In endorsing an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 (“Minimum Distraction: On Balance, a Higher Wage Is Better for America,” Feb. 27 editorial) the Post-Gazette affirms the findings of the Congressional Budget Office that such an increase would directly benefit 16.5 million Americans, indirectly raise the incomes of another 8 million who now earn just above that amount and lift 900,000 out of poverty. Government spending for food stamps and similar programs would decline and, overall, national income would increase.
Despite all these benefits, Sen. Pat Toomey, his fellow Republicans and their Tea Party allies oppose the increase, focusing only on the CBO’s finding that the higher minimum wage may reduce employment by 500,000 (2 percent of the 24.5 million benefiting from the increase). However, the bulk of economic analyses in recent years show that even these modest losses are overstated.
In 2012, Mitt Romney maligned food stamp recipients as “takers.” However, the real takers are those employers of minimum-wage workers who get the benefit of the labor but rely on the government and taxpayers to supplement their workers’ poverty-level income with food stamps and Medicaid.
More broadly, opposition to increasing the minimum wage is unfortunately consistent with other Toomey-supported efforts to cut food stamps, Medicaid and unemployment benefits in the callous belief that such cuts will incentivize low-income workers to work harder.
Republicans often use the libertarian fantasies of Ayn Rand’s novels to justify unconstrained greed. However, a far more realistic novelization of the impact of unrelenting efforts to drive down wages is John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”