Graham: We Have to Find a Way to Raise Minimum Wage Without Losing Jobs, Hurting Small Businesses

WASHINGTON – Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today questioned witnesses on finding a way to raise the federal minimum wage without losing jobs or hurting small businesses.

Graham invited Greenville, South Carolina restaurant owner Carl Sobocinski to share his experience with working in and owning several restaurants. Graham also invited Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum and Dr. Jacob L. Vigdor, Professor of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Washington, to testify.

  • GRAHAM: “My concern is not really about Costco because I think anybody that makes $158 billion you can probably – $153 billion, whatever the number is – absorb some increase in cost. I’m worried about the small business owner who is struggling because COVID has reduced their capability to earn a living.” https://youtu.be/UzgPuZW-g2U?t=63  
  • GRAHAM: “The minimum wage is part of American business culture. Do you agree with that? The American business community has accepted the minimum wage is a part of their business model?”


GRAHAM: “And do you know of anybody who wants to get rid of it?”


GRAHAM: “Okay so what we’ve got to do is find out how to raise it without losing jobs and trying to create job growth, not depressed job growth.” https://youtu.be/2XsQ2Lj8Ld8?t=101 

  • GRAHAM: “You’ve had a 25 percent decrease in revenue due to COVID?”

SOBOCINSKI: “Thirty-five percent, year over year, ‘20 vs. ’19.”

GRAHAM: “Okay. Do you see it getting any better right now?”

SOBOCINSKI: “Not at the moment. January and February started off on an even worse track. As you know down here with our nice climate, we’re anticipating climbing out of this around April 1st when things warm up.”

GRAHAM: “Okay so do you think that 2021 is going to be a tough year for you?”

SOBOCINSKI: “Absolutely, without a doubt.”   https://youtu.be/2XsQ2Lj8Ld8?t=136

  • GRAHAM: “The idea of raising the minimum wage, if you did it maybe different than [Democrats] are proposing, is that acceptable to you?”

SOBOCINSKI: “Yes sir. I tried to make that point earlier that this is not about not raising the minimum wage. This is about that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution and that a 107 percent increase is too much.”   https://youtu.be/2XsQ2Lj8Ld8?t=186

  • GRAHAM: “If we increase your costs at a time your revenue is down, who suffers the most in your business model?”

SOBOCINSKI: “The entry-level positions. Those high schoolers, those college students, those part time workers. A lot of the college students are trying to pay for college education themselves and working while in college. So those would be the first jobs to disappear.” https://youtu.be/2XsQ2Lj8Ld8?t=231   

See below for Graham’s full set of questions. 

Panel I: https://youtu.be/UzgPuZW-g2U

Panel II: https://youtu.be/2XsQ2Lj8Ld8

Panel III: https://youtu.be/iI7MTXlzveU