WASHINGTON — As the recession continues to weigh heavily on the livelihoods of millions, the Fox News Channel on Monday suggested that lowering the minimum wage could be “better for workers.”
“The minimum wage is kind of like a sacred cow in Washington, with many, many lawmakers thinking it’s a win-win for low-skilled workers,” said Fox anchor Juliet Huddy. “But what if those good intentions backfired?”
“One school of thought says lowering the minimum wage will actually create more jobs,” she continued, without mentioning any counterargument.
Laws enacted by Congress following the Democratic takeover in 2007 have increased the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour as of this July. Prior to that, the minimum wage hadn’t been raised since 1997.
Inviting Fox News correspondent James Rosen to discuss the issue, Huddy first asked him: “Why don’t we often hear about lowering the minimum wage?”
Rosen said the recent minimum wage hike has set off “a furious debate” over its efficacy, and cited a 2008 paper called “Minimum Wages” by David Neumark and William Wascher that argued against the minimum wage. He called it a “landmark study.”
To bolster his case, Rosen quoted Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane as recently saying that cutting the minimum wage “would create some jobs for those who need them most.”
Rosen said it’s unlikely to happen because of Democratic lawmakers who oppose it for reasons of “social justice.” Republicans who favor it, he said, do so because of “macroeconomics.”
Fox then played a clip of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) dubbing the minimum wage “a minimum level of justice,” along with one of Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) saying it will “artificially raise the cost of hiring people.”
At no point in the segment did either Huddy or Rosen mention an academic case in favor of the minimum wage — they merely reduced that side of the argument to the nebulous concept of “social justice.”
There are, however, accredited economic cases in favor of a strong minimum wage.
One famous study by David Card and Alan B. Krueger called “Minimum Wages and Employment” illustrated various ways by which increasing the minimum wage could decrease unemployment. Its research methods and conclusions have been endorsed by Nobel Laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz.
Another is a 2004 research paper by the Economic Policy Institute called “No Longer Getting By,” which finds, among other things, that a robust minimum wage helps mitigate poverty and strengthens consumer purchasing power through periods of inflation.
Although the economy has picked up, job growth remains meek and unemployment is at 10 percent. Americans are anxious for solutions that would create jobs and mitigate their financial woes. According to Fox News, cutting the minimum wage is one answer to their problems.
This video is from Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, broadcast Dec. 14, 2009.
–David Edwards contributed to this report