Dingell made the point on “Morning’s with Maria” on Tuesday reacting to criticism of President Biden’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour as part of his massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus proposal, which some argue could deal another financial blow to small businesses already struggling during the pandemic.
Dingell stressed on Tuesday that the higher wages are justified for essential workers who “kept this society going” during the pandemic.
“I want you to look at who the glue has been of keeping this country together since we went into shutdown mode over COVID last March,” Dingell said. “It was people we didn’t think were worth paying enough, paying $15 an hour.”
“All the billionaires and everybody else had a place to go, but it was those people that kept the bus lines running, that kept the grocery stores open, that kept them stocked it was the Amazon drivers that were delivering and I think we need to look at the value of a human life and the people that are working and pay them for what they are giving us as a society,” she continued.
Dingell added, “They are worth it.”
“The way that they are working, they are owed it from us,” she continued. “They kept this society going.”
Biden’s proposal would increase the minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 per hour for the past decade, to $15 per hour and would end the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities.
But according to a recent analysis published by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a nonpartisan agency, as many as 3.7 million workers could lose their jobs as a result of the minimum wage increase. At the same time, the CBO projects that some 17 million workers would receive a pay boost.
"For most low-wage workers, earnings and family income would increase, which would lift some families out of poverty," the report said. "But other low-wage workers would become jobless, and their family income would fall—in some cases, below the poverty threshold."
The pandemic has already devastated small businesses, which employ roughly 59 million Americans, or about 47.5% of the nation's entire workforce. One estimate from Yelp found that between April and September of last year, 160,000 businesses closed -- or about 800 per day.
FOX Business’ Dagen McDowell argued on Tuesday that “laying on a $15 national minimum wage, it’s incredibly financially burdensome to businesses in many states where the cost of living is just not that high.”
In response, Dingell acknowledged that restaurant owners will need financial help to support the minimum wage increase, adding that she sure knows “there are a lot of people who have put their lives at risk that we have got to pay.”
FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.