Even millionaires support raising the minimum wage: 'We can't afford not to'

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A group of wealthy Americans has come out in support of the latest effort to increase workers' wages, saying doing so would benefit everyone.

A group of millionaires and wealthy Americans have come out in support of a bill to raise the federal minimum wage, arguing such a move would be good for businesses.

The Patriotic Millionaires organization on Tuesday lauded the Raise the Wage Act, saying that it's "an incredible long-term economic stimulus."

Congress reintroduced the bill, which was passed by the House in 2019 but never got a vote in the Senate, on Tuesday. The legislation would lift the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour, in annual increments, by 2025.

House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott and Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders sponsored the legislation. President Joe Biden notably included a push to raise the minimum wage in his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan coronavirus relief plan.

"The Raise the Wage Act is a critical step toward lifting hardworking people out of poverty, addressing income inequality, and building back a better economy where everyone can succeed," Scott (D-VA) said in a statement Tuesday.

Morris Pearl, chair of Patriotic Millionaires, echoed those remarks in a statement that same day.

"The current federal minimum wage of just $7.25 an hour has left a wide swath of the American workforce unable to fully participate in our consumer economy," he said.

Pearl, the former managing director of the scrutinized investment company BlackRock, added, "Raising the federal minimum wage isn't just good for workers, it's good for businesses and investors as well."

He said that the Raise the Wage legislation "could not come at a more important time."

"Critics will say we can't afford to raise wages in the middle of a pandemic. But with businesses closing left and right because they don't have enough customers, we can't afford not to raise wages right now," he said. "Our economy needs a boost in consumer spending that can only come from putting more money into the hands of low wage workers who will immediately spend it."

The wage increase bill also has backing from other organizations.

The National Employment Law Project said that "raising the minimum wage is one of the best tools we have to lift incomes and grow our consumer-driven economy."

And the AFL-CIO noted that, since the $7.25 federal minimum wage passed in 2009, "it has lost 14.8% of its purchasing power to inflation (in 2018 dollars), and 28.6% less than it was at its peak in terms of purchasing power in 1968."

"Increasing the federal minimum wage would be a positive step in rewriting the rules of our economy so that it benefits working people," the group stated.

"The benefits in terms of reducing inequality — getting money into people's pockets, stimulating the market — are very well-proven," Till von Wachter, and economics professor who leads the California Policy Lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, told NBC News.

Those comments refute what several GOP lawmakers who oppose the wage hike legislation have argued.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) tweeted Tuesday that raising wages "would cost millions of Americans their jobs. With small businesses struggling, Democrats are focused on wrecking the economy."

On Friday, GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO) tweeted, "With his calls to raise the federal minimum wage to $15, Biden is kicking small businesses while they're down and struggling to survive."

An Economic Policy Institute report released Tuesday stated that organizations representing thousands of small businesses have in fact endorsed the $15 minimum wage in states that already approved the earnings increase.

Underpaid workers who earn more money will "directly counter the consumer demand shortfall," the policy group added while addressing the current recession.

A petition sponsored by Business for a Fair Minimum Wage already has more than 1,300 business signatories. The group's CEO, Holly Sklar, said in December, "The economy will get a shot in the arm when states raise their minimum wage."

"Businesses depend on customers who make enough to buy what they are selling. ... Minimum wage increases will go right back into local economies, helping workers and businesses get through the pandemic and economic crisis," she added.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.