Both parties seize on CBO minimum wage report

The Morning Line

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday became instant fodder for Democrats and Republicans looking for the political high ground in the debate over whether to raise the federal minimum wage.

The CBO found that increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour would boost earnings for 16.5 million Americans and lift 900,000 people out of poverty. But the report also projected that the wage hike could reduce employment by 500,000 workers by 2016.

“As with any such estimates, however, the actual losses could be smaller or larger,” the CBO noted, adding that its assessment found “there is about a two-thirds chance that the effect would be in the range between a very slight reduction in employment and a reduction in employment of 1.0 million workers.”

The White House disputed the CBO’s estimate on Tuesday, with the head of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Jason Furman, telling reporters on a conference call that the study did not “reflect the overall consensus view of economists.”

“When you look at some of the highest quality studies in all of it, I think it’s completely reasonable to think it would have zero impact on employment,” Furman said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meanwhile, touted the other findings in the CBO release. “No matter how the critics spin this report, the CBO made it absolutely clear: raising the minimum wage would lift almost one million Americans out of poverty, increase the pay of low-income workers by $31 billion, and help build an economy that works for everyone,” she said in a statement.

Republicans said the analysis proved their argument that raising the minimum wage would hamper job growth and add to the hiring costs of businesses.

“Today’s CBO report shows that raising the minimum wage could destroy as many as 1 million jobs, a devastating blow to the very people that need help most in this economy,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“This report confirms what we’ve long known: while helping some, mandating higher wages has real costs, including fewer people working,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “With unemployment Americans’ top concern, our focus should be creating – not destroying – jobs for those who need them most.”

The CBO report comes as both parties made expanding economic opportunity part of their agendas heading into the midterm elections this fall.

The president and congressional Democrats have made the wage push a centerpiece of their strategy, with Mr. Obama last week signing an executive order to require federal contractors to pay workers a base of $10.10 an hour.

Recent polling suggests that Democrats have the advantage when it comes to public support for a minimum wage hike. A Pew Research Center survey released last month found that 73 percent of Americans back such legislative action.

The velocity of the responses Tuesday to the CBO report reflect the importance both parties see in winning the debate. For Democrats, they need to maintain public support for raising the minimum wage in order to keep up the pressure on Republicans. For the GOP, chipping away at public support for a wage hike could take away a key issue from Democrats in the fall campaign.

Who is affected most by a federal minimum wage hike, Washington Post’s Niraj Choksji explains, depends on state minimum wages. Because the minimum wage varies by state, the ripple effect of a federal hike will result in higher wages in some states than in others.


  • A Quinnipiac University poll out Wednesday shows Ohio Gov. John Kasich holding a slim lead — 43 to 38 percent — over his possible Democratic challenger, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.

  • Roll Call’s Emily Cahn reports the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised its Republican counterpart in January. The DSCC hauled in $6.6 million last month while the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $4.6 million.

  • The president took another executive action Tuesday, outlining new fuel efficiency rules for trucks and buses as part of his administration’s push to limit carbon emissions and reduce oil imports.

  • The Obama administration’s big data technology used to target voters is proving less successful at identifying Americans to enroll in the Affordable Care Act.

  • Democratic Rep. Rush Holt announced Tuesday he will not run for a ninth term representing New Jersey’s 12th congressional district. Some Democrats, Roll Call’s Abby Livingston notes, are hoping a woman will be part of their delegation for the first time in 35 years.

  • Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Calif., will not seek a second term in Congress and instead will run for the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors this fall.

  • Former Rep. Joe Baca, who lost to Negrete McLeod in an all-Democratic contest in 2012, said her retirement would not alter his decision to seek outgoing Rep. George Miller’s 31st congressional district seat. In an interview with The Hill Baca also referred to Negrete McLeod as “some bimbo” and slammed DCCC Chair Steve Israel for meddling in California politics.

  • The NRCC has changed some of its websites that had made it look like donors were giving to Democratic congressional candidates when actually they were supporting GOP candidates.

  • The New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore looks at billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer’s commitment to spend as much as $100 million on the 2014 campaign to push lawmakers to move forward on climate change legislation.

  • Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., tells National Journal that being attacked by Steyer actually might help her re-election bid.

  • Big donors are also looking to get in on the action on the Republican side. Politico’s Alexander Burns and Ken Vogel report New York billionaire Paul Singer has launched an alliance of pro-business donors to help shape the direction of the GOP.

  • The New Jersey legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal will take to court Gov. Chris Christie’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien and former deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly to enforce its subpoenas. Stepien and Kelly had until Tuesday to respond to the request to turn over records.

  • Christie appeared at the NRSC’s winter policy meeting in Manhattan Tuesday, and National Journal’s Michael Catalini explains why Senate Republicans are still eager to invite Christie to fundraisers.

  • BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins spent 36 hours on the road with perpetual presidential tease Donald Trump.

  • Mr. Obama’s picks for global ambassadorships stumbled through recent confirmation hearings. The Washington Post’s Matt Delong listed all the foot-in-mouth moments and Juliet Eilperin explained how friendship with the president can play a role in appointments.

  • Financial Times’ Edward Luce takes a hard look at Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago mayorship and his possible return to Washington.

  • Mr. Obama sent a handwritten note to a University of Texas art history professor apologizing for his “off-the-cuff” remarks on the value of an art history degree versus vocational training.


  • It’s easy to get the entertainment you like delivered to your TV, phone or tablet on demand. Now, the same technology that deciphers your personal taste can aid political campaigns targeting undecided voters. Gwen Ifill spoke with University of San Francisco professor Ken Goldstein and Yale University assistant professor Eitan Hersh on Tuesday.

  • With recent gaffes from Mr. Obama’s political ambassadorial nominations sparking questions about their qualifications, Gwen Ifill spoke with former Foreign Service Officer Nicholas Burns and Walter Russell Mead of The American Interest.

  • Mark Shields and David Brooks weighed in on the passage of the debt limit bill, as well as the Republican support it took to pass it, and fresh enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act.


Ruth Tam contributed to this report.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter:

Support PBS NewsHour: