Republicans complain about welfare benefits for the poor, but they sure don't mind that corporate welfare one bit. Apparently, Sen. Lamar Alexander thinks it would be perfectly acceptable to have the taxpayers subsidize the profits of businesses who don't want to pay their employees minimum wage, and during a hearing this week, called for eliminating it altogether.
On the 75th anniversary of the landmark bill that established a minimum wage, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) called for abolishing it completely, the Huffington Post reports.
At a Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee meeting to mark 75 years since the signing of the Federal Labor Standards Act, which set a minimum wage and mandated overtime pay, Alexander, the ranking Republican on the committee, jumped into a discussion between a witness from the Heritage Foundation and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to say of the minimum wage, “I do not believe in it.” Sanders followed up, asking,
“So you do not believe in the concept of the minimum wage?”
“That’s correct,” Alexander responded.
“You would abolish the minimum wage?”
Alexander went on to call instead for a higher Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor and referenced a negative income tax. [...]
Despite claims by conservatives, studies have shown that raising the minimum wage would not kill jobs or hurt small businesses. In fact, raising the wage can actually help businesses in a variety of ways. Nor is a raise going to mostly impact teenagers working for spare change: Nearly 90 percent of minimum wage workers are 20 years old or older, and more than a quarter are parents. And even worse, there is evidence that making such a low wage can harm a worker’s child. Read on...
In February, President Obama pushed for an increase in the minimum wage, and soon after, a national poll found that by a nearly three-to-one margin, Americans agreed with him.
But among many congressional Republicans, there isn't just opposition to increasing the minimum wage, but also to the existence of a minimum wage. [...]
The GOP lawmaker said he preferred a "negative income tax" system and an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, though Alexander added he opposes these ideas, too -- he just sees them as less offensive than a minimum wage.
Such talk is increasingly common in Republican circles. For many years, the debate was partisan but limited -- Democrats pushed for minimum-wage increases; Republicans pushed for leaving the wage where it is, even as it lost its purchasing power. But as the GOP has become more radical, it's easier to find prominent Republicans rejecting the very idea of a minimum wage altogether.
Consider just the last few years.
In 2010 Senate races, for example, Republican nominees in Connecticut, Alaska, West Virginia, Kentucky, and the state of Washington all argued that they either oppose the minimum wage, consider its existence unconstitutional, or both. In March 2012, there was a debate among Republican Senate candidates in Missouri, most of whom argued for the elimination of the minimum wage. And a year later, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has obvious national ambitions, said he too is against the existence of a minimum wage.
Before the party's radicalization, Republican leaders used to champion a "living wage," and as recently as the 1970s, GOP support for wage controls, at least on a temporary basis, was not uncommon.
Today's GOP would have been unrecognizable to these Republicans of decades past.