One of yesterday’s biggest congressional news items was the report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would cause some businesses to cut jobs—a finding Democrats, including the White House, disputed. The director of the CBO, Douglas Elmendorf, however, publicly defended the CBO’s analysis saying that it was “consistent with the latest thinking in the economics profession”. Although he defended the agency’s record, he did not specifically call out the White House for its criticisms.
The Democrats might not have liked the CBO report’s findings about the effect of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10, but perhaps they could appreciate other parts of it, such as its analysis of raising the hourly pay floor to $9.00. RealClearPolitic’s Alexis Simendinger points out that raising the minimum wage to $9.00 could be a distinct possibility, for a number of reasons. Increasing the minimum wage is politically popular, and the CBO found that that step would have a much smaller effect on the job market.
The minimum wage hike is not the only economic issue some Members would like to see completed this Congress. Reform of the U.S. tax code has often been a major priority for some. Today congressional reporters are saying that Representative Dave Camp, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which originates taxation bills, will release his draft of a reform bill sometime next week. This plan would include lowering the rate on the top tax bracket to 25 percent, much lower than the current individual rate of about 40 percent or the rate of 35 percent for corporations. Camp has reportedly been working on reform since 2011, but it remains to be seen whether he can pull off a victory before the end of the year, when he must turn over his gavel due to the House Republican Conference’s term limits on chairmanships. In order to proceed, Camp will have to build up solid support among Republicans; it appears highly unlikely that many Democrats would back the plan.
Earlier this week, Democratic Representatives Gloria Negrete McLeod and Rush Holt announced that they would be leaving the House after this Congress. Irked by what he calls “an all-too-common media narrative” that they are part of an “exodous” of lawmakers, Roll Call’s Stuart Rothenberg writes that the number of Members deciding to call it quits is not unusual. It hardly counts as a retirement if they are seeking another office (which McLeod is, albeit back in California), and thus far only 19 Representatives are declining to run for some other position. Compare that with the average number of retirements from 1976 through 2012: 22.
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