Obama's Minimum Wage Ploy Hurts the Working Poor

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- President Obama put his political fortunes ahead of the least prosperous citizens by badgering Republicans in Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

In 1938, Congress established the federal minimum wage and has periodically raised it to accommodate inflation. Currently at $7.25 per hour, it appears woefully inadequate to fair-minded Americans, and the president feeds this sentiment by carping that it's worth 20% less than when Harry Truman was president.

What Obama doesn't tell voters is the minimum is sometimes paid to teenagers bagging groceries and college students on work-study jobs that are essentially masked financial aid. Moreover, adults earning the lowest wages have sources of income not available in Truman's days -- an earned income tax credit, food stamps and Medicaid. And employers of domestic workers now fund social security pensions and unemployment insurance -- an additional 8% in compensation generally not offered in Truman's time.

Liberal newspapers and cable networks are fond of rolling out single mothers, seemingly following the script of union-supported community activists and organizers, who recount they cannot afford to eat earning so little at McDonald's (MCD). Yet, they hardly ever appear malnourished, and correspondents never get around to asking how they use their food stamps or about child support payments they might receive.

Except for apologists for farmers that don't farm and academics hanging off the left edge of reality, economists don't like price fixing, whether perpetrated by unscrupulous businesses or politicians buying votes. After all, agricultural supports raises the price struggling mothers must pay for milk, clothing and other essentials for their families. The minimum wage makes hiring workers more expensive, eliminates jobs at the bottom of the ladder, and generally slows growth and raises unemployment.

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