In the wake of Democratic complaints that Republicans blocked a minimum-wage increase Wednesday, Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, made the following statement:
Senate Democrats’ hypocrisy on the minimum wage is breathtaking. They talk about fighting for workers, yet they colluded with some of the world’s most powerful financial interest groups to pass an immigration bill that would reduce Americans’ wages and surge their unemployment. They’ve named their campaign ‘a fair shot for everyone’ but a more accurate name would be ‘a fair shot for everyone but American workers.’
Majority Leader Reid and his conference seem to have forgotten the law of supply and demand — the surplus of labor is pushing wages down, and yet Democrats want to provide companies with twice as many new guest workers and permanent residents. Meanwhile, the president continues to allow companies to hire illegal workers in place of unemployed U.S. workers.
Research from Harvard professor Dr. George Borjas shows that American workers lose an average of $400 billion in wages each year due to competition from lower-cost workers brought into the U.S. from abroad. In order to push wages up for all workers — whether they’re now earning $7, $10, or $20 dollars an hour, or they’re unemployed and earning no wage at all — we need to tighten the labor market. If we raise the wage floor while expanding the labor supply, the result is predictable: millions of American workers will be pushed out of the labor force entirely. The long-term unemployed, younger workers, and those without high school diplomas, will be hardest hit. If an employer has a minimum wage slot to fill, that employer in many instances will hire a new guest worker over someone who been out of the workforce for many years. Indeed, from 2000–2013, all net job gains went to immigrant workers. Under the Senate Democrat economic plan, this trend will continue. If Senate Democrats really want to give every worker a fair shot, the answer is not a one-size-fits-all-circumstances wage, but an immigration policy that is more compassionate to American workers.
Washington can’t rewrite the law of supply and demand: we can’t rebuild our middle class if we continue to bring in record numbers of new workers for companies to hire at the lowest available wage.
Editor’s Note: This post has been amended since its initial posting.