Ro Khanna Dismisses Concerns of Small Business Owners

Ro Khanna doesn’t think businesses that pay less than $15 per hour should exist. And if the $15 federal minimum wage passes, he might get his wish as those small businesses close and millions of jobs are lost in the process.

Khanna dismissed the concerns of small business owners when he was asked about the mom-and-pop shops that fear they cannot afford to more than double the wages they pay their staff. During an interview with Abby Phillip on CNN, he said he doesn’t want those businesses in the United States unless they start paying $15 per hour.


Phillip: “What is your plan for smaller businesses? How does this, in your view, affect mom and pop businesses who are just struggling to keep their doors open [and] keep workers on the payroll right now?”

Khanna: “They shouldn’t be doing it by paying people low wages. We don’t want low-wage businesses. I think most successful small businesses can pay a fair wage. […] So I love small businesses. I’m all for it, but I don’t want small businesses that are underpaying employees.”

Clearly, Khanna knows little about running a small business. And from his dismissive tone, he doesn’t care to learn about their struggles.

But here is a fact for Khanna to consider: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that Khanna’s minimum wage could kill up to 2.7 million jobs. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to explain that the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is a lot more than $0 per hour.

Who knows? Maybe they just don’t teach that at Yale.

Khanna must have also forgotten that American business owners are still suffering the blow of the pandemic. After a full year of closures and shutdowns, Khanna thinks that businesses can afford to more than double their labor costs without consequences. But that is obviously not the case. Most businesses that pay the minimum wage (restaurants and retail) have been struggling to keep their doors open. Doubling the minimum wage will be a death blow to Main Street.

From Khanna’s viewpoint (up in his ivory tower), it makes sense why he may think small businesses can afford to double their labor costs without a problem. He represents part of Silicon Valley. The median household income in his district is $147,671 — more than double the median household income in the U.S. Silicon Valley’s tech giants made money during the pandemic while the rest of the U.S. suffered.

The fact is that most of America is not Silicon Valley. Most small business owners cannot afford to have their labor costs doubled.

Many were outraged by Khanna’s dismissive remarks, and rightfully so.

Khanna may not care about Main Street businesses, but their employees and their customers do care. Workers don’t want to lose their jobs. Communities don’t want to see their favorite stores boarded up. Khanna should take some time to see the part of the country he flys over between his trips to Washington and California. Then he can tell us that he doesn’t want those businesses to exist.