Senator Alexander asked Labor Secretary Thomas Perez if he believes that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is qualified to judge the impact of raising the minimum wage. The CBO has stated that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs. Perez did not directly answer the question.
The article reports what happened next:
Harkin said that Perez can “answer as he wants to answer, not as you direct him to answer. You can’t force him to say one thing or another. If he wants to answer that question, then he can answer that question.”
Alexander: “So a senator is not entitled to a yes-or-no answer to a specific question?”
Harkin: “The senator is entitled to ask a question, and the secretary can give the answer as he sees fit.”
Alexander: “That’s not much congressional oversight in my book.”
Harkin: “Well, it’s being respectful of people who want to respond in the way that they feel is best suited to answering the question.”
Alexander: “Well then we might as well not ask questions if we can’t get answers.”
This exchange depicts where we are in Washington. Congress has given up so much power that it has lost its oversight of the executive branch of government. It will be interesting to see if the minimum wage gets raised by an executive order. Then we will see if there are enough people in Congress who respect the Constitution to demand that it be followed. America has serious economic issues–this is not the time to play political games with people’s lives.