New Hampshire Republican Congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia dismissed raising the minimum wage as a "wedge issue" by President Barack Obama's administration that actually wouldn't help people and instead is just a "petty, short-sighted type of little issue."
Garcia, considered a rising star among conservative Republicans, made the comments Monday evening during an interview with Chris Ryan on his Pints and Politics show on WKXL in Concord, New Hampshire. The comments were flagged by the opposition-research shop American Bridge.
"I voted against increasing the state minimum wage when I was in the legislature," Garcia said. "It seems to be sort of a petty — not punitive is the wrong word — but kind of just a petty, short-sighted type of little issue that the President's administration decided to champion for a time to then use as a wedge issue."
Garcia goes on to say that a minimum wage increase would be slight for the recipients but would be "catastrophic" for the job market. She also calls a hike "trite."
"Every employer I've talked to says —about deals with the minimum wage says 'look I will literally be laying people off.' Now I ask you, is giving someone a dollar, $1.15 increase helpful or better for them than actually not losing that job to begin with?" Garcia continued. "So what you're doing is you're forcing people to choose between laying people off completely and losing their job or having a somewhat trite and meaningless wage —excuse me raise, and your wage that doesn't do in fact do anything to make your life more affordable, allow for the cost of living, help you heat your home, fill your car, and all these other —afford your healthcare— and all these things we're dealing with. So yeah, I'm opposed to raising it."
There's three problems with Garcia's argument: First, in a country where corporations continue to earn record profits, they have the money to invest back into labor costs. Her assumption that a raise in the minimum wage would have to immediately be compensated by firing people doesn't make fiscal sense.
Second, when multiple businesses increase wages for their lowest-paid employees, these employees have more money to spend into the local economy and all indications are that this is exactly what happens when there's a minimum wage hike. More money in the economy means growth, and growth means there's more business coming in to pay for these wage increases. Garcia doesn't make basic economic sense either. Imagine that.
Finally, her argument doesn't hold water from an empirical standpoint either. Washington State had up until recently the highest minimum wage in the country at $9.32 an hour. If Garcia's correct, then Washington State's unemployment rate should be well above the national average.
It's not. August 2014 it was 5.8%, below the country's 6.1% national average. Meanwhile, states that had the federal minimum wage at $7.25 an hour like Kentucky and North Carolina have higher than average unemployment, NC at 6.5% and KY at 7.4%. If raising the minimum wage is bad for the economy, then Washington State should have the worst unemployment in America.
It doesn't. The argument is silly.
But so is the Republican Party.