The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour on Thursday, earning sharp criticism from House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who says the bill jeopardizes the current economic success the country is enjoying.
The bill to gradually increase the minimum wage in the coming years passed entirely along party lines. Democrats rallied together to pass the legislation despite recent conflict between members of their caucus. The bill is highly unlikely to advance through the Republican-controlled Senate, but McCarthy said it's further evidence of how "out of touch" Democrats have become.
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"The United States is in the midst of enjoying the best economy we have seen in a generation," McCarthy told the Washington Free Beacon. "The Democrats' minimum wage hike is another one of their Washington-knows-best policies that is not only out of touch with the rest of America, but will result in a reversal of the recent economic gains Americans around the country have been experiencing."
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that a $15 minimum wage hike would raise wages for more than a million workers, but would also result in the loss of up to 3.7 million jobs and a reduction of total family income by about $9 billion by 2025.
A poll released this week found only 20 percent of Americans think raising the minimum wage is worth the economic consequences. It also found that 71 percent believe the minimum wage should be adjusted based on cost of living in different parts of the country.
"While a vocal crowd is championing a $15 minimum wage, most Americans think there are more effective ways to fight poverty," said Elaine Parker of the Job Creators Network, which commissioned the poll. "A one-size-fits-all strategy is rarely a good idea when it comes to sound economic policy."
McCarthy said the Democrats passed the bill to "deliver on an unpopular partisan pledge."
"I had the privilege of starting my own deli business when I was young, so I understand firsthand how unnecessary regulations, taxes, and mandates can prevent businesses from hiring and expanding," he said. "House Democrats jeopardized the prosperity of all Americans today just to deliver on an unpopular partisan pledge."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) predicted "all of America is going to be advantaged" by the bill.
"They're going to buy groceries, they're going to buy clothes, they're going to buy things they need," Hoyer said.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R., La.), who chairs the budget-focused Republican Study Committee, echoed the criticism of the bill by leadership.
"The House Democrats' bill to force a 107 percent increase in the federal minimum wage would actually cause great harm to our economy and to the very people we all want to help," Johnson said. "If their idea became law, countless small businesses would be forced to eliminate employees and their available hours."