Federal Minimum Wage Debate Reaches the Presidential Level

During last week’s Vice-Presidential debate between Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Governor Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the topic of raising the federal minimum wage surfaced when Sen. Kaine attacked Gov. Pence for opposing an increase in the minimum wage.

Sen. Kaine attacked Gov. Pence saying, “Mike Pence, when he was in Congress, voted against raising the minimum wage above $5.15 and he has been a one-man bulwark against minimum wage increases in Indiana.”

Debate over raising the federal minimum wage often comes down to partisan politics, but it really shouldn’t. Back in 1987, left-leaning newspaper – The New York Times wrote an opinion piece arguing against the federal minimum wage entitled “The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00.” In this piece, The New York Times concludes: “The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old, honorable – and fundamentally flawed. It’s time to put this hoary debate behind us, and find a better way to improve the lives of people who work very hard for very little.”

Unfortunately, the debate has not died despite convincing evidence that increasing the minimum wage actually destroys jobs for low-skilled workers. Heritage Foundation research fellow James Sherk recently demonstrated that raising minimum starting wages to $15 per hour would eliminate 7 million jobs, including 202,000 jobs in Indiana and 208,000 in Virginia.

Instead of debating old and fundamentally flawed ideas, Congress should get to work enacting legislation such as lowering taxes, reducing regulation, and repealing Obamacare that will encourage business growth and expand employment opportunities for low-income workers.

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