The House voted to raise the federal minimum wage Wednesday for the first time in a decade, to $7.25 an hour, as majority Democrats marched briskly through their 100-hour agenda at the dawn of a new Congress.
Ebullient Democrats stood and cheered as the final vote – 315-116 – was announced.
While it’s quite clear that poor people making more money is a good thing, it’s also just as clear that there’s nothing in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to enforce minimum wages of any kind. The first minimum wage laws in the US were introduced in 1938 under FDR. The government may claim that this is authorized under the commerce clause of the Constitution, but that is only for inter-state commerce, nothing further.
Under a classical analysis of a minimum wage, some low wage earners are helped by the higher minimum wage, some low wage earners lose their jobs because of the higher minimum wage, and businesses employing low wage earners face higher labor costs. A benefit is delivered to some low wage workers at the expense of other low wage workers and businesses employing low wage workers.
Many countries, such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Cyprus have no minimum wage laws, but rely on employer groups and trade unions to set minimum earnings through collective bargaining.
The Tenth Amdenment Center demands that the federal government stick to the powers that are explicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution is not just a good idea, it’s the law.
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