In their Op-Ed article Sunday, economists Kevin A. Hassett and Michael R. Strain said President Obama's proposal to boost the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour would do little to blunt poverty in the United States and would make it more difficult for businesses to hire workers. They said other ways to aid the poor, including expanding the earned income tax credit, would be more effective. In response, reader Ralph Mitchell wrote:
"By opposing the president's proposed minimum-wage increase to $9 an hour, Hassett and Strain are suggesting the government underwrite the cost of doing business by providing necessary life supports to families — through welfare systems, emergency healthcare, the earned income tax credit and so on — so that businesses can pay lower wages.
"If working wages provided enough income to raise families out of poverty, then we taxpayers wouldn't have to foot the tax bill for family necessities. In other words, lower wages mean more government support for citizens while businesses get to maximize their profits.
"We should be careful supporting businesses that can't operate without paying decent wages. They shouldn't be welfare recipients."
Kevin A. Hassett and Michael R. Strain respond:
As a general matter, government aid to the poor does not underwrite the cost of doing business. In fact, many recipients of federal aid to the poor do not work at all.