Jared Bernstein is an economist and senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He was formerly chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and a member of President Barack Obama’s economics team.
It should come as no surprise that one of the first acts of the 110th Congress will be legislation to raise the minimum wage. A bit more surprising is the endorsement by President Bush, who recently announced that a minimum wage increase was a policy on which he and the incoming Democratic congress could "work together."
Unfortunately, his cooperation comes at a cost. To the president, "working together" on a bill to increase the $5.15 federal minimum wage to $7.25 over two years means … guess what? … more tax cuts.
There's every reason to keep this minimum wage bill clean and little rationale for tax cuts.
As was widely expected, the high priests at the Temple of the Fed announced yesterday that they would hold the Fed Funds Rate (FFR) steady at 5.25 percent.
There are inflation hawks out there who will criticize the decision, but it's a good thing these hawks are keeping their claws off the pause. Neither the economy nor workers' wages need higher interest rates and slower growth right now.
For the 16th time in a row, the Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate, bringing the federal funds rate to 5 percent.
The rate hike was widely expected. The question among soothsayers who parse the entrails of the Fed's statements was not whether this hike would occur, but whether the committee would signal an end to the long climb that began back in June of 2004 when the rate was 1 percent.
When the Fed funds rate was at a 40-year low and the economy was beginning an expansion, rate hikes were as close to no-brainers as such things get. Now, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the rest of the Open Market Committee are deep into a 3-D chess game, with many crosswinds blowing in all directions.
When the economy is doing well, presidents tend to spout growth rates and historical comparisons in their State of the Union speeches, while leaders of the other party suffer through the speech. If a president is presiding over a downturn, he feels their (and everybody's) pain, tortures a few numbers to suggest things are not that bad, and describes a way forward.