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The US House of Representatives voted last week to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The bill passed in a 231-199 vote in the Democrat-controlled chamber.

CNBC notes that the bill “received almost immediate criticism from major business organizations,” and that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that “raising the minimum wage to $15 could cost 1.3 million jobs but raise pay for 17 million.”

Among the trade associations objecting to the bill are the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

However, the CNBC story also points out that “although major business organizations quickly came out to criticize the House’s move, some of the country’s largest businesses in impacted sectors are outliers on this issue.”

CNBC reports: “McDonald’s stopped working with the National Restaurant Association to lobby against the wage hike in March, and the company came out in support of introducing the wage increase in all industries.

“Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 for U.S. workers in October 2018. CEO Jeff Bezos challenged rivals to raise their wages to $15 or higher in April.

“Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the current federal minimum wage is ‘too low’ at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in June. ‘It’s time for Congress to put a thoughtful plan in place to increase the minimum wage,’ he said.”
KC's View:
It seems entirely reasonable to characterize the House vote as political posturing - not only is a $15 minimum wage a surefire campaign issue in the I-can’t-believe-the-campaign-already-has-begun 2020 presidential election, but there is absolutely no shot that the bill will ever pass the Senate (if it even comes to the floor for a vote there), and even less shot that it would be signed by President Trump. But, posturing is part of politics and so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Here’s a posture for you. If a person works 40 hours a week, he or she grosses $600 a week. It is really hard in a lot of places to survive on that kind of money, especially if you have a family … hard to pay rent or a mortgage and pay for a car and clothing and food and school books and maybe some medical bills.

This is a complicated issue, in some ways. Some will argue that part-time workers don’t have those kind of expenses, and so don’t need the higher wage. (Unless they happen to be paying for their own educational expenses, say.) And some will say that nobody making the minimum wage has all those expenses, to which I would respond, quoting Ernest Hemingway, “Isn’t it pretty to think so.”

The minimum wage, as it almost always is, will become a political hot potato … and so nothing is likely to get done, and the people earning it will continue to suffer. Maybe we could think about them instead of focusing on ideology.