WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A Republican lawmaker said Sunday that new technology in the fast-food industry could lead to massive job cuts if Congress raises the U.S. minimum wage.
There have been efforts afoot to boost the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $15.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said on ABC's "This Week" that self-service kiosks popping up in restaurants were a warning that the industry had options other than human beings working the counters.
"And you go into these fast-food places now, often there's a drink dispenser, so you have one fewer person," Portman said. "So that's the concern. If you raise the minimum wage too high, you're going to have not more jobs, but fewer jobs, and fewer opportunities."
Portman said the tenuous situation posed particular risk for teenagers and young adults entering the workforce at a time when job creation has been sluggish. It was also why the Republicans were determined to keep a lid on taxes and spending in the 2014 budget.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told ABC the minimum wage was just one component of providing a helping hand to low-income Americans being left behind by stagnant wages and depleted social programs. "This used to be a bipartisan consensus," he said. "We've got to get back to that day or the working folks across America are going to fall further and further behind."