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Politics The $15 minimum wage could be the first major test of Democratic unity

15:45  22 february  2021
15:45  22 february  2021 Source:   vox.com

$15 minimum wage debate: Everything you need to know

  $15 minimum wage debate: Everything you need to know House Democrats have included a minimum wage hike in their latest Covid relief bill, although opposition among some Senate Democrats means it is not at all clear they will have the votes to pass it. © Scott Olson/Getty Images Demonstrators participate in a protest outside of McDonald's corporate headquarters on January 15, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. Improving worker pay is unrelated in that raising the minimum wage has long been a Democratic priority.

a man wearing sunglasses: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), one of the Democrats who has expressed his opposition to the $15 minimum wage, enters the Senate with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). © Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), one of the Democrats who has expressed his opposition to the $15 minimum wage, enters the Senate with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

Once the Covid-19 relief bill heads to the Senate, the $15 minimum wage will face two big tests: one procedural, and one political.

On the procedural front, Democrats need to convince the Senate parliamentarian — an in-house expert who advises on the rules of the upper chamber — that the $15 minimum wage has a significant enough effect on the budget that it can be part of the reconciliation process. Because of a practice known as the Byrd Rule, any policy that’s not seen as sufficiently budget-related can be flagged for removal by the parliamentarian. (Democrats don’t have to abide by this decision, but there have been few breaks with such guidance in the past.)

Tom Cotton, Mitt Romney's $10 Minimum Wage Plan Criticized for Being Less than Arkansas' $11

  Tom Cotton, Mitt Romney's $10 Minimum Wage Plan Criticized for Being Less than Arkansas' $11 "Incrementally increasing a pitiful 7.25 wage to $10 over 5 yrs is a cruel joke. Poverty cannot be overcome just by $2.75/hour more," Democratic Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib wrote.The GOP plan, entitled the Higher Wages for American Workers Act, would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour by 2025. The plan would also require employers to phase in the use of the federal E-Verify system to ensure that only documented laborers, and not undocumented immigrants, are hired. Lastly, the plan would provide stiffer penalties to employers who hire undocumented workers.

“We think we have a strong argument on the minimum wage being a real whole-of-government policy that touches a range of budget areas,” a Democratic aide tells Vox.

Beyond the procedural question it poses, the $15 minimum wage push could soon be the first big test of party unity as well.

With just 50 votes to work with to pass this bill, Democrats need every single member onboard in order to reach the simple majority threshold required for the budget measure. Already, however, statements by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have thrown the likelihood of such consensus into doubt when it comes to the wage increase.

“I’m supportive of basically having something that’s responsible and reasonable,” Manchin has told The Hill, while noting that he does not back a $15 minimum wage.

The problem with a one-size-fits-all federal minimum wage hike

  The problem with a one-size-fits-all federal minimum wage hike Minimum wages are not a free good. They have tradeoffs. While politicians might not pay much mind to such economic arguments, they are well aware of the regional differences among their constituents. If they listen, they should reject a one-size-fits-all federal minimum wage hike and, instead, let cities and states make decisions that best suit the people in their communities.Ryan Young is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of the study "Minimum Wages Have Tradeoffs.

For now, Democrats are just trying to overcome the process challenge and deal with their internal conflicts later.

As the House votes on its version of the relief bill this week — both parties have a chance to present their final arguments to the Senate parliamentarian in a practice called the “Byrd bath.” Upon hearing their respective cases, the parliamentarian — Elizabeth MacDonough — will determine what can be included in the legislation and what needs to be removed. As soon as mid-week, MacDonough could reach a decision about the minimum wage.

Then, the political pressure ramps up: If MacDonough greenlights the measure, Democrats will need to navigate the dissent within their caucus to get it passed. If she doesn’t, they’ll have to decide if they’re willing to ignore her ruling and move ahead with it anyway. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer thus far has kept the focus squarely on immediate next steps.

Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton just abandoned fiscal conservatism

  Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton just abandoned fiscal conservatism Author Michael Malice famously said that “conservatism is just progressivism driving the speed limit.” The latest big government stunt from two prominent Republican senators certainly supports this claim. © Provided by Washington Examiner Sens. Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney announced on Tuesday their intention to introduce legislation hiking the federal minimum wage and enacting mandatory E-Verify requirements in an effort to curb the employment of illegal immigrants. You can be forgiven for wondering what distinguishes this proposal (at least, on the minimum wage part) from something out of Sen.

“We’re trying to work as well as we can with the parliamentarian to get minimum wage to happen, that’s all I’m going to say,” Schumer noted at a recent press conference. After her decision comes through, however, Democrats will have to wrestle with their own divides on the matter.

The first step is getting the bill past the parliamentarian

Democrats are in the process of making their case to the parliamentarian — and they’ve emphasized that their first priority is getting the legislation past this hurdle: MacDonough’s decision, expected this week, could play a critical role in determining what the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill contains.

