Though Republicans' strong showing in the November elections can't be pinned to a single issue, one prevailing theme was the rural white man's thirsting support for the GOP.
Broke and left behind by the modern economy -- and perhaps a tad butt-hurt by the Democrats' fetish for identity politics -- white men in Minnesota's countryside went overwhelmingly Republican, allowing the GOP to capture both houses of the state legislature.
Now those same voters will be repaid for their support by... having their wages capped.
Minneapolis and St. Paul are both considering upping their minimum wages to $15 an hour. The idea is to help the poor better afford a basic standard of living. It also pumps more loot directly into the local economy – poor people can’t afford to save – instead of beaming it to a hedge fund manager who will park it in Panama.
But Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) hopes to abort the idea before birth.
Garofalo wants to ban cities from raising minimums on their own, forcing any change to be made on a statewide basis.
"The concern at the legislature is more that we live in one state, and we should have one policy for these important issues," he told MPR. "If we start allowing every city in the state to have their own sick leave, own maternity policy, their own minimum wage, it's just going to make it completely unworkable to do business in the state of Minnesota. And this is going to result in fewer jobs and lower pay for workers."
The first part seems reasonable. In the best of all worlds, Minnesota would make it as easy as possible for businesses to prosper.
Yet Garofalo's Businessman Always Drinks First theology has been crushing the middle class since the Reagan Years. And his comment about “fewer jobs and lower pay” is telling. It’s clear his proposal isn’t about raising wages statewide; it’s about keeping the cities from leading the way.
Republicans have long trotted out the thesis that rising wages kills jobs. It’s never been true. An examination of 70 years of minimum wage hikes found no correlation with employment levels, a fact endless studies have proved over and over again.
Moreover, raising the minimum doesn’t mean throwing an undeserved bone to some lazy high school wretch. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 89 percent of the beneficiaries will be age 20 and older.
The problem’s even worse in the countryside, where jobs pay less and are harder to come by. But if Minneapolis and St. Paul are stopped in their tracks, say goodbye to the idea that it’s ever coming to St. Cloud.