"Ready for dinner"
Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn not only defended Senate Republicans’ Wednesday filibuster that quashed a Democratic attempt to raise the federal minimum wage, but went one step further and argued that the federal minimum wage should not only not be raised but should be repealed entirely.
“I don’t believe you ought to interfere in the market,” Coburn said when asked whether the current $7.25 minimum wage was high enough. “I don’t believe there ought to be a national minimum wage.”
Coburn backed up his claim by reiterating conservative economic orthodoxy as well as implying the Democrats’ desired new number — $10.10 — was arbitrary.
“The fact is if you look at … the good economic models, the benefit is small. The cost of lost jobs is great,” Coburn said. “It goes against the free market principle,” he added. “We don’t know what the minimum wage should be. How’d they pick $10.10? Why not $22? Why not $100?”
Coburn’s “good economic models” aside, there is no true consensus within the economic profession as to the ultimate costs and benefits of raising the minimum wage.
While it’s true that economics 101 indicates a wage hike would harm employment, more specific and in-depth studies have found differing results, with some showing a wage raise would boost the overall economy and lift millions out of poverty.
Despite his opposition to a federal minimum wage, however, Coburn indicated that he had no problem with individual states deciding to raise wages for their lowest-paid residents.
You can watch Coburn explain his opposition to a federal minimum wage below:
Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith.More Elias Isquith.