Today, another burden is being placed on America’s small businesses. Effective on this date is the third installment of the increase of the minimum wage that was passed in 2007. Once again, our federal government has provided not a help, but a hindrance to our economic recovery.
When the three-phase minimum wage increase was initially signed into law in May 2007, the unemployment rate was 4.5%, and when the first phase went into place, the unemployment rate was 4.6%. Today it stands at 9.5%.
At a time of record deficits, uncertainty of increased taxes, the looming prospect of government takeover of the healthcare system, and a national energy tax, small businesses simply cannot afford this final wage increase.
Yesterday, I introduced H.R. 3309, the Small Business Job Security Act. My legislation will delay the third and final stage of the federal minimum wage increase on July 24, 2009 for one year. At that point, Congress should reassess the economic climate taking into account the unemployment rate. Because it takes effect today, if passed after the fact, the minimum wage would revert to $6.55, the rate it was yesterday.
This bill is not meant to disparage the millions of men and women in minimum wage jobs who depend on this raise to provide for their family. Quite the contrary, it is a way to help secure those jobs, and to prevent those businesses that employ them from closing down.
This legislation represents a fundamental approach to addressing the economic crisis facing our nation. The Republican approach is to provide relief for small businesses, not burden them with costly minimum wage increases, higher taxes, or new government mandates.
The economic challenges that face our nation will not be solved overnight and they will not be solved without sacrifice. But that sacrifice should not be dispersed unequally across our society, especially on a segment that can be the primary driver of this recovery.
We have failed to grasp the long-term implications of our actions in our attempt to fix our economic situation. We have too often decided to act now, think later– or more accurately, spend now, pay later. This type of decision will not secure long-term economic stability. As we have seen by the aforementioned stimulus, it doesn’t even do so in the short term either.
The actions of this Congress should reflect a thoughtful and deliberate attempt to restrain spending, decrease our debt, and give those who can create jobs to do so. We clearly have a long way to go, but this legislation is a step in that direction.
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