So much for Joe Biden, moderate
President Biden wasted no time releasing a flurry of executive orders and legislative proposals. Some of them may be helpful in addressing the economic challenges imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. But others would almost certainly “cancel” his effort to create jobs, grow the economy and promote equity.
Canceling jobs: the minimum wage increase. In his pandemic relief proposal, Biden is pushing a $15/hour federal minimum wage, more than twice the current rate of $7.25.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 80.4 million U.S. workers who were paid on an hourly basis in 2017, 542,000 – generally younger and low-skilled workers – were paid the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.
But the added cost to employers isn’t limited to those making the minimum wage. Increases will ripple up as workers with more experience, responsibilities or skills who are currently making $15.00/hour understandably demand a commensurate increase.
The cumulative effect will force thousands of employers, already struggling to stay solvent, to close their doors. As Fox News recently reported, 48 percent of small businesses already say revenues are below what they need to stay open. The minimum wage increase would make that situation worse.
Ironically, Biden and the Democrats are pushing this increase even though Congress just passed the $935 billion year-end COVID-19 relief bill that included $325 billion (over 10 years) to help small businesses keep their doors open and workers employed. Another $120 billion was included to extend unemployment benefits for the millions who have lost their jobs.
Supporters will claim that recent economic studies downplay the job-losing impact of minimum wage increases. And it may be that small increases or increases phased in over a long period of time limit the negative impact. But that’s not Biden’s proposal.
It’s absurd for Biden to lament the thousands of businesses that have closed and millions of Americans who have lost their jobs even as he proposes dramatically raising employers’ cost of doing business. His proposal would only add job-loss fuel to the pandemic fire.
Canceling energy: the Keystone XL pipeline. Biden’s executive order to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline is little more than virtue signaling to the environmentalists who supported him.
The cancelation won’t stop the oil from being transported to refineries and sold. It will just have to be diverted to other places, and possibly transported by less-safe and more-expensive methods, such as by rail.
The Keystone pipeline has been up and running for more than a decade, transporting about 550,000 barrels a day of the exact same heavy crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to the United States for refining and sale.
The Keystone XL, which is the fourth phase of the Keystone pipeline project, is simply an additional line that would take the same Canadian crude, plus oil produced in Montana, to the Keystone hub in Sterling, Nebraska.
When Phase 3 of the Keystone pipeline began in 2012, which went from the oil-storage hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf of Mexico for refining, President Obama traveled to Cushing to praise the effort, telling his audience, “I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles and make this project a priority.”
But Biden owes his presidential victory in part to environmentalists, and he needs to throw them a bone, even if it’s only symbolic — and very costly.
Canceling fairness: allowing men in women’s sports. My guess is that Biden’s day-one executive order that vastly expands the Supreme Court’s 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County decision will come back to haunt both him and Democratic political candidates.
The order’s language with respect to public schools says, “All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.” Schools will likely interpret that as saying boys who simply identify as girls must be allowed to compete in girls’ sports.
Ironically, the Supreme Court’s 6-3 Bostock decision specifically excluded the Biden approach. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority, “we do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.” — which is exactly what Biden’s order does.
Given the undeniable additional strength, speed, size and stamina of most male athletes when compared to their female counterparts, it means that male athletes who identify as females will dominate their respective sport. There are perks to being the top athletes in a class, including college scholarships and high-paying professional opportunities.
While I wouldn’t expect a large number of biological male athletes to cross over, some will — indeed, some already have. And more and more parents are voicing their dissents.
Biden won the presidency in part because suburban women abandoned Donald Trump. Guaranteeing that biological males can compete with females may be the GOP’s best chance of winning them back.
Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews.
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