Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the left has seized the opportunity to strategize on bundling unrelated reforms with proposed policy and bills.
For instance, the 5,000-page (proposed) stimulus bill in December of last year included millions of dollars in funding to countries such as Cambodia, Egypt and Nepal, proposed $1 billion to be allocated for the Smithsonian Museum, and $25 million for gender and social programming in Pakistan. It also offered $154 million for the National Gallery of Art.
On Thursday, Jan. 14, then-President-elect Joe Biden cited a “moral obligation” when referring to his newly proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus bill. If you thought the $900 billion December package included a whole swath of unnecessary provisions, it is clear that this new plan wins the contest. Mr. Biden’s proposal includes 14 weeks of paid sick and family leave via taxpayer funding, $4,000 per child for those making under $125,000 per year, a tremendous increase in food stamp benefits, $350 billion for local, state and tribal governments, and several other allocations.
But most notably of all, the new package proposes an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“There should be a national minimum wage of $15 an hour. Nobody working 40 hours a week should be living below the poverty line. Florida just passed it, as divided as that state is, they just passed it. The rest of the country is ready to move as well,” Mr. Biden said.
While Mr. Biden is correct that Florida has raised its minimum wage, the number is nearly half of his inflation scheme at $15. The state of Florida increased from $8.56 an hour to $8.65 an hour — which will gradually increase incrementally to $15 on Sept. 30, 2026. Florida is also a booming (red) state with less economic sanctions and restrictions, and not representative of the majority of the country.
The Biden administration offered this sentiment:
“Hard-working Americans deserve sufficient wages to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, without having to keep multiple jobs. But millions of working families are struggling to get by.”
Actually, President Biden’s team is correct in both of these assertions. But the administration fundamentally fails to diagnose the causation of the issue, as well as the proper remedy.
Government lockdowns have utterly ruined the lives of hardworking Americans. These mandates have ruthlessly forced business owners and customers to stay home, being incentivized by welfare in an endless loop. According to a peer-reviewed study by Canadian Ari Joffe, lockdowns cause a striking 10 times more economic and well-being harm than good. His research found that food insecurity worldwide increased by 82 million-132 million people and severe poverty by 70 million people: all because of lockdowns initiated by the bureaucratic thirst for power.
Now, Mr. Biden wants to stoke a burning fire, forcing employers to subsidize workers with money they do not have because of lockdowns. He thus overlooks the legitimate issue.
As noted by opinion editor Brad Polumbo in the Foundation for Economic Education, “Despite ostensibly being a COVID-19 relief bill, Mr. Biden’s proposal largely ignores the root cause of our economic distress: government lockdowns and restrictions on the economy. Major economic centers like California and New York remain in large part locked down, with businesses shut down and people largely confined to their homes.”
As also referenced by Mr. Polumbo, The Congressional Budget Office projected in 2019 that a $15 federal minimum wage would eliminate roughly 1.3 million-3.7 million, compared to significantly less drawbacks with a $12 or $10 option.
Mr. Biden alluded to states like Florida, Massachusetts, California and Florida in his speech to justify why wages everywhere must be expanded. This is a foolish and false equivalency. The United States is a vast, sprawling and economically diverse climate. The cost of living in say Louisiana is 39% cheaper than in New York. Transportation alone is more than one half cheaper. In Alabama, the reported positive net change of disposable income for residents is $16,165.1 compared to in New York city. No two states are the same, but the left has never truly grasped this.
For one, this is a diminutive way of indicating how ridiculous a one-size fits all approach is in every state. This is a classic example of the left exhibiting just how out of touch they truly are with the country — by and through proposing more centralized government, when people are getting hit the hardest by this very government.
A $15 an hour minimum wage may sound nice and well — but it will censoriously uproot businesses from the core. A recent study found that the U.S. ranks highest in number of startups — at 65,703. This is an incredible statistic. To put this in perspective, this is three times higher than India, U.K., Canada, Indonesia, Germany, Australia, France, Spain and Brazil combined.
If the Biden administration moves forward with a $15 minimum wage, how will young Americans start their businesses? How will recent grads employ any staff when they have to starve to do so? They will inevitably face significant barriers, hampered by bureaucratic rule.
A $15 minimum wage is an inflation nightmare. We live in a nation that allows for innovation and experimentation. Or at its essence, rightly should foster such enterprise. This is nothing new from the left, as the Democrats try to furnish positive rights, at the expense of our inalienable negative ones.
Let the American people decide how much their fellow citizen is worth: not the imprudent elites in the swamp, ‘Scranton’ Joe.
• Gabe Kaminsky (@Gabe__Kaminsky) is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh and a forthcoming spring intern at The Federalist. Gkaminskycontact@gmail.com.