Obama's Highly Touted List Of Pro-Minimum Wage Economists Includes A Few Crackpots

As part of their election year strategy of steering the public’s attention as far away from ObamaCare as humanly possible, Democrats have been pushing for a vote on a minimum wage hike in the Republican-led House – which they know, is not going to happen.

Not that it matters. Because Democrats want to put Republicans on the defensive for failing to care as much about the poor as they do. Throwing a wrench into their plans last week, however, was the CBO with a study that showed a minimum wage hike to $10.10  an hour would lead to a reduction in employment of anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million workers. Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen backed the CBO’s analysis. 

Obama’s chief economist, Jason Furman, who has always been happy to tout CBO numbers when they bolstered WH arguments, last week panned the CBO report, saying it “does not reflect the overall consensus view of economists, who have said that the minimum wage would have little or no impact on employment.”

Of course – the vast majority of economists agree with Obama on this.

As I’ve noted here at the Conversation, since the first days of his administration, Obama’s had an annoying habit of  claiming that all of the experts agree with him on this or that issue. Whether it was  the Stimulus, ObamaCare, global warming, gun control, taxing the rich – you name it – the vast majority of experts always agreed with Obama on his policy prescriptions. Those who disagreed were meant to feel like isolated weirdos – far outside the mainstream. 

This can’t be stated enough. Obama has been trying to Jedi Mind Trick the nation into submission with this psychological tactic. There is no consensus among economists on the minimum wage. In fact – it turns out that quite a few of the brainiacs on Obama’s much touted list of 602 economists who favor a minimum wage hike, are – to put it mildly – weirdos far outside the mainstream.

The conservative Employment Policies Institute examined the list that was organized by the the liberal, union-backed Economic Policy Institute.

They were unable to locate sufficient information to make a determination on either the PhD or specialty for 21 of the signers.

Of the 571 signers who 1) we found sufficient sourcing information for, and 2) have an economics Ph.D., 259 (or 45%) do not specialize in labor economics.

A number of the signers — whether or not they have experience in labor-related topics — have research interests that are considerably outside the economic mainstream. Specifically, at least 40 of the signers are specialists in or have done considerable work in the economics of Marxism or Socialism, or are affiliated with the “radical” study of economics. 

Predictably, some of these signers have made extreme statements, labeling the United States “the world’s number one rogue,” lauding Hugo Chavez as a “great leader,” or praising the “particular model of socialism pioneered by the Soviet Union.” One of the signers is even a well-known advocate for “9-11 Truth.”

Other signers are full-time staffers at labor unions, union-supported organizations, or other activist groups. Specifically, the list includes at least 33 signers affiliated with the following far-left, labor, or labor-backed organizations: Economic Policy Institute, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Center for American Progress,  Union of Concerned Scientists, Massachusetts Climate Action Network, Keystone Research Center, Fiscal Policy Institute, Center on Wisconsin Strategy, American Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union, United Auto Workers,  and the AFL-CIO.

The Employment Policy Institute notes that “there are still highly-qualified and intelligent signers on this list-not the least of which are the seven Nobel Laureates supporting a jump to $10.10.”

 But there are also at least nine Nobel Laureates in economics who historically opposed a higher minimum wage-including major names in the field like Friedman, Becker, Buchanan, and Tobin.

The obvious purpose of the list is to create an impression that an economic consensus exists in favor of a higher minimum wage, when that’s far from the truth. While it’s clearly possible to find a group of economists who endorse a higher minimum wage, the endorsement of this group of 600 does not clear the bar for credibility.