By refusing to lift the minimal wage, Republicans are defrauding taxpayers and selling poverty
Last November, the bipartisan Government Accountability Office released a report confirming what was already well known: The American taxpayer is effectively paying the bill for the work that enables many of the country’s largest corporations to generate billions in profits.
Workers in many of America’s richest companies, including Walmart and McDonald’s, are among the primary beneficiaries of federal aid programs like Medicaid and grocery stamps.
In fact, it means that American taxpayers need to supplement so that workers in these companies can feed themselves – enough to eat, have access to medical care to keep themselves physically and mentally functional, to meet their basic needs in order to survive to stay The inadequate wages these companies pay while their profits rise and economic inequality in the US continues to worsen dramatically.
Yet Republicans would lead us to believe that raising the minimum wage will damage the economy by placing undue burden on companies like Walmart, McDonald’s, Kroger, Amazon, and Dollar General – some of the worst offenders when it comes to American taxpayers relieve their employees’ ability to subsidize their lives and work – somehow it is perfectly affordable for the average American to take the bill for these companies and their shareholders, but not receive any part of their profits.
Indeed, it is clear that the Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage to livable standards is part of their long-standing overall strategy to continue to transfer the nation’s wealth to the richest among us and to attack American workers.
Republicans cheat American taxpayers and workers.
And let’s be clear that the lion’s share of federal aid recipients – 70% of the 21 million – work full-time.
The party of so-called personal responsibility means that quite literally. People have to be responsible for themselves, but companies don’t seem to be.
And to be fair, we should acknowledge that part of the Republican opposition to the minimum wage increase is that it would really hurt small businesses.
In many ways this argument, which is a projection rather than a topicality, is refuted by empirical reality. Since 2009, 24 states and the District of Columbia have adopted minimum wage increases, and fears that the prospect of significant job losses is likely to be unfounded have proven unfounded. In some cases, jobs have actually been created because rising wages stimulate the economy; and where there was job loss, it was minimal.
And if they’re that concerned about small businesses, Republicans could suggest what they did in 2007, when the minimum wage was last raised: add small business tax credits.
But even this discussion doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter.
Instead, we need to look at what is really being said when it is argued that legislation that workers earn a living wage would harm small businesses and, consequently, the economy.
Is this really an economy that we want to support? One that depends on people who live in poverty?
Should we really be looking at a successful company whose survival depends on workers living in poverty?
Republicans really say that.
It’s like they’re saying, “Well, we’re going to really hurt these little plantations if we take slave labor away from them.”
Of course, that’s not that far-fetched. Let’s not forget that Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s legislative efforts to ban the New York Times 1619 Project from teaching in schools were based on his worldview that the series basically gave slavery a bad name and need a brutal enslavement of people unrecognized to build the richest economy in the world.
This thinking, as I have pointed out elsewhere on the PoliticusUsa pages assessing Cotton’s perspective, is only wrong if one believes we have to choose between a humane and a prosperous economy. History shows that a humane economy is indeed the most efficient and productive economy.
And this historical truth also applies to the increase in the minimum wage.
For example, a study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute shows how raising the minimum wage would significantly improve the Illinois economy. The study went on to say, “By raising the minimum wage, Illinois can increase workers’ incomes, reduce income inequality, increase consumer spending, boost the economy, generate tax revenue, and reduce tax costs on government aid programs.”
In short, raising the minimum wage to $ 15 would save taxpayers money by reducing the need for public support for the working poor ($ 87 million in food stamp spending, according to the study alone) and revenue for the state increase income and sales taxes ($ 380 million in new state tax revenue, according to study) and $ 19 billion in total economic activity.
With such a scenario, the state could actually cut taxes, put money in the pockets of working taxpayers and still increase state revenues.
While Republicans like to falsely claim that tax cuts for the rich will be amortized by increased economic activity, in fact, if the minimum wage is increased, they will.
From a cultural point of view, doesn’t capitalism pretend to want self-sufficient people and to reduce the scope of the welfare state?
What we see here is that the alignment of resources through public policy, not as with Trump’s tax cuts on the rich, but on workers, is more than likely contributing more to the health of the economy and society as a whole.
Of course, Republicans don’t really want that. Despite their efforts to present themselves as a party of the working class, their real agenda is simply to make the rich richer and the rest of us as poor as possible.
Tim Libretti is a professor of American literature and culture at a Chicago state university. A longtime progressive voice, he has published numerous academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, and the National Federation of Press Women and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.