CBO just went and fouled up a great Democratic election issue

Written by . Posted in 2014 Campaigns, Issue Watch

Published on February 18, 2014

CaptureThe non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has just released an estimate that an increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour could result in the loss of up to 1 million jobs. (CBO’s “central estimate” is 500,000 jobs.)

This is very inconvenient for Democrats. You can look at this on its merits as a policy question (as I did here), but the fact is, a raise to the minimum wage is quite popular. This won’t change that fact, but it throws a bucket of cold water on the hot brand. It renders an important election year talking point for Democrats a lot less useful than it might have been.

We already know that Republicans are going to campaign on Obamacare. Judging by the polls of several Democratic incumbents who have weathered anti-Obamacare ads, it’s working pretty well so far. They can also talk about the economy if it continues to struggle. So Democrats need something to hit back with. This (along with more or less fake issues like Mediscare and the War on Women) seemed like a good candidate to be that retaliatory weapon. 

But now there’s a pre-packaged answer your Republican senator can use as to why he voted against (or failed to support) a minimum wage increase: “The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said it would throw up to one million Americans out of work, and I didn’t want that!” It won’t sway everyone, but it sounds reasonable and it blunts the attack.