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Republicans used to support "job killing" minimum wage increases

06/16/2014 10:09 am ET | Updated Aug 16, 2014

The public's opinion of a particular political action is often colored by that person's political affiliation.

So when President Barack Obama adopts Republican strategies like he has done with education, immigration, health care reform, and military actions, Republicans then find fault with policies they previously supported.

Unfortunately, this sort of blind opposition permeates American politics and leads many to use their dislike for a person or party as the basis of their position.

For instance, when discussing the topic of a minimum wage hike recently, many act as though there is a clear division of right and wrong wherein Republicans understand the impact of raising the minimum wage while most Democrats are just too dim to get it.

But history shows that the two most recent increases enjoyed bipartisan support.

The 1997 increase was sponsored by Texas Republican Bill Archer and passed by a Republican controlled House and Senate before eventually being signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The same is true of the 2007 increase that garnered the support of Republicans in both the House and Senate before it reached the desk of President George W. Bush.

What could have possibly changed in the last 7 years that makes minimum wage so terrible now?

Of course admitting you dislike something because the other side supports it is something almost no one is willing to do. This forces people to look for information and arguments to support their flip-flopped conclusions.

For example, conservatives have linked the increase in minimum wage to a loss of jobs for young people.

The data to support such a claim seems to be mainly anecdotal however many topics like this become a matter of faith so definitive causation is not necessary for widespread acceptance.

Having said that, if all that is required for this debate is a casual correlation, it should be noted that youth unemployment in the U.S. between 1997 and 2011 jumped 6%, while the youth unemployment rate in the same time frame for Denmark, a country which has no minimum wage, increased by a nearly identical 5.9%.

Perhaps the minimum wage increase is to blame for the 0.1% difference between the two countries over that 15 year span. However it is hardly a smoking gun that proves the minimum wage kills jobs.

Data shows that the number of youth choosing to participate in the workforce has been steadily declining for the last 40 years.

Are minimum wage increases to blame for the bulk of this drop, or is it possible that other factors like the rise in elderly employees is affecting teen jobless rates?

If youth employment numbers are so critical to the success of the country then why did Republicans ever agree to a single increase in the minimum wage?

Why not oppose all changes to wages and instead offer a litany of bills to address this apparent calamity? The complete vacuum of legislation from Republicans suggests their current concern over this rate is anything but genuine.

While feigning concern over youth employment has paid off well, part of the reason Republicans have never addressed the falling youth participation rate has to do with the fact that many teenagers are choosing to pass on menial jobs and instead focus on other more meaningful opportunities that address the same core themes of punctuality and responsibility. As such, it has been reported that while less teens are working, this generation crams more into a typical day than any previous generation.

It is also true that the current system is already set up to favor rich kids. Given that most Republican policies are geared towards placating the wealthy, expecting them to do anything that levels the playing field for the less privileged with no political gain would be a stretch.

Of course the anecdotal evidence doesn't stop there. To show just how awful the minimum wage is for the youth or the poor, many point to low paying professions of the past and conclude that the reason they don't exist is the repressive minimum wage.

My colleague Gary Wolfram even wrote a rant based on his personal experience with attempting to fuel his vehicle to suggest that were it not for wage requirements tens of thousands of youth would be employed at service stations across the U.S. pumping gas.

U.S. business history is filled with automations aimed at using less manpower and speeding up production long before the first minimum wage came into effect. If it can be done faster and cheaper using a machine, a company is likely to automate. But beyond that, do we really want people working for $2 an hour simply to claim we have a lower unemployment rate?

The goal should be to get as many people as possible good paying jobs that allow them to support a family without government assistance.

If Republicans think the minimum wage is an awful way of accomplishing that goal then all they have to do is offer a different solution that encourages companies to share a slightly greater share of their profits to the hard working men and women who helped earn it instead of sitting on record amounts of cash and rewarding shareholders for their investment.

If Republicans believe in their job creation dogma anywhere near as much as their political ads suggest they do, advocating for policies that have proven to keep money out of the economy is exceedingly counterproductive.

But why let reality get in the way of a politically-motivated conclusion?