Since Republicans Have No Ideas To Raise Wages, I Will Give Them Some

Bill Scher

Over at The New Republic, Danny Vinik notes that the Republicans are attacking President Obama’s approach for raising incomes with a higher minimum wage, ostensibly for fear of job losses. Yet Republicans refuse to coalesce around any alternatives for either raising wages or creating jobs.

It can make one think they don’t really care.

Yet Republicans actually have a long history of acquiescing on raising the minimum wage, once it is paired with tax breaks for small business to help mitigate any disincentive to reduce payrolls. But the new bipartisan budget caps don’t leave a lot of wiggle room, and the new Congressional Budget Office report gives Republican fresh cover to hold out.

Still, Republicans typically cave because raising the minimum wage is always popular. And despite the recent headlines, a wage hike will still likely be popular. As the CBO report also notes, a $10.10 minimum wage would lift the incomes of 16.5 million people, far more than those only earning the minimum. And a $9.00 minimum would boost pay for 7.6 million. That’s money in the bank versus a mere projection of a possible 500,000 reduction of jobs with a $10.10 minimum, 100,000 with a $9.00 minimum.

Lots of sure winners versus not so many sure losers. And there’s plenty that could be done to eliminate the possibility of any losers.

If Republicans don’t seem to know what they could propose, I’m happy to help out.

Anything that’s going to create jobs, whether it’s tax cuts or new spending, will cost the Treasury money. So the first thing to figure out is how we can loosen up that new budget cap.

Oh look over here! It’s a Senate immigration reform bill that cuts the deficit $158 billion over 10 years.

Even if Boehner wants to enact immigration reform through a piecemeal approach, there’s no reason why he couldn’t match those cost savings.

Once we have $158 billion on the table, there are all sort of things we can do. Throw in some business tax cuts similar to the $600 million of cuts that greased the 2007 minimum wage hike. Tack on a $10 billion infrastructure bank, backed by the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Hey, I still have $147 billion to play with! Let’s take care of the long-term unemployment insurance problem; that’s only $17 billion for the year. Let’s supercharge Ronald Reagan’s earned income tax credit to boost wages of the working poor (instead of weakening it like Sen. Marco Rubio proposes). Let’s take conservative Michael Strain’s idea for subsidizing the moving costs for people who take jobs in different states.

I’m pretty sure I still have enough left over to fund President Obama’s $75 billion universal preschool plan.

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