One of the more substantive reveals of the Wikileaks email dump (assuming these emails are what they purport to be) is that Clinton insiders know full well that hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour would have devastating economic consequences, despite what Hillary Clinton is saying on the campaign. Originally, she advocated a more modest hike but the Bernie voters forced her to embrace the $15 an hour federal minimum wage.
Behind the scenes, it's been clear that much—maybe even most—of the liberal policy community is uncomfortable with the idea [of a hike to $15 an hour], even though many have refrained from public criticism.
Even still, it's notable that Neera Tanden, the head of the Center for American Progress, cautioned the Clinton campaign last year about supporting a $15 federal minimum wage.
As Sean Higgins of The Washington Examiner reports, an April 2015 email from Tanden to four senior Clinton staffersresponding to a list of policy proposals states that "Substantively, we have not supported $15—ysou will get a fair number of liberal economists who will say it will lose jobs." (The email was obtained through an illegal hack, and published by Wikileaks.)
It's worth taking a moment to put this in context: Tanden, a former Obama administration staffer, is the head of one of the largest and most powerful liberal policy institutions in Washington, and she is a leading figure for a top position in a Hillary Clinton administration. She's writing to a group of top Clinton campaign staffers, including Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman and a former president of the Center for American Progress himself, Campaign Manager Robby Mook, and Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, all of whom with intimate knowledge of the liberal policy consensus. And not only does Tanden state that many liberal economists would object to a $15 minimum wage because it would result in job loss, no one else on the thread appears to push back in any way.
What that means is that Clinton's top advisers—and, almost certainly, Clinton herself—know full well that there's essentially no good evidence, even from liberal evidence, to support moving to a $15 federal minimum, and are aware that doing so would likely cost jobs. But Clinton, under pressure from the party's left flank, has indicated that she would nonetheless support $15-an-hour legislation.
In its campaign form, this is purely cynical political pandering. In legislative form, however, it would have real and practical consequences. But for Clinton, the potential loss of millions of American jobs is apparently a small price to pay when compared with her own political future.
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