Still, minimum wage jobs provide a step onto the first rung of the economic ladder. Workers get experience, references and cash. Most get raises within the first year. When the minimum wage is increased, some of those jobs are eliminated. Economist Russ Roberts summarizes the literature: "The standard finding is that a 10% increase in the minimum wage reduces employment among low-skilled workers from 1% to 3%." So for the sake of the less than 1 percent of full-time workers who earn minimum wage, Mr. Obama would eliminate the jobs of roughly 240,000 people.
The president also returned to one of his favorite hobbyhorses: subsidizing solar energy. In his 2012 address, he demanded more "clean" energy, declaring "I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China." This year, he insisted that, "as long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we."
Must we? The Chinese government, like Obama, confident that it can pick winners, poured stimulus money into the solar industry. The result was huge overcapacity (part of the reason for Solyndra's demise). According to a European competitor, "Massive subsidies and state intervention have stimulated overcapacity more than 20 times total Chinese consumption and close to double total global demand." In the last two years, shares of Chinese solar companies have fallen by half. Dozens of Chinese solar companies are now on the verge of bankruptcy.
Much of the same can be said of Obama's clean energy white elephant and his entire makeshift second term agenda.