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On Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said the bill would be “devastating” for middle-class families, referencing new research released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The report said the gradual move to a $15 per hour minimum wage could wipe out as many as 3.7 million jobs.
“Think about that, that’s the entire state of Oklahoma losing their job,” Scalise said. “The CBO report that came out should be alarming to everybody in America who believes in trying to become part of the middle class.”
The CBO report found that the Democrats’ bill would boost wages for about 17 million people – but it would also reduce business income, raise consumer prices and reduce the nation’s output. Overall, the CBO said the move would reduce real family income by about $9 billion in 2025 – or 0.1 percent. Those effects, however, would be felt differently depending on where families fall on the income spectrum. Job losses were estimated at a median 1.3 million, though the range could extend as high as 3.7 million.
Scalise went on to say that the U.S. economy is healthy and “booming” – after growing at a pace of 3.1 percent in the first quarter.
“We’re seeing wages grow right now, our economy is booming, we are the envy of the world and we’ve got more job openings than … people looking for work,” he said. “The last thing we need is for the government to come in and undermine that success by passing a bill that would literally eviscerate 3.7 million jobs.”
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, unchanged since 2009.
Democrats are scheduled to vote on the legislation, known as the Raise the Wage Act, next week. The bill aims to increase the national minimum pay rate to $15 by 2024 through scheduled annual increases. It has more than 180 co-sponsors, including support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Not all conservatives are opposed to bigger paychecks, however, though they typically don’t support a federal mandate.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, for example, argued against having the federal government set the national minimum wage since conditions vary meaningfully among states.
“The federal government shouldn’t have jurisdiction over the states anyway in a matter like this,” Kudlow told FOX Business in November 2018. "The conditions are different in these states, the cost of living is different, the state of business is different.”
A number of states and cities – including New Jersey and Oregon – raised their minimum wages on July 1.