Congress is continuing to work out the details of yet another coronavirus relief package — and, once again, Democrats are looking to exploit the opportunity.
According to Business Insider, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) confirmed rumors on Thursday that her caucus is looking to stick a provision raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour into the new COVID-19 relief bill.
“Yes, it will,” Pelosi told reporters when asked if the minimum wage bump would be included in the House’s version of the deal. “And we’re very proud of that.”
The big plan
Pelosi’s admission came during her weekly press conference, when she conceded that Dems will be moving forward on the wage bump despite it being a highly contentious issue that has little to do with the ongoing pandemic.
“In the bill, it gradually raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour, increases paychecks — in doing so, increases paychecks for 27 million workers and pulling nearly a million people out of poverty,” Pelosi said Thursday, according to a transcript from her office.
Pressed to elaborate by a reporter, Pelosi said “27 million people will get a raise, 70% of them women. And we will be sending that,” she promised, according to the transcript.
Take a look for yourself:
NEW: Speaker Pelosi says the coronavirus relief bill that House plans to send to Senate will include a minimum wage increase to $15/hour. pic.twitter.com/gAB3CQ1mqa
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 11, 2021
The bottom line
According to Business Insider, hiking up the minimum wage was long a sticking point in now-President Joe Biden’s agenda — but even a few moderate Democrats aren’t on board with the idea.
The current plan put forward by the House, which was just passed Wednesday by the House Committee on Education and Labor, would increase the federal minimum wage incrementally over the next four years until it reaches $15 per hour in 2025.
According to an analysis of the proposed increase by the purportedly nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), such a methodology has pros and cons. As noted by Pelosi, the CBO predicted that the measure would positively — if marginally — impact the earnings of roughly 27 million low-wage workers and would lift approximately 900,000 Americans out of poverty.
However, the CBO also noted that an increased minimum wage would result in increased prices for most consumer items, add about $54 billion to the federal budget deficit, and lead to around 1.4 million workers losing their jobs — with an unmentioned and unknowable number of small businesses shutting their doors for good because they would be incapable of affording the artificially inflated labor costs. Is it really worth it?