Why Mitt Romney is Wrong. Again.

In the name of “caring,” we now have Mitt Romney and other past Presidential hopefuls supporting a minimum wage hike.

For a guy who regretted saying that 47 % of the country was never going to vote for him, it seems an odd choice to support a policy that would hurt those same folks. Mitt Romney must know that the burden for this increase won’t harm the already well off but necessarily impacts those trying to get started in life.

The opportunity cost of flipping on this issue is in fact- opportunity.

That makes his shift on this issue even more disconcerting. Rick Santorum has jumped on this ship as well. At least in his case it’s excusable, because Santorum’s economic platform is strong on platitudes and low on economic sense. At least he’s consistent.

As a party, how are we a credible alternative for the poor if we continue to make their lives worse? 

The CBO clearly said that this hike would eliminate jobs. The cost impacts would be absorbed more often by small businesses than the handy foil of big corporations:

In a recent analysis, the Employment Policies Institute used this data to determine the size of a typical minimum-wage employer. Contrary to the rhetoric of organized labor and its allies, the vast majority of people earning the minimum wage aren’t working at large corporations with 1,000 or more employees. Roughly half the minimum-wage workforce is employed at businesses with fewer than 100 employees, and 40% are at very small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The results are similar even if you follow the left’s cue and broaden the analysis from minimum wage employees earning $7.25 an hour to “low-wage” employees earning $10 an hour or less: 46% still work for businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

Who earns minimum wage?  According to Heritage:

In 2011 and 2012, 3.7 million Americans reported earning $7.25 or less per hour—just 2.9 percent of all workers in the United States. Those who do work in minimum-wage jobs fall into two distinct categories: young workers, usually in school, and older workers who have left school.

Starting off at minimum wage doesn’t mean you stay there:

Over two-thirds of workers starting out at the minimum wage earn more than that a year later. Minimum-wage jobs are learning wage jobs — they teach inexperienced employees skills that make them more productive. They are the first step on many workers’ career ladders.

Minimum wage increases can have long-term effects that set people back for years: “among the possible adverse longer-run effects are decreased labor market experience and accumulation of tenure, lower current labor supply because of lower wages, and diminished training and skill acquisition.” This is because minimum wage jobs are an opportunity and not meant to be how one makes a living.

Most on the right agree that minimum wage is bad policy because it hurts the people it purports to help. It’s understandable that, as a party, Republicans are looking for ways to tell people we care deeply about all Americans’ futures. The way to do it isn’t by craven political calculation that hurts the very people they are looking to help.

Credibility is not built by knowingly harming the group of people you are interested in attracting to your side.

Every time you give the left a pass on the false premise behind government price controls on labor, you give credence to the “hoarding profits” and “sinister” businessman nonsense they continue to perpetuate.

The notion that businesses are simply greedy and not providing “the worker” with their due is a proxy for just about every ideological difference with the left.  There’s “picking your  battles” and then there’s ceding the entire narrative.

If you want to find common ground defending the “little guy” why not go right after big corporations campaigning for policies like this that keep out new entrants?

But therein lies the problem: the instinct to cave on issues like this to “win” makes one believe that when an even more deleterious policy battle arrives, capitulation will again rule the day because maybe some just “don’t care”.