Conservatives argue with certainty — because economics is in their mind only a subject mastered by other conservatives — that raising the minimum wage is literally the worst thing for businesses and the economy. They claim that no matter what it costs jobs (even though they can never point to a single point in time when it was increased and it caused a spike in unemployment). They also claim the costs get passed onto the consumers, which is true usually but considering most businesses try to pass off as much of the cost to consumer in an effort to recoup and profit as much as possible, that’s not really the argument I want to get into.
To be fair to them, there is absolutely a point at which you could price a company out from being able to hire someone. But a phased-in increase, even to $200 an hour, wouldn’t really do that as long as the economy grows enough to cover the increase in the wages. Just looking at a state like Washington that has had their minimum wage tied to inflation and cost of living numbers since the late 90’s without any huge downturn in the business sectors conservatives always warn will be taken over by robots and kiosks shows us it’s possible to not keep minimum wage stagnant for years while also not causing harm to the economy.
But what if I told you that a conservative group surveyed over 1000 businesses and found that 8 out of 10 of them actually support raising the minimum wage? Because that literally happened. As reported by The Washington Post, LuntzGlobal, the polling company run by power conservative Frank Luntz, surveyed a thousand businesses and 80% of them said they support raising the minimum wage. Of course, we only found out about the report because a liberal watchdog group obtained it surreptitiously, but the bottom line is that even a conservative report found overwhelming support for raising the minimum wage among the very people that one would assume would fight it hardest — businesses.
The survey of 1,000 business executives across the country was conducted by LuntzGlobal, the firm run by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, and obtained by a liberal watchdog group called the Center for Media and Democracy. (The slide deck is here, and the full questionnaire is here.) Among the most interesting findings: 80 percent of respondents said they supported raising their state’s minimum wage, while only eight percent opposed it. (source)
And that’s not all. The same report shows huge support for increasing paid family leave time too. So basically, behind closed doors and when asked privately, pretty much everyone supports these pro-labor ideas of better pay and leave for family emergencies.
I’m not arguing that this one report proves that every single corporation in America is hiding the fact they can afford to pay their workers more. There are definitely nuanced issues in a country as big as ours that preclude us from telling every small business the need to immediately increase their employees’ pay. But what I am suggesting is that this, like so many tropes the conservatives tell us are undeniable, universal fact, is really just more smoke and mirrors and conjecture, and not much else.
Ultimatley, this report just leaves me with one, simple question to ask anyone who’s willing to anser: If 800 companies in just one conservative survey came out in support of raising the minimum wage, how many more of them are out there? Because the answer to that question, whatever it may be, leads me — and I suspect a lot of others — to believe this is just one more bullshit right-wing talking point exposed for what it is — an excuse for the greedy to be greedy with impunity.