Another week, another polarizing result from the (nonpartisan) Congressional Budget Office. The new one, which was released yesterday, is about how a minimum-wage increase would affect employment and family income around the country. Like the last report, which had some controversial projections about the Affordable Care Act's effects on the labor force, it's given ammunition to both sides in Washington: to Democrats (who have been calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage in recent months) and Republicans (who oppose it). According to the CBO's projections hiking the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from the current $7.25, would indeed increase overall compensation to low-wage workers by some $31 billion. But the number of workers who would benefit would, per CBO, decline, as companies reduce the number of workers to contain labor costs; total employment would decline by about 500,000 people.Jay Bookman:
I wanted to offer a comment on this because I've repeatedly argued in favor of raising the minimum wage, specifically in Texas (which is one of the states where the minimum wage is, by default, the same as the federal minimum). I made that argument in my book, and elaborated on it here at Texas Monthly, exactly one year ago. I still think raising the minimum wage would be a good idea--especially in Texas. I'll explain why after the jump.
So who's right? Maybe nobody. The answer is so muddled that even the CBO notes that it has merely a 66 percent confidence level that the jobs impact will be between its projected range of neglible and 1 million jobs lost. There's a 33 percent chance the policy could have an impact on either end of that range.More politics and policy below the fold.
That uncertainty was also reflected in a survey of top economists by the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business last year. Asked whether an increase in the minimum wage to $9 an hour "would make it noticeably harder for low-skilled workers to find employment," 34 percent of the economists said yes, 32 percent said no and the rest said they didn't know.
Given all that, I'm willing to accept the CBO projection of 500,000 jobs loss as a reasonable, neighborhood guesstimate of the tradeoffs involved in raising the minimum wage. If we keep squabbling over that number, we never get to the more interesting and productive debate, so let's set it aside for the moment.
As I’ve noted before, the notion that Republicans have the luxury of waiting on immigration reform is a fantasy. It will only get harder to embrace reform later.WaPo:
But beyond the politics, there’s a substantive problem with Republicans deferring action: Specifically, doing nothing now is tantamount to supporting a status quo that even Republicans acknowledge is untenable.
The moral case for reform as an alternative to an unacceptable status quo — a humanitarian crisis that is hurting untold numbers of people — has motivated many evangelicals to get involved in the push to fix the immigration system. And today, evangelical writer Jim Wallis makes that moral case by painting a vivid picture of the dilemma the country currently faces:
Alex Ovechkin is going home in the first round of the playoffs. Sidney Crosby’s team somehow survives. And Dan Bylsma is outcoaching everyone, even when he doesn’t always have the best players on the ice.Charles Blow:
Disconcerting, no? I walked into the Olympic hockey tournament Wednesday and a Washington Capitals season broke out.
There is no joy in Putinville today. Sochi and beyond is suffering. After futbol, the only team the entire nation cares about lost.
Ovi was wrong, the “cost of gold” was not $50 billion for 143 million Russians; no, $50 billion was the cost of being knocked out in the same quarterfinal round as Latvia (pop. 2.02 million).
Somewhere, President Vladimir Puckhead is fuming “Go! Take the West’s millions. Lose to Scandinavian pacifists. Fetisov and Kharlamov would not let this happen. Makarov and Larionov would not let this happen. The stray dogs Pussy Riot wants to adopt would not let this happen!”
The Michael Dunn case has caused us to look once again at the American culture and criminal justice system, and many don’t like what they see.EJ Dionne:
But we shouldn’t look at this case narrowly and see its particular circumstances as the epitome of the problem. They are not. The scope of the problem is far more expansive, ingrained and elusive.
This is simply one more example of the bias against — and in fact violence, both psychological and physical, against — the black body, particularly black men, that extends across society and across their lifetimes. And this violence is both interracial and intra-racial.
The law is supposed to solve problems, not create them. Laws should provide as much clarity as possible, not expand the realms of ambiguity and subjectivity. Laws ought to bring about the practical results their promoters claim they’ll achieve. And at its best, the law can help us to live together more harmoniously.This story from the Atlantic, on fraternities, is too well written to ignore:
By all these measures, “stand your ground” laws are a failure. These statutes make the already difficult task of jurors even harder. They aggravate mistrust across racial lines. They appear to increase, rather than decrease, crime.
One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.