Burrito Economy: Republicans’ Price Rise Claims Are So Hot | Robert reich

House Republicans blame Democrats for the price hike on Chipotle burritos.

You heard me right. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a statement Wednesday, claiming that Chipotle’s recent move to increase the prices of their burritos and other menu items by about 4% was due to Democrats.

“The Democrats’ socialist stimulus bill has caused a labor shortage and now burrito lovers around the world are footing the bill,” NRCC spokesman Mike Berg said.

It looks like Republicans have finally found a problem in running for the 2022 midterm election. Apparently, Dr Seuss and Mr Potato Head weren’t gaining enough traction.

The GOP’s tortured logic is that US bailout unemployment benefits forced workers to stay home rather than look for jobs, resulting in labor shortages that forced employers like Chipotle to increase wages, which forced them to increase their prices.

Hence, Chipotle’s more expensive burrito.

It’s not just a crazy economy. It’s dangerously wacky economics because you would think so, leading to all kinds of stupid public policy.

Start with the idea that $ 300 a week in federal unemployment benefits keeps Americans out of work.

Since less than 30% of the unemployed are eligible for state unemployment benefits, the claim is that legions of workers have chosen to become couch potatoes and raise $ 15,000 a year rather than finding a employment.

I challenge a Republican lawmaker to live on $ 15,000 a year.

In fact, proof suggests that workers who are reluctant to re-enter the workforce do not have child care or are still concerned about their health during the pandemic.

Also, if employers want additional workers, they can do whatever they need to do for whatever they want more but cannot get at the current price – pay more.

It’s called capitalism. Republicans should pull themselves together.

When Chipotle wanted to attract more workers, he increased his average wage to $ 15 an hour. That comes down to about $ 30,000 a year per worker – still too little to live on, but double the federal unemployment benefit.

Oh, and there’s no reason to assume that this pay rise forced Chipotle to raise the prices of his burrito. The company had other options.

Chipotle executives are among the highest paid in America. Its managing director, Brian Niccol, has garnered $ 38 million last year – which happens to be 2,898 times more than the typical Chipotle employee. All of the top executives at Chipotle got huge pay raises.

So it would have been possible for Chipotle to avoid raising its burrito prices by – dare I say? – pay its leaders less. But Chipotle decided otherwise.

I’m not going to question Chipotle’s business decision – and neither should the NRCC.

By the way, I keep hearing Republican lawmakers say that the GOP is the “party of the working class.” If so, he should celebrate when hourly workers get a raise instead of yelling about it.

Everyone should rejoice when those at the bottom get higher wages.

The typical American worker has not had a real raise for four decades. Income inequality is out of control. The inequality of wealth is in the stratosphere (where Jeff Bezos is heading, apparently).

If wages at the bottom of the ladder go up because employers have to pay more to get the workers they need, that’s okay. It is a victory.

Instead of complaining about a so-called “labor shortage,” Republicans should be complaining about the shortage of jobs paying living wages.

Don’t hold your breath, or your burrito.

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