Harry Reid politicizes minimum-wage workers

Katherine Rosario Communications Deputy, Heritage Action
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Anticipation is a powerful feeling. Politicians know they can use it to their advantage.  On a very basic human level, there is often more joy (or terror) felt in anticipating an event — from holidays, to birthdays, to graduations, to elections, to death — than is experienced in the event itself.

Folks in marketing know this, too. And from the looks of it, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has been doing his marketing homework (a savvy idea in an election year).

For the better part of 2014, he has drawn out a promise to have a vote in the Senate on increasing the federally mandated minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. The long awaited move is supposedly coming next week.

As one marketing consultant puts it, “whatever the good news, “talking it up” in advance creates the anticipation you need to attract media attention, capture buyers imaginations, and even interest investors.”

Harry Reid’s “good news” is raising the minimum wage via a proposal offered by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).

Ignore the fact that such an unprecedented increase would effectively cut off the bottom rung of the economic ladder for hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers. Ignore the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report from February estimating the proposed minimum wage hike would eliminate 500,000 jobs.

Reid’s sure ignoring it. “This raise only gets people out of poverty, that’s all it does,” Reid suggested earlier this month.

But a look at what Harry Reid has done in 2014 suggests the months-long delay is more about building election-year anticipation for the Democrats to “raise people out of poverty” than actually enacting economically sound policies.

Since the beginning of 2014, the Senate has been in recess for 27 days, not counting weekends.  On those days, it apparently wasn’t Mr. Reid’s priority to work toward a bill that “gets people out of poverty.”

When the upper chamber was in D.C. working, there were a number of legislative items to which Sen. Reid gave precedence over a vote on the minimum wage.

Among them are: extending unemployment insurance (here, here, here, here, here, here); undoing flood insurance reforms (here); passing the food stamp and farm welfare bill (here); military retirement (here); a veterans’ bill (here); reauthorizing the Child Care Development Block Grant federal daycare program (here, here); the Victims Protection Act of 2014 (here); the doc fix (here); tying IMF “reforms” to Ukraine aid; and pandering to women voters with the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Reid has not chastised his fellow Democrats, who have been divided on the issue themselves. Sen. Harkin has offered three minimum wage bills during the 113th Congress, for which he’s obtained 33, 39, and 34 cosponsors respectively from the Senate’s 55 Democrats.

Instead, since the beginning of the year, Reid has been blaming Republicans for obstructing the long-awaited vote. In January, he was on CBS’s “Face the Nation” blaming Republicans for all the things that were not going to get done in 2014. Slate’s John Dickerson conjectured at the time that Reid “threw the first punch” to “duck the subject [Democrats] like least” — Obamacare.

Sen. Harkin is singing the same tune as Sen. Reid, as National Journal reports:

“If we don’t get 60 votes on the first [minimum wage] vote we’ll continue to come back again and again,” Harkin pledged. “We’re not just going to have one vote and walk away from it. It’s much too important for that.”

Can’t you just feel the suspense?

It seems that Democrats are milking the minimum wage cow as long as they can this election year.