill have not made it past either chamber, a slew of states and municipalities have hiked their mandated hourly wages since the start of the year.
Currently, 25 states plus the District of Columbia have minimum wages that exceed the mandated federal standard.
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