Saturday, February 16, 2013
A GOP Rep Lies About Minimum Wage
But no Republican has been more disingenuous than Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn. In an effort to show that it helps teens to work for a small salary, she related her own story. She said:
What we’re hearing from moms and from school teachers is that there needs to be a lower entry level, so that you can get 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds into the process. Chuck, I remember my first job, when I was working in a retail store, down there, growing up in Laurel, Mississippi. I was making like $2.15 an hour. And I was taught how to responsibly handle those customer interactions. And I appreciated that opportunity.
That can sound like she had made the point that teens should work for less than minimum wage -- until you look at what she doesn't tell us about her first job. By saying she worked for $2.15 an hour, she makes it sound like that was a very low wage, and today, it would be considered very low. But Rep. Blackburn was born in 1952, which means she would have been 16 to 18 years old between 1968 and 1970. At that time, the minimum wage was only $1.60 an hour (and had the buying power of $10.56 an hour today).
But Blackburn didn't work for minimum wage. She worked for $2.15 an hour (the equivalent of more than $12.72 an hour today), which was 34.4% above the minimum wage of that time. Using the current minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) and adding 34.4%, her salary would have equaled $9.74 an hour if she had worked for the same percentage above minimum wage in this economy -- $0.74 an hour more than President Obama has asked the minimum wage to be raised to.
So Blackburn's first job, which she wants you to believe was a very low-wage job, would have paid her somewhere between $9.74 and $12.72 an hour in today's dollars. But she thinks that teens today should work for less than the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Does that make any sense? Is it fair? Isn't she just telling an outrageous lie by comparing her 1968-1970 salary to today's wages? Isn't it a lie to infer that she once worked for less than minimum wage, when it is not true (and her salary was more than a third above minimum wage)?
This is the way a lot of congressional Republicans operate today. They love to throw out numbers that seem to back up what they want -- until you examine those numbers and realize it is nothing more than a lie. The president's desire to raise the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour is more than reasonable (since it would have to be raised to more than $10 an hour to equal the buying power it had in the late sixties). It should be done.