Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said a $15 federal minimum wage—which studies say will kill as many as two million jobs—was needed to "bail out" small businesses.
Biden again said that he would support a $15 minimum wage during Thursday night's debate, saying such a policy would help alleviate small businesses struggling amidst the coronavirus.
"I do because I think one of the things we're gonna have to do is we're gonna have to bail them out too," Biden said. "We should be bailing them out now, those small businesses."
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A recent study from the pro-free market Employment Policies Institute (EPI) found that a $15 minimum wage would eliminate millions of jobs. The majority of jobs lost will be held by women, with the states of Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Georgia projected to be the hardest hit, according to the report.
President Donald Trump pushed back on Biden's claim, arguing that a $15 minimum wage would cripple small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
"He said we have to help our small businesses—by raising the minimum wage? That's not helping," Trump said. "How are you helping our small businesses when you're forcing wages? What's gonna happen—and what's been proven to happen—is when you do that, these small businesses fire many of their employees."
EPI managing director Michael Saltsman called a $15 minimum wage a "terrible idea."
"Doubling the federal minimum wage during a pandemic is a terrible idea," Saltsman told the Washington Free Beacon. "Two million jobs are at risk from a $15 minimum wage, and half of those jobs are in the hospitality industry. This isn't the time to play politics and back a harmful policy as a favor to your labor backers."