House Republicans blame COVID relief for rising Chipotle burrito prices


The House GOP's campaign arm launched an attack against Democrats after a restaurant chain announced higher wages for its workers.

The National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday launched a curious attack against COVID relief passed by the Democratic majority in Congress, slamming them for helping increase wages since he took office to deal with what it called "the labor crisis Democrats caused."

The NRCC, whose aim is to elect Republicans to the House, blasted out a link to a New York Times article about the fast casual Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle and how its decision to raise its employees hourly wage from $11 an hour to an average of $15 an hour, with some making as much as $18 an hour, is impacting its business.

According to the Times, Chipotle is raising its menu prices by about 4% to cover the increase in wages in an effort to attract more workers. Chipotle executives said the increase amounts to just "quarters and dimes that we're layering in."

The NRCC said the wage increases are bad for Americans.

"Democrats' socialist stimulus bill caused a labor shortage and now burrito lovers everywhere are footing the bill," NRCC spokesman Mike Berg said in a statement.

Democrats mocked the NRCC's messaging.

"This is amazing," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted, linking to the NRCC's statement. "The Republicans are apparently going to run against Democrats based on the fact that wages for regular people are increasing."

Republicans have been claiming that the virus relief package passed without Republican support in either chamber of Congress, which included an extension of supplemental weekly unemployment insurance payments, is hampering the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. And it's led some Republican governors to stop giving out the federal unemployment insurance boost to out-of-work residents of their states.

However, experts say that unemployment support is not what has prevented some from returning to the workforce: They cite low wages, lack of child care, and fear of contracting the virus.

A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago released in the summer of 2020 said that unemployment insurance was not stopping people from searching for work.

"Among the unemployed, those currently receiving UI benefits search somewhat more intensely than those who have exhausted their benefits or those who did not collect benefits. Among those out of the labor force, those who are currently receiving or have exhausted their benefits search more than others, but the overall search intensity for both groups is much lower than the search intensity of the unemployed," the study found.

And a study published in February by researchers at the University of Chicago found that unemployment insurance both didn't stop people from searching for work and actually also led them to spend more money as they hunted for jobs, injecting cash into the economy.

"These spending and job finding facts suggest that benefit expansions during the pandemic were a more effective policy than predicted by standard structural models," the study found.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.