In the vanguard of the pushback is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who dismisses the minimum wage as a “stale” weapon in the war on poverty — worse, an ineffective one.
“Raising the minimum wage may poll well, but having a job that pays $10 an hour is not the American dream,” Rubio said in his recent speech marking the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s anti-poverty program. “Our current government programs offer at best only a partial solution. They help people deal with poverty, but they do not help them escape it.”
Those are strong words as the movement to raise the federal minimum from the current $7.25 an hour is launched by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) and the White House. (The lawmakers will be joined by chief White House economist Jason Furman at a forum on the topic on Tuesday in Washington.)
But Rubio’s wrong, according to recent research. A study by Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts concluded that the 39% increase in the federal minimum wage proposed by Harkin and Miller would immediately reduce the poverty rate among America’s nonelderly population by 1.7 percentage points. Over time, the reduction would be 2.5 points. That’s 4.6 million people lifted out of poverty immediately, and 6.8 million over time.