New Hampshire Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan voted down the minimum wage hike in their party’s $1.9 trillion COVID spending package on Friday, dealing a blow to the progressive cause and inspiring anger among Granite State liberals.
The $15 an hour minimum-wage mandate was included in the House version and had the backing of Democratic Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas. But the Senate voted 58-42 to remove the language, with the help of eight Democrats.
In a statement to CNN Hassan said, “People who work 40 hours a week should be able to get by and shouldn’t be living at or below poverty level. I’ve long supported raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour and I’m open to $15 an hour. We need a path forward that is appropriate for workers and small businesses and could actually pass.”
Drew Cline of the free-market Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy praised the state’s two senators. “In voting against a $15 minimum wage that would have caused job losses and small business closures in New Hampshire, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan made the right call,” Cline said. “Bernie Sanders’ worker’s paradise fantasies are not a sound basis for economic policymaking, and it was nice to see New Hampshire’s U.S. senators acknowledge as much with this vote. It’s a shame our U.S. representatives sided with the socialist from Vermont.”
New Hampshire progressives, on the other hand, were not impressed.
“I am thoroughly disgusted with NH Senators Hassan and Shaheen for their failure to vote for increasing the minimum wage. Support is waning,” tweeted Nashua Rep. Catherine Sofikitis.
“It is really disappointing to see both of my senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, on this list,” tweeted state Rep. Eric Gallager (D-Concord). “It is time to primary them and replace them with actual Democrats who will actually stand up for the working class.
“Shaheen and Hassan aren’t moderates, they’re right-wing conservatives who need to be primaried from the left,” Gallager added.
Inspired, perhaps, by the recent attacks on Dr. Seuss, progressive firebrand Rep. Sherry Frost (D-Dover) responded to her fellow Democrats’ votes with a poem:
According to data from the Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau, fewer than 8,000 Granite Staters worked for minimum wage in 2019.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report in early February reviewing the financial burden of a minimum wage increase proposal. This analysis discovered a $15 minimum wage would cost the country 1.4 million jobs, raise the price for goods and services, and increase the federal budget deficit by $54 billion by 2031.
According to the Employment Policies Institute, a nonprofit group that focuses on employment issues, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would cost New Hampshire more than 13,000 jobs, about half of which would come from the “Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation and Accommodation and Food Services industries.” Hospitality and tourism make up the Granite State’s second-largest industry.
Kuster and Pappas declined repeated requests for comment.