Democrats have prepared several arguments — and they think there are strong grounds for inclusion of the minimum wage, according to two aides.

For one, the recent report from the Congressional Budget Office highlights exactly how the Raise the Wage Act, legislation which would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 over the course of five years, would have a direct effect on the budget. That CBO report found that the measure would increase the budget deficit by $54 billion within ten years, and that it would alter government spending on social safety net programs like food aid, since fewer people would be using them if they had higher wages. As noted in the bill, additional increases to the minimum wage would be pegged to gains in the median wage after the fifth year, in order to keep pace with inflation.

Minimum wage increase could work under Biden’s stimulus, CBO reports

  Minimum wage increase could work under Biden’s stimulus, CBO reports Sen. Bernie Sanders is fighting to include the minimum wage increase in the package Democrats are crafting to enact President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. Under the fast-tracked budget process Democrats could use to clear the aid package with just 51 votes in the Senate, the bill must have a direct and substantial impact on federal spending, revenues or the debt. So the Congressional Budget Office score is a boon for Democrats fighting for the minimum wage hike to be included, even as Biden casts doubt on whether it would past muster under Senate rules for the reconciliation process.

To gain parliamentarian approval, Democrats will have to show that the proposal’s impact on taxing and spending is not “merely incidental” to the implementation of the policy. And aides see this report — which found that wage changes would also affect tax revenues — as important proof of that.

“The CBO has demonstrated that increasing the minimum wage would have a direct and substantial impact on the federal budget,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said in a recent statement. “What that means is that we can clearly raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour under the rules of reconciliation.”


Gallery: The Highest- and Lowest-Paying Positions in Congress (GOBankingRates)

a close up of a yellow building: Fortunately, the impeachment inquiry and vote likely didn’t cost any more than the usual congressional business. Given that Congress is on a salary and its facilities are owned by the government, the money spent handling the inquiry would have been used elsewhere anyway. So, in terms of additional costs to American taxpayers, it’s essentially zero — you’re already paying for Congress’ time, one way or the other. But if you’re of the opinion that the entire process has just been a case of partisan bickering, it’s an argument for determining exactly how much members of Congress and their staffers were paid for the hours they spent on impeaching Trump. Assuming those hours would have otherwise been spent on important, productive business essential to the prosperity of the American people, you could say that the wages paid during the impeachment hearing were a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Democrats also intend to draw a comparison between the changes to the minimum wage and the zeroing-out of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. In 2017, when Republicans used reconciliation to pass major corporate tax cuts, they also eliminated the individual mandate — or penalty for not having health insurance — by reducing it to $0. The logic behind the increase to the minimum wage is similar, an aide explained.

“Republicans were able to dial this [individual mandate] penalty down to zero,” the aide said. “We are not creating a federal minimum wage, we are dialing the wage up.”

Left-wingers target $15 minimum wage foes Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin

  Left-wingers target $15 minimum wage foes Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin Left-wing activists are targeting Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona with a pressure campaign over their opposition to a $15 federal minimum wage in the coronavirus relief package. © Provided by Washington Examiner Manchin and Sinema, two of the most centrist Democrats in the Senate, have each stated their opposition to the $15 minimum wage proposal that is currently included in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending bill moving through Congress.

They’ll also point to past uses of reconciliation which had less budgetary effects than the proposed minimum wage increase, such as the establishment of a program for drilling in the Arctic in 2017. “Increasing the minimum wage would affect more budget functions than ... the [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] provisions would,” the CBO concluded in a letter.

Republicans, meanwhile, are expected to emphasize the constraints of the Senate’s reconciliation process — and highlight how increases to the minimum wage would only have a tertiary effect on the budget, a concern some Democrats have voiced, too.

President Joe Biden, for instance, is among those raising similar questions. “I put [the minimum wage] in, but I don’t think it’s going to survive,” he told CBS News in early February, citing the limitations of the Senate rules. He reiterated this position in a recent conversation with governors and mayors, when he warned them that the measure would likely be tabled.

Experts note that the lack of precedent for the use of reconciliation on minimum wage changes make this question a truly untested one. “Would the minimum wage increase fall prey to the incidental test? No one yet knows,” says George Washington University political science professor Sarah Binder.

The $15 minimum wage is also a political test for Democrats

Democrats face a political test regardless of what the parliamentarian ends up deciding.

If the parliamentarian determines that the minimum wage can’t be included in the bill, then Democrats have the option of ignoring this decision — and forging ahead regardless. It’s a path that’s backed by some progressives, which is likely to face resistance from moderates in the party.

