Don't wait for feds to act on minimum wage

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Text Size: A | A

In a State of the Union surprise last week, President Obama saw New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal for a minimum wage hike and raised it a quarter — to $9 an hour nationally. It’s an excellent idea that, not surprisingly, has already been pronounced DOA by House Speaker John Boehner. So New York legislators shouldn’t be tempted to defer to the feds on this, even though the idea of a one-size-fits-all minimum is preferable to the patchwork quilt that now exists in 20 different states and the District of Columbia.

Assembly Democrats, who wasted little time endorsing Obama’s higher minimum as well as the idea of indexing future growth to the inflation rate, might want to take it a little easy here. Their Republican counterparts in the Senate just seem to be wrapping their heads around the governor’s proposal; trying to sweeten the pot before it gets formally considered might queer the deal.

Indeed, a spokesman for state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos signaled almost immediately after Obama’s speech Tuesday that he’d rather wait for the feds to tackle the issue. In principle, he’s right, because there would be less potential for damage to New York’s businesses if the minimum wage for all of New York’s neighbors went up simultaneously. (Currently, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont among New York’s abutters have higher-than-federal minimums, New Jersey and Pennsylvania don’t.)

But the political realities are such in Washington that there seems little chance of a higher federal minimum being adopted anytime soon.

Skelos and the Senate Republicans have to realize that, as do Assembly Democrats. So the latter need to avoid antagonizing the former. A $1.50 hike, from $7.25 to $8.75, is likely to be a tough enough sell; many businessmen are already lobbying against it, claiming it will weaken their balance sheets and lead to layoffs. (Never mind that the federal minimum hasn’t been raised in the last four years, and that even $9 an hour is below poverty level.)

In an ideal world, the minimum wage would be a true living wage, indexed to inflation so that as prices rose, workers at the lowest pay rungs could still subsist without government help, and the issue could be kept above the political fray. Unfortunately, the real world is another matter.

Share story: print print email email facebook facebook reddit reddit


February 20, 2013
6:59 a.m.
muggy says...

Raising the minimum has been proven to increase unemployment, especially among blacks. But let's consider your "ideal world." Why stop at $9/hour? Why not $15? How about $20? You really think $9/hour is a living wage? How could anyone raise a family on such a stingy offer? The reason you don't offer $100/hour is because the minimum wage is completely arbitrary; a mandate forced on others by those who think they know better.

Why not "mandate" that everyone gets their own home? How about cars? Shouldn't everyone have the "right" to own a car - for free?

And if we can legislate a "minimum wage," why shouldn't the government legislate a "maximum wage?" Why do lawyers need to make $250/hour? Why do baseball players need $20 million dollars/year? Wages are a response to the value of those employed by employers who treasure the work provided. Wages are not supposed to be social constructs in a free market, capitalist system. In a truly free economy, there should be no minimum wage at all.

You see, the masterminds, like the editorial writers at the Gazette and leftists in DC, think they can micromanage the dynamic forces in our free economy. But Freedom isn't held in high esteem by most in this country anymore.

If the minimum wage is raised, it will help destroy this country which is headed the way of Greece.

February 20, 2013
8:27 a.m.
wmarincic says...

The minimum wage is designed to get young and inexperienced people in the workforce. Once in the workforce they learn to be responsible and with that their drive and ambition are supposed to move them up the ladder and by doing so it increases the ammount of wages they can make. You are only limited by your own dreams. It is funny that the U.S.D.A runs both the U.S. State Parks and the Food Stamp progams. There are signs all over the state parks that say U.S. Park Service bans feeding animals because they "will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves".

February 20, 2013
7:02 p.m.
ronzo says...

muggy: to quote you "In a truly free economy, there should be no minimum wage at all." So what would be the lowest pay that you would be willing to work for? Presuming that you do work for pay, you would of course work for the pay that is decided appropriate for you. Maybe a dollar an hour or something like that? That is what you mean - right? And your other statement - "Raising the minimum has been proven to increase unemployment, especially among blacks." That fact is stated where? And actually, in spite of your internal emotion, freedom IS held in the highest esteem by Americans, just maybe not by those who exist within your mind.

February 20, 2013
9:02 p.m.
cheeseburger says...

i would bet that 3/4s of the pro increase in the mimimum wage have some taxpayer funded job. how many of you has ever had to pay out a payroll? you are the people who went from high school to college to a govt job where you get a pay increase every year without regard to preformance.not all businesses are lg. corporate monsters. have some commpassion for your local family owned businesses

February 25, 2013
7:56 a.m.
geneshan2 says...

Everyone is missing another important part of raising the minimum wage level (which I really have no problem with). Imagine the payroll dollars that will become taxable and the lessening of assistance dollars. The government(s) make out the best. Higher taxes coming from the ones least able to afford them and less Social Service benefits paid out. The government wins, again on our backs.

Log-in to post a comment.

columnists & blogs

Log into

Forgot Password?