Cline versus a decent minimum wage

In the latest edition of his weekly newsletter, Congressman Cline writes:

The Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour across the entire United States. I inquired about the effect such a mandate would have on unemployment rates and inflation rates on the costs of certain goods. I suggested that the decision about whether and how much to raise the minimum wage in states like Virginia should be left to the states to determine.

Cline was referring to the Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.

Writing in The Atlantic, James Kwak noted:

Looking at historical experience, there is no obvious relationship between the minimum wage and unemployment: adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum was highest from 1967 through 1969, when the unemployment rate was below 4 percent—a historically low level.

And low-wage workers are the victims of inflation, not the cause of it.

America’s lowest-paid workers have lost nearly a full year’s pay since Congress last raised the federal minimum wage a decade ago. Every day, these workers’ losses continue to mount. Inflation has steadily eroded their pay, and as a result, a full-time, year-round worker earning $7.25 per hour will take an effective pay cut of $2,578 this year alone. Over the past 10 years, lawmakers’ refusal to act has cost America’s lowest-paid workers a total of nearly $13,330—just shy of the $15,080 that a full-time worker earning $7.25 per hour takes home annually.

But what’s hardest to take is Cline’s position that the minimum wage should be left to states like Virginia, which currently pegs its minimum wage to the federal level of $7.25 an hour– a poverty income that requires workers and their families to depend on food stamps, Medicaid and other programs that Cline wants to slash.

As a member of the House of Delegates in 2015, Cline joined with other Republicans on the Commerce and Labor Committee to kill a bill that would have increased Virginia’s minimum wage to a modest $10 an hour by 2017.

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