Rep. Ro Khanna took the progressive left’s insistence on dictating what a business should pay unskilled labor to a whole new dimension on Sunday when the California Democrat declared that small businesses unwilling to pay what he deemed to be an acceptable wage should not exist.
Appearing in the friendly confines of CNN, Khanna was asked by host Abby Phillip if now is the time to be pushing a $15 minimum wage, given that many businesses are struggling to stay afloat amid the pandemic and government shutdowns.
There are reports that a provision to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is expected to remain in the Biden administration’s upcoming COVID-19 relief package.
“Businesses both large and small are struggling in this pandemic economy, more than 9 million jobs have been lost in the last year and they still aren’t back, and the problem is particularly acute in industries like retail and food service, which are more likely to pay minimum wage,” Phillip began, before asking her guest, “Is now the right time to increase it to $15?”
“It’s absolutely the right time to give working Americans a raise,” Khanna answered, sounding very much like an individual who has never had to meet a payroll.
The Congressional Budget Office said earlier this month that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would lead to the loss of 1.4 million jobs by 2025.
Ignoring the impact on small business, the lawmaker instead looked to retail giants like Amazon and Target to claim that raising wages will add jobs.
“Let’s look at the facts, Amazon raised their wage to $15 nationally, not regionally — they have more jobs today, it didn’t hurt job creation or business,” he claimed. “Target followed, they also did it nationally — more jobs.”
Citing a survey by Arindrajit Dube, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Khanna not only said there would be a “negligible effect on employment,” but “you can create jobs by paying people more so they are spending it more.”
(This being a play on the failed Keynesian economics seen during the Obama years.)
We have evidence that a national $15/hr wage works. Amazon & Target did it nationally and they have created more jobs. @arindube’s study shows that it has minimal negative job impact and can create more regional jobs by putting more money in people’s pockets. pic.twitter.com/s671VlfWL2
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) February 21, 2021
Phillips noted that large businesses like Amazon and McDonald’s “can and perhaps should pay more,” before asking about smaller businesses.
“How does this, in your view, affect mom and pop businesses who are just struggling to keep their doors open, keep workers on the payroll right now?” she asked.
Khanna offered a mouth-dropping response.
“Well, they shouldn’t be doing it by paying people low wages, we don’t want low-wage businesses,” the Democrat replied. “I think most successful small businesses can pay a fair wage. If you look at the minimum wage, it increased with worker productivity until 1968 and that relationship was severed.”
“If workers were actually getting paid for the value they were creating it would be up to $23,” Khanna stated. “So I love small businesses, I’m all for it, but I don’t want small businesses that are underpaying employees. It’s fair for people to be making what they are producing and I think $15 is very reasonable in this country.”
Khanna was blasted online, but that didn’t deter him, as he pushed back with the same argument that if you pay people more, businesses will “thrive.”
We can pay workers a living wage AND have small businesses thrive, including in rural. Putting more money in people’s pockets means they spend more in local communities. You can be pro worker and pro small business. That’s what most small business owners I meet believe.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) February 22, 2021
In that case, why not pay everyone $50 an hour? Or even $100 an hour?
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