Wrong Answers

Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues are set to implement their campaign promises to remake the United States in their image by passing a whole slew of new legislation designed to reform the Congress and the nation at large.

When the scholars at the Heritage Foundation set out to examine in detail both the nature of the problems Pelosi and her henchmen are planning to solve in their first 100 hours at the helm, and the kind of solutions they’ve come up with, they found that in every case the solutions are the wrong ones.

If the people in their frustration over the utter failure of the Republicans to act like Republicans thought they were going see an improvement on Capitol Hill, it looks as if they are about to be sadly disappointed. Looking at the Democrats’ agenda and their proposed remedies to the problems they say the nation faces, it’s hard not to feel more than a little depressed about the future of America under the legislative thumb of the Pelosi and her cohorts.

Madame Pelosi promises to push forward legislation that would “make our country safer; make our economy fair; make college more affordable; health care more accessible; move toward energy independence.”

She is also reported to be planning to introduce legislation that would muzzle conservative opposition. That’s scary, and indicative of the Marxian mindset of Pelosi and her far-left colleagues now controlling the House of Representatives. The legislative initiatives included in Pelosi’s first-hundred-hours program, however, are just plain demagoguery – proposals that sound good but are riddled with problems and what Heritage scholars call “unintended consequences.”

Take the pledge to increase the minimum wage. Sounds good – after all, who wants people to be denied a living wage? It raises up images in the public’s mind of employees struggling to exist on a pittance. It also ignores some very inconvenient facts Heritage scholars exposed:

• It is an extremely ineffective anti-poverty measure. It does not help the poor, low-income workers. Most minimum wage workers do not need government assistance. Less than one in five live below the poverty line, and the average family income of a minimum wage earner is almost $50,000 a year. The majority of minimum wage workers are between the ages of 16 and 24, and over three-fifths work part time.

• Many will lose their jobs because as it gets more become more expensive to hire workers, companies hire fewer of them. The bulk of research on the minimum wage confirms that the minimum wage costs jobs. Some workers may get a raise while others lose everything.

• Those most likely to lose their jobs are the especially vulnerable workers that the increase is intended to help, because a higher minimum wage makes hiring unskilled workers particularly unattractive to businesses. Employers will not hire low-skilled, inexperienced workers for $7.25 an hour when they can hire more-skilled and experienced workers at the same rate. The minimum wage puts the workers who most need to gain experience and skills at a disadvantage.

• Research shows that higher minimum wages do not reduce poverty rates or improve the lives of low-income workers — low wages are not a primary cause of poverty. Most poor Americans do not work for the minimum wage — most poor Americans do not work at all, for any wage. Over three-fifths of individuals below the poverty line did not work during 2005, while only 11 percent worked full time, year-round. Families are not poor because they earn low wages but because they do not have full-time jobs. If at least one parent in every poor household worked full-time year round, the child poverty rate in the United States would plummet by over 70 percent.

This is just one of Madame Pelosi’s proposals. The rest are just as badly thought-out and will in every case do more harm than good. To get an idea of just how foolishly demagogic and dangerous they are, take a look at Heritage’s monumental study “The 100-Hour Agenda: The New Congressional Majority’s Uneven Proposals,” at It’s all there.