Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told a hearing Tuesday that he would rather see minimum wage abolished than increase pay levels to keep up with the pace of inflation.
The Fair Minimum Wage Act introduced this year would gradually increase minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.
"When working families have more money in their pockets, they pump it right back into the local economies," said acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris. "The business owners I've met supported the higher minimum wage because they know it means more people have more to spend on goods and services, and that of course helps their businesses grow."
“My problem with this hearing is that it’s a hearing on how to pay fewer people more money instead of how to get more new jobs, which is what we need in this country with such a high rate of unemployment,” said Alexander, the ranking member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. "I would rather see hearings — although I don’t have the prerogative, as the chairman does, of setting the agenda — on creating an environment in which we could grow the largest number of good new jobs and make those more accessible.”
Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said young people finishing college are not able to secure full-time, 40 hour per week jobs. Instead they are working part time for $7.25 an hour. Despite tax breaks for the 1 percent, there do n0t appear to be any more entry level, full-time jobs to go around.
Sanders asked Alexander if he opposed the hike or the existence of minimum wage at all.
"So you do not believe in the concept of the minimum wage?"
"That's correct," Alexander responded.
"You would abolish the minimum wage?" Sanders asked.
"Correct,” Alexander said.
"If someone had to work for two bucks an hour, they would work for two bucks an hour?" Sanders continued.
Alexander went on to compare minimum wage to welfare.