WASHINGTON – Boosting the minimum wage may cost as many as 500,000 people their jobs, said a new report from Congress’s financial scorekeeper that diminishes chances for an agreement on one of President Barack Obama’s priorities.
The effort by Obama and Senate Democrats to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour already faced opposition in the Republican-led House. Yesterday’s report from the Congressional Budget Office provided more fodder for Republicans who have been arguing the proposal would kill jobs.
“This is going to give some angst to Democrats,” said former Rep. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat.
The report also showed that raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour may lift about 900,000 Americans out of poverty, supporting Democrats’ arguments in favor of the legislation.
Still, Republicans said the potential job losses outweighed those findings. Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said the CBO report “confirms what we’ve long known.”
“With unemployment Americans’ top concern, our focus should be creating - not destroying - jobs for those who need them most,” Buck said in a statement.
Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, a Republican donor and former CEO of American International Group Inc., said his party was on the wrong side of the issue. A Jan. 8 poll by Quinnipiac University found that 71 percent of Americans, including 52 percent of Republicans, support a higher minimum wage.
“The Republicans must not be viewed as the party that killed it,” Greenberg said today in a Bloomberg Television interview. “If they do that, they’re going to have a tough time in the forthcoming elections. So from a practical point of view I’d hope they’d get it done.”