Re:Minimum Wage Increase-What You Will Not Hear About Kennedy's Efforts

This week the Senate is expected to take up the Defense Authorization bill, S. 2766. However, because there is no requirement in the Senate that amendments be germane to the underlying bill (remember, this is also the place that requires a super-majority -- 60 votes -- to cut off debate), Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) will reportedly be offering an amendment to raise the minimum wage. A few points:-- As a rule of thumb, the minimum wage almost always comes up in a year divisible by 2, i.e., an election year. It is more prevalent still in years divisible by 4. It is not an economic issue, but rather a political issue.-- You will read in almost any MSM commentary that the current minimum wage worker doesn't earn enough to pull a family of 4 out of poverty. That's correct. However, it's fair to ask, "How many minimum wage earners are the sole breadwinners of families of 4?" Answer: Not many.

-- You will hear that minimum wage workers "haven't gotten a raise" in X number of years. This is an old (albeit effective) rhetorical trick. It assumes the minimum wage population is a static universe. It is not. The minimum wage population tomorrow is different than the minimum wage population today, a dynamic group.

-- The minimum wage is meant to be a bottom rung, from which people can climb to higher earnings. Try this test: How many people that you know (including yourself) ever made the minimum wage? Almost all, no doubt. How many make it today? Probably very few, if any.

-- The fact is that raising the minimum wage costs jobs. It does every time it's raised. Those marginal jobs at the bottom rung just get eliminated.

-- For those who cry crocodile tears about helping the so-called "working poor" (most of whom make far in excess of the minimum wage), there is a direct correlation between skills and education levels and wages. If you want to lift people out of poverty, support efforts (as we do) to train workers and give them the skills they need to succeed in this 21st century workforce.

In any event, keep this primer handy as the debate plays out this week. You're not likely to hear these points in the media coverage of Sen. Kennedy's biennial effort.