News / Economy

US Budget Agency Defends Wage Report After White House Criticism

Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf testifies before the House Budget Committee hearing on the nation's economic outlook, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 1, 2012.
Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf testifies before the House Budget Committee hearing on the nation's economic outlook, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 1, 2012.
Reuters
The head of the U.S. Congress' budget agency on Wednesday defended its findings that President Barack Obama's proposed minimum wage increase would cause job losses, a day after the White House criticized the agency's methodology.

White House officials have taken issue with the Congressional Budget Office's conclusion that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would lead to a loss of about half a million jobs by late 2016.

The administration's criticisms of the non-partisan CBO were unusual, given the respect that the agency commands from both Republicans and Democrats as Washington's referee on budget and economic issues.

CBO director Doug Elmendorf pushed back against suggestions the agency had not taken into account some research on the effects of raising the minimum wage.

“Our analysis is quite consistent with the latest thinking by economists,” he told reporters at an event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

The report, however, struck a nerve among Democrats, who are advocating a minimum wage of $10.10 - up from $7.25 now - along with allowing it to rise with inflation, as a winning issue for the party in congressional elections in November.

The report gave Republicans an avenue to attack this strategy, and they quickly issued statements claiming that the wage hike would “destroy” jobs. The report came just two weeks after a CBO budget analysis found that federal health insurance subsidies under Obama's signature health reform law would contribute to a reduction in workforce participation later this decade, increasing future deficits.

Obama administration officials were quick to dispute the CBO's employment findings in the minimum wage report, despite another finding more favorable to Democrats - that the wage hike would lift more than a million people out of poverty.

The rare criticism of the CBO continued on Wednesday, as top White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said the jobs finding was “an area where I'd say we respectfully disagree with the CBO.”

Sperling told MSNBC's Morning Joe program that many economists have found no negative jobs impact from lifting wages.

“I think their mistake was not looking at the practical research that was done,” Sperling said of the CBO.

600 Economists, no numbers

On Tuesday, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the report “contradicts” the findings of “hundreds of top economists, who predict that a maximum wage hike would actually stimulate the economy, raise demand and job growth, and provide help in job creation.”

In part, she was referring to a letter signed in January by more than 600 economists endorsing the $10.10 minimum wage proposal. These economists, mainly academics, wrote “the weight of evidence” showed that “increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.”

While Elmendorf, a Harvard-trained economist, did not directly respond to Pelosi's criticism, he said: “Those economists don't put numbers to their words, so it's hard to know exactly what people meant by 'little to no effect.”'

He said CBO's findings were consistent with several recent studies that have analyzed a minimum wage increase to $9. This includes a University of Chicago survey of economists in which roughly equal numbers agreed and disagreed that a $9 minimum wage would make it “noticeably harder” for low-skilled workers to find jobs.

A minimum wage increase to $10.10 would affect more workers and be a larger relative to any other proposed wage increase previously studied.

He said this “means that employers will face a larger shock in their costs,” and have more incentive to respond by reducing the size of their workforces.

“A balanced reading of the set of research studies in this area led us to conclude that an increase in the minimum wage would probably have a small negative effect on employment,” said Elmendorf, first appointed to his post by Democratic congressional leaders in 2009 and reappointed in 2011 after Republicans took control of the house.

Under Elmendorf, who served in the 1990s as an economic adviser to former Democratic president Bill Clinton, the CBO has produced some reports viewed as favorable to Obama, finding in 2010 that the Affordable Care Act would actually reduce deficits over its first decade. It also concluded last year that a Democratic immigration reform bill would cut deficits by $900 billion over 20 years and significantly boost economic growth.

Elmendorf, who said his personal political views have no bearing on CBO research, ends his current four-year term at the agency in January 2015.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7893
JPY
USD
107.68
GBP
USD
0.6238
CAD
USD
1.1214
INR
USD
61.185

Rates may not be current.