E.J. Dionne: Conservatives opposed to amnesty should prove their sincerity by supporting a higher minimum wage, or something

One of the many valid arguments against the Obama-Schumer-Rubio amnesty bill is that it will result in a glut of unskilled and low-skilled labor which, because of the inconvenient laws of supply and demand, will result in downward pressure on wages for working class Americans. Governor Palin recently made this very point:

According to the CBO, the bill won’t stop illegal immigration, but it will drive down wages for average hardworking Americans. These would be the same blue-collar working class voters of every ethnicity who chose to sit home in 2012 instead of turning out to vote in the swing states we needed to carry in order to stop Barack Obama’s promised “fundamental transformation” of America. I note this just as a helpful reminder to those who believe the hyperventilated new hype claiming that conservatives need to support this bill in order to win future elections. That’s 100% wrong. The crony capitalists in D.C. and their corporatist friends on Wall Street might think this amnesty boondoggle is a great idea, but the average American worker in our middle class who’ll soon see lower wages is the one left out in the cold, along with those hard working immigrants who followed the rules and are working here legally.

And many of those who don’t experience a discrete drop in their wages will certainly notice fewer and smaller raises in their pay going forward as amnesty ( and Obamanomics in general) perpetuates a loose labor market. A few days after Governor Palin’s article, Ted Cruz discussed another perverse component of the amnesty bill which, in conjunction with Obamacare, will further hurt American workers by effectively penalizing employers for hiring them over the millions of illegal immigrants who would be “amnestied” via the Gang of Eight’s bill:

I understand that in the interim, King Obama decided, for political reasons, that he would disregard that part of the law which requires employers to offer Obamacare or pay a substantial per-employee fine, but nobody who understands how the economy works believes businesses will suddenly go on a hiring binge only to dump the new employees one year hence when, presumably, the employer mandate kicks in. Businesses don’t operate that way. Anyway, many on the Left have cried foul over these GOP objections to amnesty, essentially arguing that conservatives really don’t care about the working class, that they’re just using this newfound concern as a ruse to obfuscate the real reason they oppose amnesty. That, naturally, would be racism, because there couldn’t possibly be a legitimate reason to oppose border integrity and respect for the rule of law. Lefty Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne smells a rat, and thinks he’s hit on a way to expose the nefarious subterfuge being perpetrated by those racist Tea Party folk: Dare them to raise the minimum wage.  I’m not making this up.

Battling for a higher minimum wage would test the Republicans’ newfound love for the salt of the earth. Are they willing to embrace an idea endorsed by seven in 10 Americans? Or do they retreat to Romney’s rhetoric privileging “job creators” over workers?

Raising the minimum wage would also respond to a claim being put forward by opponents of immigration reform. “The last thing low-skilled native and immigrant workers already here should have to deal with is wage-depressing competition from newly arriving workers,” wrote William Kristol and Rich Lowry in a joint editorial this week signaling an enhanced level of opposition on the right to the Senate immigration bill.

It’s heartwarming to know that the editors of the Weekly Standard and National Review are now worried about depressed wages. In truth, granting immigrants who are here illegally basic labor rights would have a positive effect on wages for all workers. But if Kristol and Lowry are really worried about low-paid workers, let their next literary collaboration be an endorsement of a $9 or $10 hourly minimum wage.

Translation. If Republicans are really concerned about blue collar workers, they’d support an arbitrary an increase in the cost of hiring them, thus making it more difficult for them to find a job. But if Republicans opposed to amnesty don’t support the idiotic gimmick, they’ll be exposed as hypocrites. I’m always amazed by the inability of the liberal mind to comprehend basic economics. Blue collar wages are stagnant or falling because there’s an oversupply of workers and a lack of demand for them. Granting millions of undocumented immigrants legal status will exacerbate the former. Obamacare has already exacerbated the latter by making it more expensive to add to payroll. Dionne’s proposal to raise the minimum wage will make it even more expensive. How will this ameliorate the problem of “depressed wages” to which Dionne refers? Businesses who want to remain in business can’t afford to hire workers who cost more than their productivity justifies. With unemployment at or above 7.5% for the entirety of Obama’s tenure, instead of doing something to make it easier for employers to hire people, Dionne recommends a policy guaranteed to make it more difficult. And this, according to Dionne, will prove to blue collar workers, many of whom will lose their jobs or see their hours cut if the minimum wage is hiked, that Republicans care about them. Awesome.

By the way, it’s amazing that Dionne brought up Romney. The Mittster not only thinks the minimum wage is a great idea, but wants to index it to inflation as well. That guarantees the minimum wage will rise each and every year at whatever rate the government deems the CPI to be, which has no relationship whatsoever to worker productivity. That’s an extreme position, and a significant number of Democrats don’t even want to go there. Have I forgotten something? I don’t recall Romney’s affinity for nutty liberal ideas causing blue collar workers to turn out in droves for him. Perhaps having a low-paying job is preferable to having no job at all.

I’m curious how Dionne settled on “$9 or $10” as his prescription for what the minimum wage ought to be. (I wonder if he has any insight on what price the government should set for a margarita or a lawnmower blade.) The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. Clearly he believes $9 is preferable to $7.25, and, therefore, $10 is better than $9.  But why stop there? Why not make it, say, $12.50 per hour?  That’s working great in DC, after all.  Oh wait.



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