04/07/2017

After Studying Basic Economics, Liberal Mayor Vetoes Minimum Wage Increase

Brittany Hunter, Foundation for Economic Education

There can be no denying that legislatively speaking, the Fight for Fifteen movement garnered huge wins during the last election cycle both on city and state levels.

No matter how much success or popularity an initiative manages to earn at the ballot box, there are economic laws that cannot be avoided, even when good intentions are accounted for—something some politicians are starting to figure out.

A Complete 180

Last week, Baltimore’s new Democratic Mayor, Catherine Pugh, surprised her constituents by changing her position on the issue of raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

This came as a shock to those who had previously supported her during her mayoral run when she not only vocally promised to support the legislation, but also said in writing on a union questionnaire that, "I am aware of the current initiative to raise the minimum wage in the City Council to $15 per hour and when it reaches my desk I will sign it."

However, after she was elected into office and when the minimum legislation did reach the new Baltimore Mayor’s desk, instead of signing the legislation, Mayor Pugh used her power to veto it!

Pugh, who is only four months into her term as mayor, did what many mayors have not taken the time, nor had the courage to do: she actually researched the economic policies set to be implemented in the legislation, and the potential harm these policies could cause in Baltimore.

As a result of what she learned, Pugh decided she could no longer in good conscience support or sign the legislation when the economic repercussions were potentially dangerous enough to harm her entire city.

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Thanks to "bracket creep," the inflation of the 1970s pushed millions of taxpayers into higher tax brackets even though their inflation-adjusted incomes were not rising. To help offset this tax increase and also to improve incentives to work, save, and invest, President Reagan proposed sweeping tax rate reductions during the 1980s. What happened? Total tax revenues climbed by 99.4 percent during the 1980s, and the results are even more impressive when looking at what happened to personal income tax revenues. Once the economy received an unambiguous tax cut in January 1983, income tax revenues climbed dramatically, increasing by more than 54 percent by 1989 (28 percent after adjusting for inflation).

 

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