During a heated debate between Florida Senator Marco Rubio and his Democratic challenger Rep. Patrick Murphy on Wednesday, Rubio blasted his opponent for supporting raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, and explained how this policy would eliminate jobs.
“I do want to increase people’s wages by growing the economy and by my idea for a wage enhancement, which is better than a minimum wage increase, which, we have learned from minimum wage experts, could eliminate between 500 and 600 thousand jobs if we raise it to the level that you are talking about doing,” Rubio said. “You make people more expensive than machines, they will be replaced by machines. It’s already happening. I promise you that in less than 5 years, the majority of these fast food restaurants won’t even have people at that window, it will be a touchscreen. And so we do want to help workers with the skills that they need to find the better paying jobs of the 21st Century.”
The “wage enhancement” that Rubio mentioned is an idea he has floated in the past to replace the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) with a monthly “federal wage enhancement” for qualifying low-wage jobs.
“Unlike the earned income tax credit, my proposal would apply the same to singles as it would to married couples and families with children,” Rubio said in a press release. “It would also be a preferable means of distributing benefits since it would arrive in sync with a monthly paycheck rather than a year-end lump-sum credit. And it’s a better way of supporting low-income workers than simply raising the minimum wage.”
While Rubio is currently holding on to a slight lead over Murphy, polls are tightening in a race seen as crucial for Republicans to maintain control of the Senate.