It’s taken a while, but the $1.9 trillion stimulus package was finally passed by the House on in the early hours of Feb. 27, although it now goes to the Senate for approval before being placed on President Joe Biden’s desk to sign. More likely, it will go from the Senate back to the House. As with previous relief bills, the Democrats tried to insert items that really have nothing to do with providing pandemic relief to the nation and everything to do with trying to push their agenda through by any means necessary.
However, it was a great disappointment to the left that the $15-per-hour national minimum wage raise was nixed by the Senate parliamentarian, so the Dems have come up with another plan to implement this goal: fine and tax companies that don’t pay their employees the required amount.
Proposed Tax Penalties
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Democrats concocted a plan that would put a penalty on businesses of a certain size that refuse to pay their employees at least $15 per hour. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the chairman of the Finance Committee said the proposal is still under consideration and evolving, but the idea is to impose an escalating tax on large corporations’ payrolls.
The tax would start at 5% and would have “safeguards” in place to prevent companies from getting around the legislation by laying off workers to replace them with contract employees. “While conversations are continuing, I believe this ‘Plan B’ provides us a path to move forward and get this done through the reconciliation process,” Wyden said in a statement.
Mr. Wyden included an incentive for small businesses “with middle-class owners,” offering them an income tax credit to cover roughly 25% of wages up to $10,000 per year. Not all were on board with this tax plan, as some progressives wondered how the proposal would be enforced since it would have to rely on federal officials to keep tabs on, research, and collect data on employee pay and hours.
Austen Jensen is the senior vice president for government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. He argued that placing such a tax on companies could be devastating after businesses have suffered the past 12 months of closures and restrictions due to the COVID pandemic. Threatening businesses during this time, he said, “should be a nonstarter for anyone who cares about economic recovery and getting furloughed workers back on private sector payrolls.”
Executive Vice President and the chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Neil Bradley took to social media in frustration. “Enough political games,” he tweeted. Liberty Nation’s Andrew Moran explained why politicians have to put on such a show:
“So, why the political theater? It is comparable to George Costanza in Seinfeld when he appears perturbed to give the illusion he is busy. Politicians, too, seem to engage in this frenzy and chaos to reaffirm their self-importance, much to struggling Americans’ dismay.”
GOP Compromise Offers
Some Republicans are not averse to increasing the minimum wage since the last time it was updated was 2009. However, their approach centers on increments instead of sudden hikes. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) offered a proposal that would increase wages to $10 per hour over four years. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) proposed a larger increase, trying to respectfully and more feasibly meet the Dems demand of $15 per hour, but only to businesses that had revenues of more than $1 billion a year.
Seattle, WA is already experiencing repercussions from mandating a $4-per-hour raise for grocery workers. Two of its QFC stores are closing due to the new law – after suffering through tough state restrictions and the siege of city streets during the CHOP affair in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The stores had been operating in the red for some time already.
While it seems admirable of the left to try to help the people, it should be remembered that their job is to help all the people, including business owners. Those who have been laid off or had their hours cut due to pandemic demands have been able to get unemployment with a few hundred extra dollars a week. Business owners, however, have had to close doors, limit the number of customers inside buildings, update stores with pandemic-approved protections, and yet are offered loans and threats of penalties and fines if they do not increase wages. Where will Americans find employment as so many small businesses (and some large franchises) have to shut down?
Read more from Kelli Ballard.