by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is endorsing 18 House Democrats who voted in favor of raising the federal minimum wage to $15, a policy the business group said would cost the country 3.7 million jobs.
The endorsements are part of a decision from the group’s political advocacy committee to back a slate of 23 freshman House Democrats and 29 freshman Republicans, according to an internal memo obtained by the Hill. Of the 23 Democrats endorsed by the chamber, 18 voted in favor of the Raise the Wage Act of 2019, which would more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025.
The endorsements could alienate top conservative donors and members, threatening the chamber’s historical status as a Republican electoral powerhouse. The group backed just seven Democrats in 2018—compared with 191 Republicans—and has given nearly $3.1 million in direct contributions to Republicans since 2000. The chamber was also a strong proponent of the 2017 tax cuts championed by President Donald Trump, crediting the move with “unleashing a new era of growth for the American economy.”
By contrast, the chamber has vehemently opposed the Raise the Wage Act. Executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley urged House members to vote against it in a July 2019 letter, citing a then-recent Congressional Budget Office report. The report found that the bill “would have disruptive impacts on employers, particularly small businesses, as well as negative effects on the job opportunities for first and lower skilled workers,” according to Bradley.
“The report stated that, when fully implemented, a $15 per hour minimum wage could result in as many as 3.7 million workers losing jobs and total real family income dropping by $9 billion,” Bradley wrote. …
… Competitive Enterprise Institute research fellow Sean Higgins questioned the endorsements, telling the Washington Free Beacon that there’s “no strong, rational argument” for a nationwide $15 minimum wage.