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News Tuesday, Apr 19 2016

Toomey Toes The #PartyofTrump Line On Minimum Wage

Apr 19, 2016

Echoing Donald Trump’s position that, “Having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country,” vulnerable Pennsylvania senator Pat Toomey trotted out the familiar right-wing talking point that an increase in the minimum wage would keep young people out of the workforce. This argument ignores the fact that the average minimum wage worker is 35, 88 percent are 20 or older, half are over 30, and about a third are 40 or older.

Toomey’s out-of-touch position on the minimum wage is one more example of his rhetoric mirroring that of the Republican front-runner. 

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John Dodds, of the Raise the Wage Pennsylvania Coalition, thinks it is a conversation long overdue and stalled by political posturing. Dodds believes the solutions are simple: Raise the minimum wage, increase the tax base, make life better for residents of the state. […] U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, disagrees. He believes an increase in the minimum wage will put the jobs of the most vulnerable at risk. ‘It will hit people who have fewer skills and younger workers the hardest — the very people who most need an opportunity to get into the workforce, get their first job, and start their way up the economic ladder,’ he said in an email.


Toomey Voted Against Increasing The Minimum Wage At Least Twice

2015: Toomey Voted Against Raising The Federal Minimum Wage By An Unspecified Amount. In March 2015, Toomey voted against an amendment that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would [have] create[d] a deficit neutral reserve fund to allow for legislation that would increase the federal minimum wage.” The Senate rejected the proposed amendment to its version of the FY 2016 budget resolution by a vote of 48 to 52. [Senate Vote 93, 3/26/15; Congressional Quarterly, 3/26/15; Congressional Actions, S. Con. Res. 11]

  • “Deficit-Neutral Reserve Funds” Do Not Actually Provide Funds And Generally Only Serve As A Way To Make A Political Statement. According to his book America’s Priorities, Charles S. Konigsberg explains that, “‘Reserve Funds’ are an optional component of a Budget Resolution that allow a Budget Resolution’s total spending and committee allocations to be adjusted upward to accommodate additional spending for a specifically defined purpose. Because most reserve funds require that the new legislation be ‘deficit neutral’ (i.e., paid for by new spending cuts or tax increases), the use of the term reserve fund is actually a misnomer, since a Budget Resolution ‘reserve fund’ does not provide any funds. In fact, the only scenarios in which a ‘reserve fund’ has any purpose at all (other than to make a political statement) is where a mechanism is needed to allow the Budget commission to Adjust committee allocations to accommodate a new program that is to be paid for by tax increases or spending cuts in other committee’s jurisdiction. If a new program is paid for by spending cuts within a committee’s own jurisdiction, there is no net increase in the committee’s spending or in total Federal spending, so no adjustments to the Budget Resolution are required, and ‘reserve fund’ authority is unnecessary.” [America’s Priorities: How The U.S. Government Raises and Spends $3,000,000,000,000 (Trillion) Per Year, p. 408, 2008]

2014: Toomey Effectively Voted Against Raising The Federal Minimum Wage By Nearly Three Dollars, To $10.10, By 2016. In April 2014, Toomey effectively voted against a bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly, “would [have] increase[d] the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016. It would gradually increase the minimum cash wage for workers who receive tips until it equals 70 percent of the federal minimum wage for other workers. It also would amend the tax code to extend through 2016 the $500,000 cap for small business expensing of investments eligible for deductions, including allowances for computer software and qualified real property.” The vote was on a motion to end debate on the motion to proceed to consider the legislation, which required 60 votes to succeed. The Senate rejected the motion by a vote 54 to 42. [Senate Vote 117, 4/30/14; Congressional Quarterly, 4/30/14]

  • CBO Estimated That, Of The Group Of Workers More Likely To Be Affected By Minimum Wage Increase, 56 Percent Are Women, 91 Percent Will Not Have A Bachelor’s Degree And 88 Percent Will Be Over 20 Years Old. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “Increases in the minimum wage would raise the wages not only for many workers who would otherwise have earned less than the new minimum but also for some workers who would otherwise have earned slightly more than the new minimum, as discussed above. CBO’s analysis focused on workers who are projected to earn less than $11.50 per hour in 2016 under current law (who, in this report, are generally referred to as low-wage workers). People with certain characteristics are more likely to be in that group and are therefore more likely to be affected by increases in the minimum wage like those that CBO examined. For example, in 2016, 88 percent of the people earning such wages will be at least 20 years old, 56 percent will be female, and 91 percent will not have attained a bachelor’s degree, CBO estimates” (footnotes omitted). [CBO, 2/14]

