WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) defended his call to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, saying the positives in economic stimulus would outweigh the potential in job losses.
“I apologize to nobody for that,” the senator said during Saturday night’s Democratic debate. “When we put money into the hands of working people, they are going to go out and buy goods, they are going to go out and buy services and they are going to create jobs in doing that.”
The senator was being challenged on the economics of such a steep wage hike -- the current federal minimum wage is $7.25. And he refused, generally, to concede that critics had a point in warning that businesses might hire fewer workers if they had to pay far higher salaries.
“It is not a radical idea to say that if somebody works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty,” he said.
Sanders’ stridency was echoed by former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who noted that he had raised the state’s minimum wage while governor. But the other candidate on the stage, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, drew a contrast, saying that concerns about potential job loss -- as articulated by Alan Krueger, the former chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers -- were not to be dismissed.
"I do take what Alan Krueger said seriously. He is the foremost expert in our country on the minimum wage and what its effects are. And the overall message is that it doesn't result in job loss," she said. "However, what Alan Krueger said in the piece you're referring to is that if we went to $15, there are no international comparisons. That is why I support a $12 national official minimum wage. That is what the Democrats in the Senate have put forward as a proposal. But I do believe that is a minimum. And places like Seattle, like Los Angeles, like New York City, they can go higher."
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