Minimum Wage Increase is a Done Deal
President Bush signaled support for raising the federal minimum wage, suggesting the White House is looking for an early deal with Democrats on one of their priorities next year.
"I support the proposed $2.10 increase in the minimum wage over a two-year period," Mr. Bush told reporters at a year-end news conference, calling it an "area where we can work together" with Democratic leaders. At another point, he said that along with education, it is a "key" area where "we've got to work together" with Democrats.
Isn't that a perfect example of "bipartisan consensus?"
P.J. O'Rourke on bipartisan consensus: "I like legislative gridlock. What I hate is bipartisan consensus. Bipartisan consensus is like when my doctor and my lawyer agree with my wife that I need help."
Question: Why not pass legislation to index the minimum wage with automatic annual increases at the rate of inflation?
Answer: Probably because it doesn't give politicians any future political payoffs. The current bipartisan consensus about the minimum wage illustrates a typical pattern: Democrats propose a minimum wage increase, Republicans at first resist, but eventually concede and give reluctant, delayed support, but then BOTH parties can take credit for "helping" the unskilled workers by pricing many of them out of the labor market with an increase in the minimum wage. With an indexed minimum wage, the political payoff to both parties would end forever.