  • CBO: Minimum Wage Increase To $10.10 Would Increase Overall Net Income By $19 Billion For Families Making Less Than Six Times The Federal Poverty Line, Which They Project To Be About $120,000 For A Family of Three In 2016, And Lower It By $17 Billion For Families Making More. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “CBO estimates that the net changes in real income would be an increase of about $5 billion for families whose income would have been below the poverty threshold under current law; an increase of $12 billion for families whose income would have been between one and three times the poverty threshold; an increase of $2 billion for families whose income would have been between three and six times the poverty threshold; and a decrease of $17 billion for families whose income would have been greater than that. […] (In 2016, six times the poverty threshold will be roughly $120,000 for a family of three and $150,000 for a family of four, CBO projects.) According to CBO’s estimates, the increase in earnings for the few low-wage workers living in that last group of families would be more than offset by income reductions, in part because the losses in business income and in real income from price increases would be concentrated in those families.” [CBO, 2/14]

Toomey Said That Raising The Minimum Wage Would Reduce Jobs

Toomey: “Raising The Minimum Wage Only Reduces The Number Of Jobs Available.” According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Mr. Toomey said Friday that the president’s economic policies are wrongheaded. Instead of working to increase the minimum wage, he should be looking at the bigger picture, the senator said. Raising the minimum wage only reduces the number of jobs available, and that isn’t helpful, he said.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/19/15]

May 2014: Toomey Said Raising The Minimum Wage Would Push People On “The Low End Of The Skill Spectrum” Out Of The Work Force. In an interview on Morning Joe, Pat Toomey said, “MR. SCARBOROUGH: Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty also supports raising the minimum wage. Where do you stand on that issue? SEN. TOOMEY: I disagree with those folks; agree with a large majority of Republicans, many others. Joe, you know, I think you understand we want higher wages. We want better jobs. But we also want more jobs. If the government comes along and issues a fiat and picks an arbitrary number and says employers have to pay someone at least that amount, well, there are some people who are at the low end of the skill spectrum, maybe have never worked before; maybe it’s a teenager who needs a first opportunity. They’re not able to produce at that level. They simply won’t get the job.” [Pat Toomey, Morning Joe, 5/9/14]

November 2013: Toomey Said Raising The Minimum Wage Would “Exacerbate A Terribly High Unemployment Rate That We Already Have.” According to All Things Considered, Pat Toomey said, “DAVID WELNA: Durbin admits he knows of no Senate Republicans who would vote to raise the minimum wage. Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey says it’s clear why Democrats are raising the issue. PAT TOOMEY: It’s a populist measure. They think they can probably score some political points, but it’s very bad policy and it would – if it were to pass, it would actually exacerbate a terribly high unemployment rate that we already have. So…” [Pat Toomey, 11/11/13]

Toomey On Raising The Federal Minimum Wage: “It’s A Terrible Idea. It Guarantees To Prevent Job Creation For People Who Need It Most – Young People, Young People With Low Skill.” According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “During his meeting with the editorial board, Toomey spoke about the health-care fight, Senate gridlock, and mounting violence in Egypt. He also voiced strong opposition to raising the minimum wage, an idea pressed by Obama and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat. ‘It’s a terrible idea,’ Toomey said. ‘It guarantees to prevent job creation for people who need it most – young people, young people with low skill.’ Businesses, he said, can only ‘pay an amount of money that’s commensurate to what a person’s able to produce.’ Increasing pay would mean less hiring, he said.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/21/13]

Toomey Opposed Minimum Wage Increase To More Than $10 An Hour Because He Said It Would Price People Out Of Work. According to the Herald-Standard, “The senator was questioned about his stance on the minimum wage, which is contrary to the administration’s support of raising the current hourly rate from $7.25 to over $10. The concern, he said, is that the salary is likely in-line with the job duties and to require employers to increase the hourly wage will likely eliminate the position because it is now too costly. ‘There will be people priced out of work and some that will get a raise from those employers that can afford (the increase),’ he said.” [Herald-Standard, 8/6/14]

Published: Apr 19, 2016

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