Sen. Cruz: Minimum Wage Hike Would Cost Jobs for Young People, Hispanics, African Americans

Fred Lucas | February 13, 2013 | 6:26am EST
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (AP File Photo)

( – President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage  to $9 an hour from  the current $7.25 would harm the economy, some Republicans said Tuesday after the State of the Union address.  

“If you raise the minimum wage, the inevitable effect will be, number one, young people will lose their jobs or not be able to get their first jobs,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told

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“Unemployment among young people will go up if the minimum wage goes up as President Obama says. Unemployment among Hispanics, among African Americans, among those struggling to get their first job to climb the economic ladder, will go up.”

Cruz said his father, a Cuban immigrant who didn't speak English, got his first job as a dishwasher, making 50 cents an hour. "If President Obama had had his way, the minimum wage would have been raised from 50 cents to $2 and they wouldn’t be able to hire my dad,” Cruz said. “It would have cost him the first job that let him pay his way through college that led him to eventually building a small business.

"Every one of these policies tonight makes it harder on those struggling to achieve the American Dream. And I think they are wrongheaded solutions that don’t serve the best interests of the American people.”

During the State of the Union address, Obama said the richest country on earth should pay some people more. In making the argument, he injected his familiar insinuation that while some people earn too little, others earn too much.

We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages,” Obama said. “But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong. That’s why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, 19 states have chosen to bump theirs even higher.

“Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty," Obama said. Raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour is something Congress should be able to get done, he added.

“This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. And a whole lot of folks out there would probably need less help from government.

"In fact, working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher.  So here’s an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year -- let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said a minimum-wage hike "needs to be looked at very carefully. In general, mandating price and wage factors are not good policy, in my opinion. But I’m telling you, the middle class in America is hurting," Sessions said.

“We’ve got a lot of problems both in the ability to get jobs; and wages have been stagnant. So as always, the government likes to come in and say, we’re just going to pass a law to raise the wages,” Sessions continued. “But what we need to do is create a growing economy and drive wages up -- not to $9 an hour, but $15, $18, $20 an hour. That’s the kind of thing we need to be looking at, and that comes only from economic growth, and an unwise minimum wage may even do damage.”

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