The Corner

Minimum Wage: It’s a Toughie

Here’s a fascinating conundrum for you, if you can view this political analysis with a cool eye and keep moral passions out of it. Raising the minimum wage is for Democrats what, let’s say, the abolition of partial-birth abortion has been for Republicans — an issue that garners massive support from the populace but is anathema to elites. It’s easy to see the same thing happening with minimum-wage legislation on the Right that happened with partial-birth abortion legislation on the Left.

That is to say, Republican legislators and the President will feel themselves under extreme pressure to oppose minimum-wage legislation coming from people like us here on the Corner, who can recite chapter-and-verse on why raising the minimum wage is a terrible idea and why it hurts the very people it’s supposed to help.

Nothing will make Democrats happier politically than to see minimum-wage legislation blocked in whatever way it might be blocked by Republicans. If they lose it, they can just bring it up again and again and again near election time. They will have ad fodder for the next cycle in the mean GOP hostility to increasing the wages of working people. And so on.

Republican politicians will be hurt by this, and it will be more difficult for them to win office. So do you give them a bye on voting for a minimum-wage increase on the grounds that they need to do it to remain viable in pursuit of a 2009 majority, when they will be able to push other conservative ideas? Or do you fight for every last inch of ideological turf and brand GOP politicians as pernicious sellouts for caving into bad policy?