Protesters Target Joe Manchin Over $15 Minimum Wage Opposition

  Protesters Target Joe Manchin Over $15 Minimum Wage Opposition The Democratic senator could block the minimum wage increase in a vote on the next COVID relief bill.The Poor People's Campaign announced last week that it would hold a socially distanced rally outside the West Virginia Democrat's state office, alongside an online rally, demanding that the next COVID-19 relief package increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“The parliamentarian doesn’t rule. She gives advice. If Democrats want to ignore advice that the minimum increase violates the Byrd rule, then they would go ahead and include it in the bill,” says Binder. After the minimum wage provision is included, any senator is then able to challenge it when the bill hits the floor, and Vice President Kamala Harris, or whoever is presiding, is able to overrule that challenge. If 60 lawmakers don’t vote to push back on this decision, Harris’s ruling would stand.

Sinema and Manchin have already said they would not go for this approach, however, suggesting that Democrats will probably avoid it. “There is no instance in which I would overrule a parliamentarian’s decision,” Sinema told Politico. “I want to restore the 60-vote threshold for all elements of the Senate’s work.” Manchin, too, told CNN that he’s intent on preserving the sanctity of the Byrd Rule.

Because of their pushback — and because this would be a more partisan move in an already partisan process — it’s seen as a less likely route.

“I don’t see much room for that just because of the politics that Joe Biden represents,” says Josh Huder, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has signaled as much at a recent briefing as well. Were the parliamentarian to rule the minimum wage a violation of the Byrd Rule, the measure would probably be tabled for now.

The pressure on moderates is even higher, however, if the parliamentarian decides that the minimum wage qualifies for the reconciliation bill.

In that scenario, Manchin, Sinema, and any others who’ve stated their opposition to the $15 minimum wage will face significant public scrutiny over their positions. And at that point, they’ll be holding up something concrete, without the ability to cite process arguments as the rationale for doing so.

CBO says $15 minimum wage would increase deficit $54B

  CBO says $15 minimum wage would increase deficit $54B The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Monday said that raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 would add $54 billion over 10 years to the budget deficit and lift 900,000 people out of poverty, but lead to 1.4 million lost jobs.The deficit finding is of particular note because Democrats would like to use budgetary rules to pass a minimum wage hike as part of a budget reconciliation package, a process that can not be filibustered. With the use of such rules, Democrats could advance the budgetary bill through the Senate even if every GOP senator objects, as long as Democrats stick together.

Senate Democrats, then, would have to grapple with whether they can get all 50 lawmakers in line on increasing the minimum wage to $15, or if they’d have negotiate it down to the $11 proposal that Manchin has raised, or another alternative option.

“I do support a $15 minimum wage,” Biden noted in a recent town hall, while acknowledging the challenges it could pose for some businesses. “It’s totally legitimate for small-business owners to be concerned about how that changes.”

Democrats are having to go it alone because Republicans aren’t open to it

A key reason Democrats are operating on such narrow vote margins is because Republicans are widely expected to oppose the proposed minimum wage increase.

“We are getting Republicans on the record,” one of the Democratic aides told Vox. “I think it will be difficult for them to say thank you to our frontline heroes who’ve been risking their lives and say, we think $7.25 [an hour] is an appropriate salary.”

As Vox’s Dylan Matthews explains, there’s been a longstanding debate over whether increases to the minimum wage lead to outsized losses in employment. With regard to the recent bill, the CBO report states that it’s expected to lift 900,000 people out of poverty, and bolster the pay of 27 million people. (Another estimate from Democrats notes that the measure would increase the pay of as many as 32 million people.) At the same time, the CBO estimates it could potentially cost 1.4 million jobs, a figure that’s garnered pushback from some economists who argue that’s an overestimate.

Republicans have raised concerns that such wage increases would put extensive pressure on small businesses that are already struggling during the pandemic, and that they should be tailored to the living costs in different states. Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton, too, have announced plans to introduce their own bill that would increase the minimum wage, though they intend to tie such changes to immigration enforcement. Romney and Cotton haven’t yet revealed how much they would raise the minimum wage by.

In order to pass a $15 minimum wage, or even a compromise measure, Democrats will have to first clear the procedural hurdle of the parliamentarian, and then deal with the fracturing among themselves. As Sanders has emphasized, navigating both challenges is pivotal for this future of the minimum wage increase: Because of Republican opposition, this could be the party’s one shot to advance this proposal in the near term.

“Let’s be clear. We are never going to get 10 Republicans to increase the minimum wage through ‘regular order’,” Sanders said. “The only way to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour now is to pass it with 51 votes through budget reconciliation.”

CBO says $15 minimum wage would increase deficit $54B .
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Monday said that raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 would add $54 billion over 10 years to the budget deficit and lift 900,000 people out of poverty, but lead to 1.4 million lost jobs.The deficit finding is of particular note because Democrats would like to use budgetary rules to pass a minimum wage hike as part of a budget reconciliation package, a process that can not be filibustered. With the use of such rules, Democrats could advance the budgetary bill through the Senate even if every GOP senator objects, as long as Democrats stick together.

usr: 3
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