Minimum wage debates are heating up as Democrats and Republicans make a push toward the White House.
The United States could be walking into uncharted territory.
If the national minimum wage increases to $15—as has been proposed by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders—the United States will have the highest minimum wage in the world. But that’s not the only push: Cities and states around the country are looking at their own potential increases, too.
With Pres. Barack Obama’s term coming to a close and Democrats and Republicans fighting to win the presidency, the dispute on increasing the minimum wage has heightened even more. Here’s a quick breakdown on what both sides have been saying on the issue of minimum wage:
Republicans: Raising the minimum wage will bring havoc to the economy.
Republicans have fought minimum wage hikes throughout the years—and that’s no different this election.
The top three GOP candidates, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, agree that raising the minimum wage would devastate the national economy by forcing businesses to cut jobs and raise prices to offset increasing labor costs. Plus, increases would ultimately hurt the low-income community it seeks to protect in the first place, they say.
“Small businesses stay in business by providing stuff people want at prices they are willing to pay. To remain in business, prices must cover costs. Regulations like the minimum wage, paid family and sick leave requirements, health insurance mandates all raise the cost of labor which must be recovered through higher prices charged to customers in the neighborhood if the firm is to continue to provide jobs (and pizza),” he wrote.
Democrats: Increasing the minimum wage will help both employers and employees.
Democrats have said that an increase in the minimum wage will lift low-income families out of poverty and give financial security to middle-class Americans. Both presidential hopefuls have put minimum wage increases at the forefront of their campaigns.
“It is a national disgrace that millions of full-time workers are living in poverty and millions more are forced to work two or three jobs just to pay their bills,” Vermont senator Bernie Sanders said. “The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised to a living wage.”
A $15 minimum wage is “a risk not worth taking.”
Three years ago, SeaTac, a suburb of Seattle, Washington, was the first city to enact a $15 minimum wage ordinance. Cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco quickly followed suit—some with less-than-stellar results so far.
On a federal level, Alan Krueger, a Princeton University professor and the former chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, warns that a $15 minimum wage places the United States into “uncharted waters.”
“But $15 an hour is beyond international experience, and could well be counterproductive,” Krueger wrote in The New York Times. “Although some high-wage cities and states could probably absorb a $15-an-hour minimum wage with little or no job loss, it is far from clear that the same could be said for every state, city and town in the United States,” Kruger wrote. “Although the plight of low-wage workers is a national tragedy, the push for a nationwide $15 minimum wage strikes me as a risk not worth taking.”