Dem on Opponents of Minimum Wage Hike: They're ‘Standing on Throat of Our Economy’

By Penny Starr | April 7, 2014 | 10:29 AM EDT

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) (AP Photo)

( – Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Republicans who oppose increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour are “standing on the throat of the economy.”

“So what are the Republicans doing when they won’t vote for the minimum wage?” Miller said. “They’re standing on the throat of our economy.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) joined labor union leaders and at a rally on Thursday that culminated an 11-state bus tour to push for the pay hike.

Miller said raising the minimum wage would help economic recovery.

“Because the economy is sluggish and your wages are the key to the recovery, we have to increase those wages,” Miller said. “That’s what this is about.”

Miller said Democrats would continue to push for the increase and claimed that in cities and states where the minimum wage has increased, the economy has improved.

“You can’t build a vibrant economy on the back of low-wage workers who don’t get a livable wage, who don’t get a decent wage,” Miller said. “It won’t work, and in those cities that have raised the minimum wage, there’s more activity. There’s more hiring. More people are eating out. That’s the facts.

“So what are the Republicans doing when they won’t vote for the minimum wage?” Miller said. “They’re standing on the throat of our economy.

“Our economy is gasping for air, trying to grow, and the Republicans are standing on the throat, because they could pass the minimum wage tonight – tomorrow morning, but they won’t do it,” Miller said.

In February, Ramesh Ponnuru, a Bloomberg View columnist, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor for National Review, wrote about why raising the minimum wage might hurt low-wage workers.

“Raising the minimum wage is not an effective tool against poverty, either. A 2010 study found that state poverty rates were unaffected by minimum-wage increases,” Ponnuru wrote. “It also found that if the minimum wage were raised to $9.50 an hour from $7.25, only 11 percent of the beneficiaries would be people who live in poor households.

“Forty-two percent would be people living in households making more than three times the poverty line (which means they’re well above the country’s median household income),” Ponnuru wrote.

“My American Enterprise Institute colleague Michael Strain puts it this way: ‘Hundreds of thousands of low-skill workers are trying to find a job but can’t. Is it really the right time to raise the cost of hiring and make it harder for businesses to hire them? Some studies say a higher minimum wage will lower employment; some say employment will remain unchanged. Shouldn’t we err on the side of caution?’”

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