A higher minimum wage is a basic response to the low and stagnating wages that have long afflicted most Americans. It is not a cure-all, it is not new or visionary. It is a time-tested step in the direction of higher living standards, broader prosperity and a more stable economy.
If it is difficult to corral even Democrats in favor of what is by all measures a modest increase — from $7.25 an hour, its level since 2009, to $10.10 an hour by 2016 — what chance is there going forward for innovative and comprehensive policies and programs to address the nation’s economic challenges?
Some Democrats reportedly went weak kneed on the minimum wage following a report from the Congressional Budget Office which estimated that raising the wage to $10.10 could lead to the loss of 500,000 jobs over the next three years. That conclusion, however, is easily rebuttable, as explained in a recent editorial. A policymaker who would be dissuaded by the C.B.O. report was probably not serious about raising the minimum in the first place.